Latest News

Queensland Establishes New Taskforce to Consult on Coercive Control Laws

Queensland plans on becoming the second state in Australia to criminalise the dangerous form of domestic abuse.
hannah clarke
Hannah Clarke and her son

Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk has today announced that the Queensland Government will establish a new independent taskforce to consult on legislation to criminalise coercive control.

Coercive control refers to the insidious form of emotional abuse that can include controlling a person’s access to money, what they wear, who they talk to and tracking where they go.

The abusive behaviour came to national attention when Hannah Clarke and her three children, Aaliyah, 6, Laianah, 4, and Trey, 3, were horrifically murdered by Rowan Baxter in Brisbane’s South.

Friday will mark one year since Clarke and her children were ambushed on their drive to school, doused in petrol and set alight by Baxter, who was due to appear in the family court on domestic abuse charges at the time.

Clarke’s family have led the campaign to criminalise coercive control in the 12 months since their daughter’s life was taken.

Sue Clarke, mum of Hannah Clarke (Credit: Image: Grace Smith)

The Queensland Government has committed to criminalising coercive control within the current term of government, and the new taskforce will consult with survivors, domestic violence experts, lawyers and the general community on factors to consider in designing the legislation.

The person to head the taskforce will be announced later today.

“We’ve seen legislation against coercive control in places like the UK, and it’s important that we too have legislation in place to better protect victims,” Palaszczuk said in her announcement.

England and Wales were the first in the world to criminalise “controlling or coercive behaviour” in an intimate or family relationship, in 2015.

Scotland followed suit in 2018 with an approach now considered the “gold standard” in protecting women and children from coercive control. Their bill was drafted in consultation with women’s organisations, and victim-survivors of domestic violence.

Presently, Tasmania is the only Australian state to have legislated against some elements of the behaviour, with similar plans to criminalise in New South Wales, Victoria, South Australia and the Northern Territory.

In October last year, AreMedia launched the Criminalise Coercive Control Campaign in collaboration with Women’s Safety NSW, White Ribbon Australia, Small Steps 4 Hannah, Queensland Women’s Legal Service, Women’s Community Shelters and Doctor’s Against Violence Towards Women. The campaign called for coercive control to be criminalised by July 2021 as well as a consultation period with frontline domestic violence workers and survivors to help shape the new law and the guarantee of necessary resources and reform framework to ensure the judiciary and police are equipped and trained to effectively enforce the law as intended.

Related stories