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Queensland Says Enough!

by PeakCare Qld on 17th September 2015

Home -> Articles -> 2015 -> September -> Queensland Says Enough!

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Last week in Queensland we witnessed some of the most horrific examples of domestic and family violence. The week began with the murder of a 6 year old little girl, allegedly at the hands of her father. The following day a young mother to a little girl was run off the road then beaten to death, allegedly by her former partner. Then a mother of 4 children was shot dead in a public place, allegedly by the husband she had fled. Another woman was attacked with a machete, allegedly by her estranged husband. Fortunately she survived.

Such was the extent of the brutality that spilled from behind closed doors to the public domain that it galvanised the government and community to act. To act collectively and with expediency to protect women and children from violence.

1 in 4 Australian children have witnessed domestic and family violence. In Queensland it’s estimated that over 40 thousand children are impacted by domestic and family violence each year.

Last year in Queensland, reported occurrences of domestic and family violence increased to 72,516 a 30% jump from the previous year. There were 29 domestic violence murders, a staggering increase from the unacceptable 16 the previous year.

Given these statistics and the events of the last week alone, there is no question that Queensland, along with the rest of Australia is facing an issue of domestic and family violence described by many as an epidemic. The recently established specialist Court to deal with Domestic and Family Violence matters currently being trialled on the Gold Coast is in its second week. It was reported that yesterday alone, 70 cases were heard. This week the Queensland government announced further urgent responses.

On Sunday Premier Palaszczuk announced a range of improvements to responses to those experiencing domestic violence, including priority attention for anyone who attends the front counter of a Police Station with a domestic violence complaint and mandating that the most senior officer in charge sign off on the decided action. She also announced three hundred body cameras for police to assist with evidence gathering for immediate roll out on the Gold Coast, an identified area given its high incidents of domestic and family violence.

Then through the week, the Palaszczuk government announced fast tracked legislation to increase penalties for offenders in breach of domestic violence orders. This in effect means maximum penalties for first time breaches of up to 3 years and 5 years for further breaches.

Other recommendations will be referred to a parliamentary committee but are expected to be passed next month. These include domestic violence-related offences being clearly specified on charge sheets and criminal records, to ensure courts in future cases have a clearer picture of the prior behaviour of the person appearing before the court.

A special witness status for those who have allegedly been subjected to domestic violence is another, ensuring that they don’t have to be giving evidence in the same room as the person charged with the offence. The aim of this is to protect those who are giving evidence from intimidation tactics in the court room.

"Victims of domestic and family violence will feel more assured in coming forward, speaking up and seeking help knowing that they have support through the justice system," said Attorney-General, Yvette D'Ath. That’s an important change considering the estimated 80% of domestic violence cases that weren't reported to Police in Queensland according to the Not now Not Ever Report. Cabinet also considered plans to create an independent death review panel, to ensure that gaps in services and responses to domestic violence victims are identified.

Dame Quentin Bryce who headed the taskforce responsible for the Not Now Not Ever Report released in February; the 140 recommendations of which the government accepted in full, will now Chair the Premier’s Implementation Council. Given her brief to fast track her recommendations and reforms aimed at combatting violence against women and children in Queensland, she is focused on ensuring that the first call for help for a woman threatened will be heard and responded to. To Dame Quentin Bryce, this response is critical.

Further legal changes, such as increasing penalties for domestic assault will be considered for a sitting of Parliament later this year. Other recommendations from the Not Now, Not Ever report can proceed without legislative change.

We’re all well aware that governments alone cannot eradicate domestic and family violence. A community response is required. It was heartening last week to see the spontaneous response by group of individuals who established #StandUpQld. In leading the campaign, father of three, Darren Lockyer, publicly stated that domestic violence was unacceptable and parents should be setting a better example for their children. He was moved and saddened by the recent events of violence against women: “It is not the society we want to live in nor should we accept it. Behaviours don’t change overnight but we need to draw a line in the sand and get serious about the way we treat other human beings with respect, especially our women and children.”

Queensland Origin great Trevor Gillmeister said it was up to men to stand up. “There is nothing tough about violence against women,” Gillmeister said. “Being a man means you protect the people that you care about, and that care about you. Being abusive or violent, that’s not tough. Everyone gets frustrated sometimes. You might be feeling hurt or angry or whatever, but that is never an excuse to lash out with violence.”

Many others in Queensland including the Premier, media personalities and other sporting greats also committed to speaking out about domestic and family violence through the Stand Up Queensland Campaign. Those in the sector who’ve been campaigning for eons to bring attention to this urgent social issue are being joined by these voices. We now need a whole of community commitment and response to join with long term experts who’ve campaigned tirelessly and these welcome new campaigners to collectively address the violence against women and children in our society.

A rally will be held at Queens Park, George Street Brisbane . The organisers have stated that this rally will be a peaceful gathering to remember those who have died this year in Queensland in domestic violence related homicides. It is also an opportunity for Queenslanders to stand together to say Enough! They’re clear that domestic violence has no place in a civilized society. They’re calling for Zero Tolerance to domestic violence.

Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk, Opposition Leader Lawrence Springborg and Police Commissioner Ian Stewart will address the rally. They will be joined by survivors, family members, service providers and men working to bring about change. The organisers ask that those attending wear black and bring a red rose as a symbol of remembrance.

They’re asking the community to attend and say Enough! We all know that enough was enough many deaths ago. We need now to unite as a community and stand with anti- domestic violence campaigners, our government and all other stakeholders in ensuring that in saying enough is enough we mean business and as a society we’ll work together to ensure no more violence or deaths!