The Women’s Safety and Justice Taskforce has today released its third discussion paper. It seeks views about women and girls’ experiences of the criminal justice system, both as victim-survivors of sexual violence and also as accused persons and offenders.
The Chair of the Taskforce, the Honourable Margaret McMurdo AC, said that examining women and girls’ experiences as victim-survivors of sexual violence was topical, timely and an important issue for the Queensland community.
She said the Taskforce is deeply concerned about the extent of sexual violence against women and girls and that it is too often not reported.
‘Most victims of sexual violence are women and girls. We need to hear about their experiences to help us understand what is working well in the criminal justice system and what needs to be improved,’ she said.
The Taskforce is examining community attitudes toward sexual consent, the barriers women and girls face in reporting sexual violence, and their experiences when they do report, both during the investigation and throughout the legal and court process.
Ms McMurdo said the Taskforce would consider how consent is understood in the community and the impact of Queensland’s laws on women and girls who experience sexual violence.
‘The law sets out what the community considers is criminal behaviour deserving of conviction and punishment. The law works to prevent offences being committed as well as stating what must be proved to convict and punish offenders,’ she said.
The examination of women and girls’ experiences as accused persons and offenders in the criminal justice system is an important area that has not been previously considered by an independent consultative taskforce in Queensland.
‘We need to hear your experiences and observations about why women come in contact with the criminal justice system as accused persons or offenders, their journey through the system, including sentencing and when in custody and transition back into the community,’ Ms McMurdo said.
‘We will also look at how wider issues, such as the chronic over representation of First Nations peoples, diversity, trauma, disability, disadvantage and culture, and values and beliefs within the justice system impact on women and girls.’
These themes were chosen after extensive community consultation during 2021. This discussion paper invites submissions from individuals with lived experience, community members, and organisations, professionals and academics working in these fields.
‘The response to the Taskforce’s first two discussion papers has been overwhelming with over 730 submissions received so far,’ Ms McMurdo said.
‘Each submission – whether from women and girls, organisations or professionals – is read, valued, and considered carefully. We greatly appreciate the time and effort people have put into making such a valuable contribution to our work.’
‘Women and girls with lived experience of sexual violence, as well as those with lived experience as accused persons and offenders, together with the organisations and professionals that support them, can make a secure and, if desired, confidential submission through our website. We again look forward to learning from these voices,’ Ms McMurdo said.
Submissions in response to the Taskforce’s discussion paper are open until 8 April, 2022. They will inform the Taskforce’s final report on women and girls’ experience in the criminal justice system, due to be delivered to Queensland Government by 30 June 2022.
Submissions from those with lived experience can be made at any time.