Review engagement heads north

At the QLRC review launch: Judge Rafter and Margaret McMurdo. Back row: Panellists Saul Holt KC, Todd Fuller KC, Prof Kate Fitz-Gibbon and Melia Benn.

The Queensland Law Reform Commission (QLRC) is hoping for “strong engagement” as it continues work on the review of particular criminal defences.

Following the launch in Brisbane last month, Commission Deputy-Chair, His Honour Judge Anthony Rafter SC travelled to Cairns to meet with stakeholders in Far North Queensland.

“Strong engagement in the review is critical to its success so it was encouraging to have more than 100 attend in person, with more than 50 participating online,” Judge Rafter said, after the February launch in the CBD.

He said the Commission had been asked to review self-defence, provocation, killing for preservation in an abusive domestic relationship, and domestic discipline.

“We have also been asked to consider the mandatory penalty of life imprisonment for murder,” he said.

Soon after the launch, members of the Commission’s review team headed up to Cairns, where Judge Rafter presented a keynote address at the 2024 Global Domestic Violence Conference.


“The trip to Cairns was an important one, as it allowed us to both raise awareness of this review at the conference, as well as meet with key stakeholders,” he said.

At the conference Judge Rafter discussed several cases highlighting how the defences had operated in a domestic and family violence context.

He said the Commission was “required to consider the findings and recommendations of the Women’s Safety and Justice Taskforce”.

In particular, he noted the taskforce’s observation that “understandings of domestic and family violence are continually evolving and it is important for the laws and procedures to keep pace”.

Judge Rafter emphasised that it was critical for the Commission to hear not only from the legal profession, but from victim-survivors, their families and support workers, First Nations people and communities, and academics with expertise in diverse fields.

“Hearing those voices will help the Commission form the best recommendations for laws which work both in principle and practice,” he said.


While in Cairns, the review team also met with Stephen Tillett, Queensland’s First Nations Justice Officer, and representatives from the First Nations Justice Office, the Cairns Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions, Legal Aid Queensland, the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Legal Service, North Queensland Women’s Legal Service, the Cairns Domestic Violence Service, and Warringu Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Corporation, along with barristers and other solicitors.

The meetings allowed the review team to explain the specifics of the review, its background, scope and the plan moving forward.

They involved fruitful discussions about the issues in the review, relevant cases for the Commission to investigate and important contextual information about the experience of domestic and family violence and the unique regional considerations faced in the Far North.

For more information, go to Review of particular criminal defences | QLRC

A recording of the launch event can be viewed here.

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