New laws to tackle domestic, family and sexual violence in Queensland

Published Wednesday, 06 March, 2024 at 01:40 PM


The Honourable Steven Miles

Minister for Health, Mental Health and Ambulance Services and Minister for Women
The Honourable Shannon Fentiman

  • New laws passed in the Queensland Parliament will criminalise coercive control, strengthen consent laws and improve the experience of victims in court.
  • These changes will better protect victims of domestic, family and sexual violence, and hold perpetrators to account.
  • The raft of reforms respond to recommendations from the Women’s Safety and Justice Taskforce.

The Miles Government has passed landmark reforms that will drive change in the way frontline services and courts respond to domestic, family and sexual violence.

The Criminal Law (Coercive Control and Affirmative Consent) and Other Legislation Amendment Bill 2023 passed in the Queensland Parliament today following its introduction in October 2023.

Coercive control is a pattern of abusive behaviours over time that can include emotional, psychological and economic abuse, isolation, intimidation, sexual coercion and cyberstalking.

The abuse has serious and traumatic impacts for a victim. It can be subtle and insidious, and individually targeted and tailored to a victim.

Once commenced, the new standalone offence of coercive control will carry a maximum penalty of 14 years imprisonment and will criminalise conduct of an adult where:

  • the person is in a domestic relationship with another person;
  • the person engages in a course of conduct against the other person that consists of domestic violence occurring on more than one occasion;
  • the person intends the course of conduct to coerce or control the other person; and
  • the course of conduct would, in all the circumstances, be reasonably likely to cause the other person harm (with ‘harm’ defined in the Bill to mean any detrimental effect on the person’s physical, emotional, financial, psychological or mental wellbeing, whether temporary or permanent).

The Bill will also emend consent laws to ensure they better reflect community expectations of equality and mutual respect in sexual relationships.

Rape myths and narratives around ‘implied consent’ exist in our society. Adopting an affirmative model of consent requires free and voluntary agreement to participate in a sexual activity.

The non-exhaustive list of circumstances where a person does not consent will be expanded. The new laws will also recognise non-consensual condom removal or tampering with a condom – known as ‘stealthing’, as rape.

These reforms are aimed at driving change in the way sexual offences are prosecuted and defended.

Other reforms in the Bill include:

  • introducing jury directions for sexual offence proceedings
  • imposing a duty on the court to disallow improper questions
  • a new offence of engaging in domestic and family violence (DFV) to aid a respondent
  • new aggravating factors for DFV offences and the establishment of a court-based perpetrator diversion scheme.

Work is underway to ensure the community and frontline responders are prepared for the changes to the law before it comes into effect. The coercive control offence will have delayed commencement to allow this critical work to occur.

To help guide community awareness and understanding of coercive control, the Queensland Government has also released the Coercive Control Communication Framework.

The Framework is designed to guide organisations, businesses, and individuals in the community, increasing awareness regarding the nature and impacts of coercive control and domestic and family violence in a trauma informed way, and advising how bystanders can recognise and support victims.

Comprehensive research and consultation were undertaken in 2023 to inform the Framework – helping provide a strong community education program for Queenslanders about all forms of domestic and family violence.

For information about the Coercive Control Communication Framework, visit:

Quotes attributable to Premier Steven Miles: 

“Our government cares about women and the safety of women.

“That’s why during Queensland Women’s Week we have made some monumental announcements for the women and girls in this great state.

“Today, I am so incredibly proud of this historic legislation.

“What we know is that coercive control is the most common factor that leads to domestic violence murders.

“We have made strides to help people identify and report coercive control and we know by criminalising this offence, even more lives will be saved.”

Quotes attributable to Minister for Health, Mental Health and Minister for Women Shannon Fentiman:

“This would not have been possible without the fierce advocacy of Sue and Lloyd Clarke, the family of Allison Baden-Clay and the hundreds of brave women who shared their stories with the Women’s Safety and Justice Taskforce.

“We know that non-physical violence is just as dangerous as physical violence.

“Coercive control is also the biggest predicting factor for intimate partner homicide.

“That’s why we have taken strong steps to make coercive control an offence in Queensland.”

“Reforms to consent laws aim to improve the experience of victims of sexual offences when they make the brave decision to come forward and hold their perpetrators to account.

“Affirmative consent shifts the scrutiny away from the victim and towards the accused, looking to the actions they took to confirm consent.

“Stealthing is a serious violation of consent - it is rape, and it should be treated as such under the law.”

“The Miles Government is absolutely committed to keeping women and girls safe from violence and holding perpetrators to account – that’s what these laws will do.”

Quotes attributable to CEO of Women’s Legal Service Queensland Nadia Bromley:

“The introduction of the offence of coercive control is a significant milestone in improving the safety of Queenslanders.

“The law has a critical role to play in both holding people using violence to account and in raising community awareness of coercive control as a form of violence.

“The introduction of affirmative consent reflects the fundamental human right of bodily integrity – and the obligation we all have to respect it.

“There is much work left to do to create more consistent and safer outcomes for victim-survivors, but today was a big step towards a better future.

“All of the changes today were possible because of the voices of brave survivors; we acknowledge their courage and resilience and thank the Miles government for listening and taking action.”