Reducing domestic and family violence (DFV) is one of our three pro bono priority areas. We have a long history of working with victim/ survivors of DFV and are focused on prevention, empowerment, increased access to justice and perpetrator accountability.
We are pleased to see that the Queensland Government has confirmed its support, and/or support in-principle, for all of the Women’s Safety and Justice Taskforce’s 89 recommendations in its ‘Hear Her Voice’ report for further reform to our DFV service system and justice system to reduce DFV.
In particular, we are pleased that the government will, among other things, and prior to the introduction of legislative reform, make these three key changes.
1. Commit to raising awareness and understanding in the community and improve primary prevention efforts through:
- a multi-pronged state-wide communication and engagement strategy focused on increasing community awareness and understanding of DFV and coercive control; explaining legislative changes; and developing a comprehensive and integrated plan for the primary prevention of violence against women;
- enhancing the government’s implementation of respectful relationship education initiatives across Queensland schools; and
- working with key stakeholders including First Nations Peoples, people from CALD backgrounds, people with disability, LGBTIQA+ people and people at the intersections to develop resources about coercive control and changes to the law.
2. Improve service system responses to DFV through:
- a five year whole-of-government DFV service system strategic investment plan, delivered and funded by the government;
- the establishment of an integrated DFV peak body to support improved state-wide coordination, service integration, capacity and capability building and support embedding a common approach to responding to intersectional issues; and
- the development of an evidence based and trauma informed framework to support strengthened education, training and change management across all part of the DFV and justice system including policing, prosecution services, the legal profession and our courts.
3. Improve police, legal profession, court and judicial officer responses to DFV through:
- building specialist expertise across the Queensland Police Service;
- working with the Queensland Law Society, Bar Association and Legal Aid to support enhanced education and training for lawyers and judicial officers, including for undergraduate law students to ensure they have learnt about DFV and coercive control and ensure professional development for legal practitioners and judicial officers in DFV and trauma-informed practice is ongoing; and
- the development of a state-wide plan to improve safety for victims of DFV when attending courts.
We look forward to reviewing the Queensland Government’s second report, due mid-2022, which is focused on women’s experiences in the criminal justice system as victim and survivors of sexual violence and as accused person and offenders.