The Queensland government has confirmed that it will adopt all 140 of the domestic violence recommendations made in Dame Quentin Bryce’s report.
The Newman government commissioned Dame Quentin’s domestic violence taskforce to prepare the report last year; the resulting report, Not Now, Not Ever: Putting an End to Domestic and Family Violence in Queensland, was ultimately submitted to Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk’s new government earlier this year.
Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk has now confirmed that her government will adopt every single one of the recommendations made in the report, which include increased criminal penalties for domestic and family violence.
“The time is right for action and I believe the community has the will to change,” Ms Palaszczuk said.
“We will now work with Queenslanders across the state to bring about a shift in our attitudes towards domestic and family violence, as well as providing the legal framework to help victims.”
All 121 of the Government recommendations have been accepted and the 19 non-government recommendations will be actively supported.
“Domestic and family violence is such a breach of trust that it deserves a higher penalty and the Criminal code will be changed to reflect this,” Ms Palaszczuk said.
“The Not Now, Not Ever Report also identified that strangulation is often a precursor to domestic homicide, and a clear indication of an escalation in violence. The taskforce recommended considering making this a criminal offence. We will take a close look at this.
“On the education front, we will be working with principals, teachers and school communities to teach children about healthy, respectful relationships.
“We will work with the Department of Education to develop appropriate materials for children, teachers and parents.
“We’re pushing for a cultural shift where it’s necessary within the police service, by appointing the Deputy Commissioner (Regional Operations) Brett Pointing as the Champion of Best Practice in prevention and first response.
“And we’ll trial a new, integrated response system in three locations across Queensland, one urban, one regional, and one Indigenous, to find the best way to deliver seamless help for victims and their families.
“I’m also determined that change will start from within. As Queensland’s biggest employer, the government has the opportunity to bring about significant cultural change through its workforce.
“My government has already moved on key recommendations, including a specialised domestic violence court, and funding two new crisis shelters, in Brisbane and Townsville.
“Now we’ve identified more priorities and with government and community working together, we can decide to eliminate this scourge from our society.”
Minister for Women, Shannon Fentiman said over four years, $31.3 million will be invested to implement the high-priority initiatives recommended in the Not Now: Not Ever report. During 2015-16, Government funding to tackle domestic and family violence, including existing programs and new measures, will total more than $66 million.
“Dame Quentin Bryce has given us a detailed blueprint for success. We accept all her recommendations and have developed a government draft strategy which we will now take to the people of Queensland for input,” Ms Fentiman said.
“This is a huge undertaking, from challenging the culture and attitudes which underpin violence, through to the help we offer victims to ensure they are supported and don’t get lost in the system.
“We want to work with communities right across Queensland to make sure we can deliver the support and services which fit specific local needs and, importantly, prevent domestic and family violence occurring in the first place.”
Actions to implement the Government’s response will include:
- Changes to criminal law: Introducing a circumstance of aggravation of domestic and family violence to be applied to all criminal offences where family and domestic violence has occurred. Consider making non-lethal strangulation a criminal offence.
- Education programs: The Government will develop resources to support primary and secondary state schools in promoting respectful relationships, gender equality, reporting fears and concerns safely and assisting students in identifying and responding safely to violence and abuse. The Government will work with and share resources and advice with the non-state school sector.
- The trial of an integrated response model to deliver seamless help for victims to be piloted in one urban, one regional and one discrete Indigenous community.
- Recognising the Government’s role as a model employer, developing training for public sector employees and managers about dealing with domestic and family violence, the introduction of additional paid domestic violence leave and ensuring protection from unfair dismissal for public sector workers who are victims of domestic and family violence.
- Working with local and federal Governments and the private sector to urge them to adopt similar policies.
- Working with the health sector to ensure more widespread best practice among GPs and midwives when dealing with domestic and family violence.
- $3 million towards a national awareness campaign to reduce violence against women and their children.
- Information sharing: Reducing the barriers to information sharing between agencies to ensure more effective responses and support for victims.
- Shelters: $8 million over two years to establish dedicated 72-hour crisis shelters in Brisbane and Townsville, and a further $11.9 million over four years to operate the shelters.
- Perpetrator programs: More widespread availability of perpetrator intervention initiatives.
- Specialist court: The trial of a specialist Domestic and Family Violence Magistrates Court with a dedicated magistrate to commence in Southport in September.
- Police response: Operational policies will be revised to prioritise victim safety and the QPS has reinstated a State Domestic and Family Violence Coordinator to work with district coordinators to drive direction and policy.
- Legal Support: Funding of $1.1 million in this financial year to expand the Domestic Violence Duty Lawyer Service to 14 locations through Legal Aid Queensland.
For more details about the government’s response, visit www.qld.gov.au/enddomesticandfamilyviolence.