Don’t use domestic violence policy to try to buy votes
- November 15, 2017
- Jennifer Hetherington
- No comments
Domestic violence is a serious issue in Queensland.
Just this week a woman on the Gold Coast was murdered in what appears to be another domestic violence homicide.
Queensland’s Liberal National Party ( LNP) has released a policy on domestic violence which as Lawyers Weekly reported today, I regard as an appalling idea.
Queensland goes to the polls on 25 November and the LNP, the state’s chief Opposition party, has unveiled a policy which includes “naming and shaming” offenders.
As a family lawyer and mediator, I encounter victims and survivors of domestic violence in my work. I believe the policy is highly risky and unworkable and seems to have been created to catch votes rather than solve the domestic and family violence crisis.
The LNP’s domestic violence policy includes a proposal that was extensively examined by the Queensland Law Reform Commission
The LNP’s controversial policy flies in the face of the state’s Law Reform Commission which examined whether a Domestic Violence Disclosure Scheme (DVDS) should be introduced in Queensland but concluded in its report after consultation with services supporting victims that it would potentially do more harm than good.
The LNP is ignoring this recommendation and pushing its agenda through a five point plan which would allow people to search register about the domestic violence or child sex crime history of any potential new partners.
The LNP domestic violence policy goes even further than the proposal put to the Law Reform Commission
Not only does the LNP policy ignore the significant work put into the Law Reform Commission’s consultation process and report, they are proposing to go even further than a DVDS and allow a search of a register.
All the existing DVDS in other jurisdictions have tight controls around release of the information. Having a publicly searchable register is just a recipe for disaster.
The Queensland Law Reform Commission has noted a “lack of evidence” about the effectiveness about whether such a scheme would reduce violence, protect victims or improve abuser accountability.
What policies can best help victims and survivors of domestic violence?
I endorse the Commission’s wish for funding to instead be better directed to front line services and think the DVDS’s usefulness could be limited as domestic violence is often under-reported, and it could lead to a false sense of safety.
There’s no guarantee that knowing about a partner’s criminal or domestic violence history under the DVDS will automatically increase the other partner’s safety. Properly funded specialist support services are a better use of the funding but the “name and shame” mindset is obviously aimed at gut-level vote catching.
Domestic violence is such a raw and emotional issue and I know the law reform commission devoted considerable time to consulting stakeholders on the best measures to address it and their report reflects the views of those stakeholders.
Sadly the LNP has ignored this. They need to re-think their policy and quickly.
If you need advice about domestic violence or any family law issue, contact us for expert advice from one of our Brisbane family lawyers