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New offence recommended by domestic violence report

The Special Taskforce into Domestic and Family Violence has recommended tougher criminal penalties and long-term strategies focusing on education and cultural change.
The Special Taskforce into Domestic and Family Violence has recommended tougher criminal penalties and long-term strategies focusing on education and cultural change. Mike Knott

A NEW criminal offence of "non-lethal strangulation" and the embedding of preventive education programs in all schools should be introduced, according to a landmark report by the Special Taskforce on Domestic and Family Violence. 

The recommendations were among 140 in total from the report, handed to Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk today. 

Called Not Now, Not Ever: Putting an End to Domestic and Family Violence in Queensland, the report sets out a range of preventive and punitive measures to tip the balance towards calling perpetrators to account more heavily and better supporting victims of the sad scourge.

The report notes there were 66,016 occurrences of domestic and family violence reported to Queensland police in 2013-14, at a cost to the state's economy of up to $3.2 billion.

In her introduction, taskforce chairwoman Quentin Bryce said: "As we learnt more about domestic and family violence in Queensland, it became clear that three broad areas of reform are necessary; changes in our culture and attitudes, reform to the responses to incidents of abuse and its victims, and reform to the response from our justice system."

Key recommendations include the new strangulation offence - following evidence it was a key indicator to domestic homicide, and a clear sign of escalation of violence - as well as the introduction of a special domestic violence court.

Crucially, however, the report also called for a comprehensive long-term domestic and family violence strategy that included:

  • A communication strategy about what constitutes family violence, services available to victims and perpetrators, and the fact this is an intolerable problem for the entire community to deal with;
  • The creation of a Domestic and Family Violence Death Review Unit to better record homicides and help prevent them from happening in future; and
  • The embedding of education programs into all schools (including non-state schools) that emphasise respectful relationships and gender inequality.

The report goes as far as to suggest principals and deputy principals should be measured in part in their key performance indicators on the success of their implementation of family violence programs.

The Premier said her government had made a commitment to consider all the recommendations made by the taskforce. 

"Women, men, children and families should not have to live under a cloud of fear about violence in their homes," Ms Palaszczuk said. 

Read the full report here.

Former Governor General Quentin Bryce launches Boyne Smelters' month-long campaign raising awareness of domestic and family violence.
Former Governor General Quentin Bryce launches Boyne Smelters' month-long campaign raising awareness of domestic and family violence. Mara Pattison-Sowden

A CHALLENGE FOR EVERYONE TO DEAL WITH

The taskforce emphasised domestic and family violence can happen to anyone, and that the entire community needed to face up to it.

The report challenges:

  • Everyone to get to know their neighbours, to report incidents of possible domestic and family violence and not consider the abuse 'just a domestic' or 'not my business'
  • Everyone to hold their relatives and friends accountable for violent and unacceptable behaviour, and not condone or ignore behaviour of family and friends who breach the relationship of trust by engaging in domestic and family violence
  • Families and friends to be networks of safety for people who have suffered domestic and family violence, to provide an environment where victims feel able to seek help and take action to remove themselves from danger and threats of coercion
  • Leaders of all faiths and religions to take a leadership role in fostering and encouraging respectful relationships in their community, and to teach their communities and congregations that coercive control and violence are never acceptable
  • Leaders of faith to provide support to victims of domestic and family violence and encourage their community to do so
  • Professional athletes and sporting teams of all types to model respectful relationships, and to highlight to fans, athletes and team mates that domestic and family violence will not be tolerated
  • Community sporting organisations to 'start the conversation' about domestic and family violence
  • Organised sporting clubs to train coaches, referees and others involved with the sport, including volunteers, to identify when domestic and family violence may be occurring and how to safely intervene
  • Community organisations to play a leadership role in creating a community environment where all members of their community feel empowered to take action to stop violence. This includes helping members to develop skills in preventing and safely intervening in domestic and family violence incidents in their community
  • Parents & Citizens (P&C) associations to proactively work with school principals and teachers to build school communities that model healthy relationships and respect for all, and to support principals and teachers in the delivery of domestic and family violence prevention initiatives for their school
  • Producers and creators of all kinds of media, including the entertainment industry and the on-line community, to take the opportunity to depict domestic and family violence in ways that create a better understanding of the nature of the problem, as well as ways to best respond to either prevent or intervene.

If you or someone you know is impacted by sexual assault, family or domestic violence, call 1800RESPECT on 1800 737 732 or visit www.1800RESPECT.org.au. In an emergency, call 000

Topics:  domestic violence, editors picks, queensland, terrorathome




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