Following targeted consultation with our members, QCOSS has made a submission to the Women’s Safety and Justice Taskforce on women and girls’ experiences across the criminal justice system – both as victim-survivors of sexual violence and as accused persons or offenders.
We support recommendations in the Hear her Voice report that call for the Queensland Government to work in partnership with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples to co-design a specific whole-of-government and community strategy to address the overrepresentation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples in Queensland’s criminal justice. We recognise the violent relationship First Nations women experience with the criminal justice system. First Nations women are more likely to be misidentified by police as perpetrators of DFV.
We also support recommendations in the Hear her Voice report to that call for development and delivery of evidence-based and trauma-informed training and education on domestic and family violence and coercive-control, along with improved accessibility and responsiveness for people with diverse lived experiences.
Women and girls from migrant and refugee communities face a number of challenges when they come into contact with the criminal justice system, including a lack of understanding of the Australian legal system, barriers to accessing support services and cultural beliefs. Solutions should be focused on education, training for cultural competency and adequately resourcing specialist services.
We believe the Queensland Government missed a critical opportunity for reform last year by passing the Criminal Code (Consent and Mistake of Fact) and Other Legislation Amendment Act 2021 without addressing key issues highlighted by the community services sector and leading academics. We recommend that Queensland adopt a strong model of affirmative consent.
We refer the Taskforce to the submission made by Ending Violence Against Women Queensland (EVAWQ) and support their focus on primary prevention and investing in addressing the drivers of inequality so that violence does not occur in the first place. We also note the submission made by QSAN that highlights the lack of specialist sexual violence response services in large parts of regional Queensland and support their recommendation to increase long term funding to ensure no women, men and children are turned away because of funding constraints.