Women’s task force calls for sweeping changes to Queensland’s justice system

This article contains references to domestic violence and sexual assault.
A major overhaul has called for sweeping changes to the way Queensland’s criminal justice system treats victims of sexual assault and violence.
The final report of the Women’s Safety and Justice Taskforce contains 188 recommendations to improve the experiences of women and girls.
Led by Margaret McMurdo, former chair of the Court of Appeals, the task force received more than 300 submissions, including more than 250 from victims of sexual assault and 19 from perpetrators.
The report, released Friday by Attorney General Shannon Fentiman, highlights the importance of reform.

It follows the findings of an inquest into the murders of Brisbane woman Hannah Clarke and her three children at the hands of her husband, Rowan Baxter.


“Sexual assault remains one of the most horrific forms of violence in Australian society, with an estimated 84 percent of reported victims of sexual assault by women,” said Ms Fentiman.
“Two in five of these attacks can be associated with domestic and family violence.”
Ms Fentiman said this is the “incomprehensible reality” that victims face and why it is vital to remove all barriers for women coming forward to make use of the justice system.
The Attorney General said the findings and recommendations of Judge McMurdo’s report will be carefully considered, including with regard to Queensland’s consent laws.

“The previous work and recommendations of the Women’s Safety and Justice Taskforce speak volumes,” she said.


The task force was established in March 2021 with its first report, Hear her voice, which made 89 recommendations, including a new criminal offense of coercive control.
The state government has pledged to introduce the legislation by the end of 2023.
Compulsive control includes isolating a partner from family and friends, controlling their movements, controlling their access to money, and psychological and emotional manipulation.
This form of abuse affects women disproportionately.
The government has also allocated $363 million to expand domestic violence courts, strengthen support services, plan a First Nations strategy and fund offender programs “to change men’s behavior.”

“These are complex issues that require close attention to determine how best to strengthen our criminal justice system to better respond to women and girls who experience violence,” said Ms Fentiman.


The task force considered possible areas for reform in prevention and community awareness, reporting, state response and support for victims in their navigation through the justice system and possible legislative changes.
It also examined the effects of means of addressing sexual violence, the over-representation of First Nations women in the justice system, community attitudes toward consent laws, and the general barriers women face in reporting crimes up to their experiences in the courts.
“We are committed to ending all forms of domestic, family and sexual violence in this state and know there is still a lot of work to be done,” said Ms Fentiman.
If you or someone you know is affected by family and domestic or sexual violence, call 1800RESPECT on 1800 737 732 or visit † In an emergency, call 000.

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