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Qld inquiry to examine police DV responses

Queensland’s premier has ordered a royal commission into police responses to domestic violence because some women have “fallen through the cracks”.

Annastacia Palaszczuk says the probe is in line with recommendations from the Women’s Safety and Justice Taskforce led by former Court of Appeal president Margaret McMurdo.

The four-month Commission of Inquiry will look at how police have dealt with domestic violence cases.

“Unfortunately, some women have fallen through the cracks, and we want to do everything we can to prevent that from happening,” the premier told reporters on Tuesday.

“There are hundreds of new recruits coming through the police service, and we acknowledge that they are responding to more and more domestic and family violence call outs than ever before.

“So we need to make sure that if there are examples of where things can be done better, that we can improve the systems, and the response.”

Ms Palaszczuk refused to confirm if the probe would examine “cultural issues” highlighted in Justice McMurdo’s report, saying the terms of reference would be released on Wednesday.

The state government also promised introduce a bill to criminalise coercive control by the end of 2023.

Coercive control includes isolating a partner from family and friends, monitoring their movements, controlling their access to money and psychological and emotional manipulation.

That form of abuse disproportionately affects women in Queensland.

The government has also allocated $363 million to expand domestic violence courts, boost support services, plan a First Nations strategy and fund perpetrator programs “to change men’s behaviour”.

Police teams and co-responder programs with domestic violence services will be expanded, and education programs in schools will receive extra funding.

Sue and Lloyd Clarke, whose daughter Hannah and her three children were burned to death in their car by her estranged husband in 2020, welcomed the plan.

“Now we just have to work on the other states. We’ve got Queensland to listen and they’ve listened well,” Ms Clarke told reporters.

“And now if we can move on to other states, if we can get this a national law, that can be fantastic.”

Vanessa Fowler, whose sister Allison-Baden Clay was murdered by her husband Gerard in 2012, said community awareness of coercive control was crucial.

She said her sister suffered coercive control in the lead-up to her killing, and outlawing that form of abuse may have helped her.

“In Allison’s case, there was coercive control, and we as a family didn’t recognise that because at that time there wasn’t a lot of education around it,” Ms Fowler told reporters.

“People were not talking about it. It was a dark conversation, and it was swept under the carpet.

“But of course since her death, we have highlighted the fact that that can happen to anyone, that domestic abuse doesn’t discriminate, and so now people are talking about it.”

Former police commissioner Bob Atkinson, who sits on the government’s Domestic and Family Violence Prevention Council, was hopeful momentum continues.

“We’ve got a way to go. This is tremendous what’s happened today,” Mr Atkinson said.

“We can’t afford to lose the momentum that exists.”

The Women’s Safety and Justice Taskforce is due to hand down its final report into the experience of women in the justice system in June.

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