The first of new legislative reforms to strengthen coercive control laws in Queensland has been introduced in State Parliament.
The Domestic and Family Violence Protection (Combating Coercive Control) and Other Legislation Amendment Bill 2022 was tabled in Parliament on Friday and is the first of an expected suite of reforms aimed at combating non-physical forms of domestic and family violence (DFV).
Attorney-General Shannon Fentiman, in introducing the Bill, said the reforms were important in laying the foundation for the passage through Parliament of a standalone offence of coercive control in 2023.
“This Bill makes a number of amendments to further shift our approach to domestic and family violence to focus on the dangerous patterns of abusive behaviour over time,” Minister Fentiman said.
She said the Bill strengthened laws to address the patterned nature of coercive control, and limited the ability of perpetrators to further traumatise victims during the court process.
Ms Fentiman said proposed amendments would:
- modernise and strengthen the definition of stalking in the Criminal Code
- broaden the definition of domestic and family violence to refer to a ‘pattern of behaviour’
- strengthen the court’s response to cross application for protection orders, to ensure the person most at risk is being protected
- strengthen the court’s consideration of previous domestic violence history.
The Bill addresses several key recommendations by the Women’s Safety and Justice Taskforce first report, ‘Hear Her Voice’.
The Government has already earmarked $363 million to implement reforms.
“The Taskforce stated very clearly that system-wide reform was needed before any new coercive control offence came into effect,” Ms Fentiman said. “These laws pave the way for the introduction of a Bill to establish a criminal offence of coercive control before the end of 2023.”
In addition to the reforms recommended by the taskforce, the Bill will also amend Queensland’s 123-year-old Criminal Code Act 1899 to modernise and update certain sexual offence terminology.
Specifically, it is intended to replace the term ‘carnal knowledge’ and criminal offence title of ‘maintaining a sexual relationship with a child’ to one of ‘repeated sexual conduct with a child’.
These reforms were developed following targeted consultation with domestic, family and sexual violence stakeholders, as well as the legal profession.
The Bill has been referred to the Legal Affairs and Safety Committee for review.