Highly-respected Queensland Childrens Court President Deborah Richards has been appointed to lead the commission of inquiry to examine Queensland Police Service (QPS) responses to domestic and family violence.
Judge Richards, who has been a judge of Queensland’s District Court since 1998, was today announced as head of the proposed four-month inquiry scheduled to commence on 30 May.
Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk said the landmark inquiry had been established in response to a key recommendation of the Women’s Safety and Justice Taskforce.
“I want to acknowledge the dedicated work of all officers in the Queensland Police Service who help women and children escape violence every day. We know this increasingly makes up a large portion of their workload,” Ms Palaszczuk said.
“However, the issues raised by survivors with the taskforce require further investigation to ensure all women feel confident they’re being listened to.”
Attorney-General Shannon Fentiman said the commission of inquiry would find ways to improve how police respond to women who are trapped in an abusive and controlling relationship.
“Hundreds of survivors told their story to the taskforce – we have heard their voices, and we will consider any improvements that can be made,” Ms Fentiman said.
“We know the system needs to identify these dangerous patterns of controlling behaviour earlier.”
The terms of reference task the commission to consider:
- whether there were any cultural issues identified within the QPS relating to the investigation of domestic and family violence, and if so, the extent and nature of these
- how any cultural issues identified within the QPS relating to the investigation of domestic and family violence have contributed to the overrepresentation of First Nations people in the criminal justice system
- the capability, capacity and structure of the QPS to respond to domestic and family violence, having regard to initiatives undertaken by the QPS in responses to previous reports and events
- examine the adequacy of the current conduct and complaints handling processes against officers to ensure community confidence in the QPS
- any other matter the commission considers relevant for consideration.
Judge Richards will be supported by counsel assisting Pat McCafferty QC to conduct the inquiry.
Judge Richards is the President of the Childrens Court of Queensland and a judge of the District Court. She is also a former crown prosecutor and public defender.
Judge Richards also served as a member of the Taskforce on Women in the Criminal Code in 1998.
For more information on the government response to Report One of the Women’s Safety and Justice Taskforce: Hear her voice, visit the website.