Sexual violence in Taskforce’s sights

The Women’s Safety and Justice Taskforce has today released its second discussion paper seeking community feedback on a proposal to focus on women and girls’ experience of sexual violence in the criminal justice system.

The Taskforce suggests delving deeper into the barriers around reporting sexual offences and obtaining convictions, such as community attitudes, police responses and the adequacy of current laws—including consent.

The Chair of the Taskforce, the Honourable Margaret McMurdo AC, said the Taskforce is concerned about the extent of sexual violence against women and girls.

‘The Taskforce has a limited time to explore our terms of reference and the scope of women and girls’ experience of the criminal justice system is considerable,’ Ms McMurdo said.  

‘As most victims of sexual violence are women and girls, we propose that we examine the criminal justice system’s current response to sexual offending, find out what’s working well, and what needs to be improved.’  

‘We want to hear if Queenslanders think this is the right approach.’

Discussion Paper 2 is the Taskforce’s first paper on the second part of terms of reference examining the experiences of women in the criminal justice system.

‘We also want to examine why women come in to contact with the criminal justice system as offenders, their journey through the system, sentencing options and the prison experience,’ Ms McMurdo said.

Discussion Paper 2 outlines key themes for potential consideration of both areas.  

‘We propose looking at how wider issues such as diversity, disadvantage, trauma, and the culture of the justice system may also impact on women and girls’ experiences,’ Ms McMurdo said.

‘The community, however, may want to give priority to other matters.’

Submissions on Discussion Paper 2 must be received by 23 July, as the Taskforce plans to release more detailed discussion papers exploring the agreed key themes in detail.  

‘We’re seeking responses from people with lived experience, service providers, legal professionals and others,’ Ms McMurdo said.

View the discussion paper

The Taskforce has already received over 400 submissions on its terms of reference and is still consulting on it first discussion paper - examining coercive control and the need for a standalone ‘commit domestic violence’ offence - which closes for submissions on 9 July 2021.

Ms McMurdo continues to hold discussions with key stakeholders, including Peter Martin, Commissioner of Queensland Corrective Services,  the Honourable Amanda Camm MP, Shadow Minister for the Prevention of Domestic, Family and Sexual Violence, the Bar Association of Queensland, the Queensland Family and Child Commission, the Queensland Government Statistician’s Office, and service providers, including key first responders, police and lawyers in the Mt Isa region.  

The Taskforce’s final report on women and girls’ experience in the criminal justice system is due to be delivered to Queensland Government in March 2022.

*If anything in this statement has brought up concerns, contact DVConnect Womensline on 1800 811 811 (24 hours, 7 days per week), Sexual Assault Helpline on 1800 010 120 (7.30am to 11.30pm, 7 days), or Lifeline on 13 11 44 (24 hours, 7 days).

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