The Not Now, Not Ever report made a range of recommendations to review and amend legislation to better protect victims and hold perpetrators to account.
We have taken swift action to amend Queensland laws to ensure we have a robust, cohesive legislative framework that puts the safety and security of victims first, sends a clear message to perpetrators that domestic violence is not tolerated, and supports the broader systemic reforms underway.
Key legislative amendments passed by Queensland Parliament to date include:
Changes to better protect victims and their families
- Greater police protection – Effective 30 May 2017, the scope of police protection notices is expanded to enable police to better protect a victim as well as their children, relatives and associates (recommendation 140).
- More tailored domestic violence orders – Effective 30 May 2017, the duration of domestic violence orders (DVOs) is increased to a minimum of five years unless the court is satisfied that there are reasons for a shorter order. A court is also required to consider whether additional DVO conditions (beyond the standard conditions that the respondent be of good behaviour and not commit domestic violence) are necessary or desirable to better protect the victim or a named person (recommendation 140).
- Ensuring victims’ voices are heard – Effective 29 January 2016, the views and wishes of people who fear or experience domestic violence should be sought — to the extent it is appropriate and practicable — before a decision affecting them is made under the Domestic and Family Violence Protection Act 2012 (recommendation 129).
- Changes to hearing of cross applications – Effective 29 January 2016, a court is required to hear cross applications together to ensure the person most at risk is identified and protected (recommendation 99).
- Consideration of family law orders – Effective 30 May 2017, a court is required to consider any existing family law order it is aware of and whether that order needs to be varied or suspended where it is inconsistent with the protection needed by the victim or named children (recommendation 99).
- Non-fatal strangulation as a specific offence – Effective 5 May 2016, choking, suffocation or strangulation in a domestic setting is a stand-alone offence under the Criminal Code , with a maximum penalty of seven years’ imprisonment (recommendation 120).
- ‘Special witness’ status for victims – Effective 22 October 2015, under the Evidence Act 1977 victims of domestic violence are automatically treated as a ‘special witness’ to help reduce the trauma of giving evidence in criminal proceedings against the alleged perpetrator (recommendation 133).
Changes to hold perpetrators to account for their actions
- Harsher penalties for DVO breaches – Effective 22 October 2015, maximum penalties for first-time and subsequent breaches of DVOs increased to 3 and 5 years’ imprisonment respectively (recommendation 121).
- Harsher penalties for police protection notice and release condition breaches –Effective 30 May 2017, maximum penalties for breaches of police protection notices and release conditions are increased to three years’ imprisonment (to be consistent with the penalty for a breach of a DVO).
- ‘Ouster’ conditions for perpetrators – Effective 29 January 2016, a courts is required to consider imposing an ouster condition, to remove a perpetrator from the family home, in all applications for DVOs (recommendation 117).
- Recording domestic and family violence related convictions – Effective 1 December 2015, the domestic and family violence context of criminal offending can be recorded by way of a notation under the Penalties and Sentences Act 1992 . This reform helps to ensure that patterns of behaviour of those who commit acts of domestic and family violence are clearly evident to police officers and courts (recommendation 119).
- Aggravating factor on sentence – Effective 5 May 2016, domestic and family violence is an aggravating factor on sentencing for criminal offences under the Penalties and Sentences Act 1992 (recommendation 118).
Changes to support improved service responses and other systemic reforms
- Information sharing – Effective 30 May 2017, a comprehensive information sharing framework will commence. The framework facilitates information sharing between key government and non-government entities to enable both better risk assessment and management of serious domestic and family violence threats (recommendation 78).
To support practitioners in the field of domestic and family violence, such as specialist services, police and doctors, to appropriately share information under the new legislative provisions, guidelines have been developed. Find out more about the Domestic and Family Violence Information Sharing Guidelines.
- Police can refer people to specialist service providers – Effective 30 May 2017, police can refer victims and perpetrators to specialist domestic and family violence service providers, without consent, if there is a threat to a person’s life, health or safety, or if the person has committed domestic violence.
- National Domestic Violence Order Scheme – Upon commencement of amendments to the Domestic and Family Violence Protection Act 2012 made in October 2016, model laws will be implemented to enable Queensland to participate in the National Domestic Violence Order Scheme, which will provide for the automatic mutual recognition of DVOs across Australia (recommendation 90).