Australia needs to treat plots and threats to commit domestic violence in the same manner as acts of terrorism, says Women’s Legal Services Queensland.
The call comes as Senator Pauline Hanson attempted to contextualise the murder of Hannah Clarke and her three children by her estranged husband in suburban Brisbane last week.
“Don’t bastardise all men out there, or women for that matter, because these things happen,” Senator Hanson said, speaking on The Today Show.
However, WLSQ CEO Angela Lynch is calling for an immediate review of how domestic violence is dealt with under the criminal justice system and says DV offences should be treated as terrorism.
Coercive control becoming a criminal offence and improvements to strangulation, stalking and sexual violence offences are also among the changes needed, she said.
The list of changes has been issued after Hannah Clarke and her three children were murdered by her estranged husband in suburban Brisbane last week.
“If he was under a criminal charge he would have been in remand in prison or identified as a high-risk offender, he would have been monitored by police and have a tracker on,” Ms Lynch said.
“A lot of people knew he was dangerous and so it’s about how the system responds to that and before a murder happens, to protect women and children.
“We have to start looking at these fellows as domestic terrorists – and he was extremely dangerous – and implement safety mechanisms before it happens, like with terrorism, than waiting for it to happen.”
Ms Lynch said prominent domestic violence campaigner Rosie Batty has often spoken about domestic violence being treated as domestic terrorism and it’s time for governments to take notice.
She said there should be a review of the criminal code and laws should be specifically framed around acts of domestic violence to meet the needs of the victims.
“It needs to be looked at to see if it makes victims safer, and we need to take steps before these tragedies occur based on domestic violence risk assessment,” Ms Lynch said.
“There also has to be support for victims as they go through the criminal justice …. and that means a domestic violence worker standing beside them and helping them through it … they are less likely to withdraw charges if they have support.”
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