Family Law Blog and News

Domestic Violence – the conversation we need to have

Domestic Violence – the conversation we need to have

Today, our office has been contacted many times with people expressing their thanks. Thanks,  for our principal Jennifer Hetherington speaking out about domestic violence and the recent matters that have come to light in the media.

As reported in the Brisbane Times, Jennifer has called for an enquiry by the Queensland Premier and Police Minister into the culture in the Queensland Police Service around domestic violence. This is as a result of conduct such as a Queensland police officer deliberately releasing the address of a domestic violence victim to the perpetrator.

Domestic violence is a scourge on Australian society.

Hetherington Family Law is a guardian sponsor of 3rd Space, a centre in Brisbane providing facilities and practical support services for homeless persons. One of the biggest causes of homelessness for women, is domestic violence.

Domestic violence affects both men and women.

But statistically, more women than men.

However, the point of this post, is not to debate the gender of victims.

This is about the culture in the Queensland Police Service.

This is about the stories I hear from victims whose complaints of breaches of Protection Orders have not been taken seriously by the Police.

This is about a police officer breaching his duty to protect and serve and in the process, endangering a member of the community.

Whether that victim was male or female is not the issue here.

The issue is about the Queensland Police Service invoking the laws they are sworn to enforce and quite frankly, doing their jobs.

It’s time for the conversation to change.

So what needs to happen to get real about domestic violence prevention?

An official investigation is now essential.  A police officer accessed the confidential police database, QPRIME, and texted the address of a domestic violence victim to her abusive former husband.

The Brisbane man, convicted of domestic violence, who threatened to kill his former partner, strap bombs to their two children and blow them up as “martyrs”, is now on the run after failing to appear in court to face another charge of breaching a Protection Order.

The woman and her children are now in hiding, terrified that her ex partner is on the loose and police have no idea where he is.

I understand Queensland magistrates issued 32,300 domestic violence protection orders last year alone. That’s more than 87 Queenslanders every day, admitting they’re living in fear. That doesn’t include those victims who endure domestic violence but don’t report it.

The Queensland state government is spending more than $320 million over six years on domestic violence measures.

We had the Not Now, Not Ever report into domestic violence and there’s an expensive advertising campaign underway now to Do Something if people suspect a neighbour or workmate is a domestic violence victim.

So revelations of a police officer accessing the database and texting a woman’s address to her abusive ex partner, and encouraging the man to intimidate her with this information, is beyond disgusting.

The fact the police officer is still employed and has not been prosecuted is baffling.

It makes a mockery of the state government domestic violence campaigns.

The Premier and Police Minister need to step up immediately and launch a formal inquiry into the police mindset in this state.

The abusive ex partner had travelled overseas but was able to freely return because he was not flagged on any official terror watch list. When queried, the Australian Federal Police stated the man’s threats to kill his children as part of a family dispute was not considered to be terrorism.

Police thinking seems to be that terrorism must involve a political purpose,  which shows how out of touch they are with the community. When is safety going to be taken seriously by our authorities?

Let’s focus on what’s happening in our homes, first, because that’s the bigger threat to us right now. Police need a strong dose of common sense injected into their mindset.

Right now public confidence in our police attitude toward domestic violence victims is zero with a strong element of disgust added. We need a formal inquiry to identify then weed out those people in the police service who have so failed the very people they have sworn to protect.

This is the conversation we need to have.

Where to go for help if you are in a situation of domestic violence

If you or someone you know needs help in relation to domestic violence, contact the 24 Hour State Domestic Violence Helpline 1800 811 811 or DV Connect

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