Three separate domestic violence deaths just days apart in south-east Queensland have prompted Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk to fast-track the implementation of the recommendations of the Special Taskforce on Domestic and Family Violence.
The deaths of a child and two women between September 7 and 10 occurred less than a month after the government published its response to the Task Force’s report, Not now, not ever: Putting an end to domestic and family violence in Queensland.
In its August 18 response, the government said: “Domestic and family violence is a serious and complex issue to address. At its foundations domestic and family violence is about gender inequality, power imbalance and control of the vulnerable members of our community through fear. Adding to this complexity, domestic and family violence also has significant and long-lasting impacts on children and young people.”
The government announced it had accepted all 140 recommendations of the report, including the 121 directed at the government.
The recommendations involve a range of initiatives to provide a prompt and coordinated response to women in situations of domestic violence.
The dual emphasis is on making perpetrators accept responsibility as well as programs aimed at support (in the community and workplace), and prevention through attitude change (programs in the school system).
The current budget has allocated $31.3 million over four years to implement the recommendations. This includes a trial of a specialist domestic violence court in Southport — given the high incidence of domestic violence in the Gold Coast region — as well as two new crisis centres in Brisbane and Townsville.
In addition, $17 million was allocated over three years for Stage 1 of the Stronger Families Reforms, which will provide a further $1.5 million for DV Connect, an around the clock domestic violence counselling service, and $1.5 million to expand domestic violence legal aid to 14 locations.
Included in the August document was a strategic plan and timeline for implementation. This scheduled the introduction of amending legislation in relation to penalties for perpetrators and to establish domestic violence and family violence death reviews, to next February.
However as a result of the recent spate of domestic violence murders the premier announced the fast-tracking of the implementation plan. She also said that DV Connect would get all the funds it needed to meet the increased demands on its services. Immediate additional funding was allocated to enable the service to recruit three extra workers.
The legislative program was also brought forward. On September 15 the Criminal Law (Domestic Violence) Amendment Bill 2015, and the Coroners (Domestic and Family Violence Death Review and Advisory Board) Amendment Bill 2015 were introduced into Parliament and have been referred to committee stage.
Palaszczuk announced that she would approach new Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull to convene a national summit on the prevention of domestic violence.