Provocation defence to domestic violence not good enough

PROVOCATION as a defence must go, a leading criminal law expert says.

Reflecting on the Special Taskforce on Domestic and Family Violence report handed to the State Government last month, Professor Heather Douglas said she welcomed its recommendations but a key change was needed.

"Queensland remains the only jurisdiction to have provocation as a defence to a simple assault - that should be a sentencing issue rather than a defence issue," the University of Queensland academic, who specialises in domestic violence research, said.

"It (provocation) should go, absolutely.

"I worry that provocation is an easy thing for a perpetrator to raise in response to any suggestion that he's assaulted the victim.

"We know that provocation has been determined to be really broad - for example to include words."

>>SIGN THE PETITION TO HELP END DOMESTIC VIOLENCE

Bar Association of Queensland president Shane Doyle said his organisation would examine the report to identify how his members could improve their responses to family violence.

"As legal professionals we witness first-hand the effects of family and domestic violence in our community," he said.

"It is vital that steps have been taken to evaluate and improve the systems currently in place to prevent this insidious form of violence and abuse.

"This is a matter that needs close attention. In order to tackle the problem we need to better understand how we can respond as a collective and this report facilitates this.

"We will also look at establishing partnerships with other professions and service providers to develop a holistic approach to addressing violence and abuse in intimate relationships and to contribute to the changes in awareness and attitudes which will be necessary to do so."

Taskforce members including police, legal, welfare and domestic violence representatives spent five months travelling around the state listening to victims relive their trauma.

The report's recommendations include setting up a specific domestic and family violence court with magistrates specialising in that area of the law; a state-wide prevention strategy; tougher sentencing options; and a new charge of non-lethal strangulation.

Ms Bryce said she was shocked by some of the stories from survivors.

"They (the statistics) are shocking, but do not do full justice to the trauma we have heard about from survivors," she said.

"Stories of women brutalised, raped, beaten, controlled, isolated." 

 

NOT NOW, NOT EVER

Special Taskforce on Domestic and Family Violence key recommendations:

  • Specialist domestic and family violence court with specialist magistrates.
  • State government prevention strategy
  • Introduce tougher penalties.
  • A new charge of non-lethal strangulation.
  • A massive media campaign aimed at educating the community and reducing violence.
  • Public school education programs.
  • Tailored response for victims from minority, indigenous and ethnic groups.
  • Funding and criteria changes to make accessing emergency housing easier for victims and their children.


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