Response to Discussion Paper 1: Options for legislating against coercive control and the creation of a standalone domestic violence offence
Our engagement with our network and members, has revealed that our sector has strong and diverse views about legislating against coercive control and the creation of a standalone criminal offence for domestic violence. The purpose of our submission is to present the diverse views expressed by our members and supporters and focus on key risks and benefits to legislating against coercive control.
Our research has uncovered two key risk areas:
- The experiences of First Nations women experiencing domestic and family violence and interacting with the justice system broadly and the police specifically was raised as a significant issue.
- Impact of the legislation on Culturally and Linguistically Diverse (CALD) communities – including a misunderstanding of what constituted a DFV offence, and perpetrators who are unaware that some of their behaviours constituted coercive control.
In our submission we outline these recommendations:
- Apply a human rights perspective in considering the best approrach to criminalising DFV and coercive control.
- Invest in community driven solutions.
- Carefully evaluate evidence from other jurisdictions.
When developing a strategy to improve the safety of women, including by responding to coercive control, the human rights framework found in Queensland’s Human Rights Act should be applied to ensure that the reform does not unjustifiably limit human rights.
Any law reform will need to be accompanied by comprehensive and culturally appropriate community education. In addition, increased funding and capacity building for police, lawyers and judges should be prioritised including to ensure that First Nations women are not incorrectly identified as perpetrators.