Taskforce to examine women’s experiences in criminal justice system

Published Thursday, 11 March, 2021 at 09:43 AM


Premier and Minister for Trade
The Honourable Annastacia Palaszczuk

Attorney-General and Minister for Justice, Minister for Women and Minister for the Prevention of Domestic and Family Violence
The Honourable Shannon Fentiman

The Premier has announced a wide-ranging review into the experience of women across the criminal justice system to be undertaken by the Women’s Safety and Justice taskforce, led by Margaret McMurdo AC.

Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk said last month’s announcement to legislate against coercive control was the first part of work being done by the taskforce that is also going to examine issues faced by women when accessing the criminal justice system.

“We know that women face barriers when reporting against domestic, family and sexual violence,” the Premier said.

“And while we’ve made significant progress to prevent and respond to domestic, family and sexual violence in Queensland, we know there is more work to be done.

“We know that the experience of the criminal justice system for women as victims, survivors or accused is different than it is for men.

“We also know that women and girls are disproportionally affected as victims of sexual assault, but it remains one of the most under-reported crimes, and only a small proportion of reported cases are prosecuted in court and achieve a conviction.

“Women also face a range of barriers when they seek help, which can draw out the legal process adding to their trauma.

“With one in five Queensland women having experienced sexual violence since the age of 15 and one in four women having experienced violence at the hands of their partner, we want to make sure these crimes are being reported and justice is being done.

“My government is committed to generational change and that’s why we’re leading an ongoing program of reform to end domestic, family and sexual violence, and to improve the criminal justice system for women.”

The taskforce announced today includes:

  • Tracy Linford APM, Deputy Commissioner, Queensland Police Service (QPS);
  • Laura Reece, Barrister-at-Law;
  • Di MacLeod, Deputy Director, Queensland Sexual Assault Network;
  • Gillian O’Brien, Manager, WWILD;
  • Thelma Schwartz, Principal Legal Officer, Queensland Indigenous Family Violence Legal Service;
  • Patrick O’Leary, Professor, Griffith University;
  • Kelly-Ann Tansley, Manager, Brisbane Domestic Violence Service – Micah Projects
  • Dr Nora Amath, Islamic Women’s Association of Australia;
  • Philip McCarthy, QC, Acting Deputy Director of Public Prosecutions; and
  • Alexis Oxley, Solicitor

Attorney-General and Minister for the Prevention of Domestic and Family Violence, Shannon Fentiman said the taskforce would deliver the critical legislative framework needed to better protect women.

“I am in constant awe of the strength and courage shown by Queensland women when they come forward and ask for help,” Minister Fentiman said.

“Supporting victims, listening, and believing them, is more important than ever.

“As well as recognising the trauma of victims and the support they need with media headlines dominated by domestic, family and sexual violence.

“The Women’s Safety and Justice taskforce will look into possible future areas of reform, including attitudinal change, prevention, service response, training for first responders and legislative amendment.

“Each member of the taskforce has in-depth knowledge of women’s experience across the criminal justice system from all across Queensland,” said Minister Fentiman.

The taskforce would consult widely and make recommendations on:

  • how best to legislate against coercive control as a form of domestic and family violence;
  • the need for a new offence of “commit domestic violence”; and
  • other areas warranting future reform to improve women’s experience in the criminal justice system, including both legislative and non-legislative measures.

“The Palaszczuk Government has committed to tackling domestic and family violence on several fronts, and the establishment of the taskforce is a significant step towards meeting this commitment,” Minister Fentiman said.

The Women’s Safety and Justice Taskforce has been asked to provide its recommendations on how to best legislate against coercive control by October this year and to deliver recommendations to Government on how to best improve women’s experience in the criminal justice system and by March next year.

*If anything in this statement has brought up concerns, contact Lifeline, and 1800 RESPECT.


Media contact:

Zoe Russell (Premier’s office) - 0439 982 347

Penni Pappas (Minister Fentiman’s office) – 0438 747 540

Megan Giles (Margaret McMurdo AC) - 0421 144 343