State Parliament has passed the first of new legislative reforms to strengthen coercive control laws in Queensland.
The Domestic and Family Violence Protection (Combating Coercive Control) and Other Legislation Amendment Bill 2022 was passed in Parliament yesterday 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 a statement last night, said the Bill strengthened laws to address the patterned nature of coercive control, and laid the foundation to create a standalone offence of coercive control later this year.
“This is a significant step toward achieving our commitment to legislate against coercive control,” she said.
“We know how dangerous these behaviours can be. As we pass the terrible anniversary of the murder of Hannah Clarke and her three children, I want her family and friends to know that this will be their legacy.
“This is about identifying and responding to the red flags of coercive control earlier before blue police tape surrounds another family home.”
Ms Fentiman said the amendments included:
- modernise and strengthen the offence of unlawful stalking in the Criminal Code to better capture the broad range of tactics used by perpetrators
- broaden the definition of domestic and family violence to include behaviour that occurs over time and should be considered in the context of the whole relationship
- strengthen the court’s response to cross applications for protection orders to ensure the protection of the person most at risk
- broaden the court’s ability to award costs to help prevent using the legal process to further abuse victims
- strengthen the consideration of previous domestic violence or criminal history
- bring domestic violence complainants and other witnesses within the protected witness scheme
- allow for the giving of jury directions and expert evidence on domestic violence.
The amendments respond to a range of recommendations made by the Women’s Safety and Justice Taskforce.
In addition to the reforms recommended by the taskforce, the Bill amends the Criminal Code to modernise and update some sexual offence terminology, such as ‘carnal knowledge’ and ‘maintaining a sexual relationship with a child’.