Written by Declan Notley
The Queensland Government has recently announced plans to create an independent taskforce to consult on potential “coercive control” legislation. Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk said the taskforce would be chaired by Justice Margaret McMurdo, former president of the Queensland Court of Appeal. The taskforce will report back to the government in October. It will consult domestic violence survivors, service providers, lawyers, and the general community on factors to consider in designing the new legislation.
Those involved say that the new legislation will afford better protection to victims of domestic violence. In a recent media statement, the Queensland Premier said that “we’ve seen legislation against coercive control in places like the UK, and it’s important that we too have legislation in place to better protect victims…. this is something that many people have been raising with myself, with the Attorney-General, and my Government…. we want to do everything we possibly can to prevent it and this may mean legislative amendments … but we need this taskforce to do this really, really important work first.”
Queensland Attorney-General Shannon Fentiman has said that she hoped to have a Bill before Parliament early next year. She said that depending on the findings of the taskforce, the issue is something that may require a separate piece of legislation or it may be incorporated into existing pieces of legislation.
At the moment, Tasmania is the only state in Australia to have criminalised some elements of the behaviour. There are similar plans to legislate against it in New South Wales, Victoria, South Australia and the Northern Territory.
In 2015, England and Wales became the first nations in the world to legislate against “controlling or coercive behaviour” in an intimate or family relationship, making it punishable with up to five years in jail.
Scotland followed in 2018, with its laws drafted to reflect the gendered pattern of intimate partner violence and behaviours between ex-partners.
Those laws have been described by experts as the “gold standard” and are likely to be the standard upon which the Queensland government bases its draft legislation.