By Georgia Parsonson
The Women’s Safety and Justice Taskforce seeks feedback from the community regarding the experience of women and girls in relation to sexual violence in the criminal justice system.
A discussion paper has been released suggesting further examination of the barriers surrounding the ability and willingness to report sexual offences and obtaining convictions. Such an examination, it is recommended, should also include community attitudes, police responses, and the adequacy of the relevant laws in addressing this issue.
According to her, the Honourable Margaret McMurdo AC is the Chair of the Taskforce, and according to her, the extent of sexual violence against women and girls in the criminal justice system is a significant concern.
“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.”
The discussion paper released by the Taskforce is the second of its kind. It covers the second part of the Taskforce’s terms of references, particularly examining the experiences of women and girls within the criminal justice system.
“We also want to examine why women come into contact with the criminal justice system as offenders, their journey through the system, sentencing options, and the prison experience,” Ms McMurdo said.
The discussion paper recognises vital points of consideration regarding 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 regarding the most recent discussion paper must be received by the 23rd of July. The Taskforce has already received over 400 proposals regarding its Terms of Reference. It is still in discussion regarding the examination of coercive control and the need for a standalone ‘Commit Domestic Violence’ offence.
Submissions for the first discussion paper close on the 9th of July.
“We’re seeking responses from people with lived experience. Service providers, legal professionals and others,” Ms McMurdo said.
Ms McMurdo is in discussion 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, and the Queensland Government Statistician’s Office. She is also in contact with service providers, including first responders, police, and lawyers in the Mt Isa region.
The Women’s Safety and Justice Taskforce’s final report on the experiences of women and girls in the criminal justice system is due to be shared with the Queensland Government in March 2022.
To read Discussion Paper 2 and submit it, visit: www.womenstaskforce.qld.gov.au.
If you have any concerns, contact:
DV Connect: 1800 811 811 (Available 24 hours, 7 days a week)
Sexual Assault Helpline: 1800 010 120 (Available 7:30 am-11:30 pm, 7 days a week)
Lifeline: 13 11 44 (Available 24 hours, 7 days a week)