Auditor zeroes in on programs meant to protect kids from domestic violence

As more and more young Queenslanders are put on supervision orders, a new report identifies the lack of support for children exposed to domestic violence.

Nov 10, 2022, updated Nov 10, 2022
Health Minister Shannon Fentiman. (AAP Image/Jono Searle)

Health Minister Shannon Fentiman. (AAP Image/Jono Searle)

The state was failing to act proactively on the “intergenerational transmission of violence”, and there were few services for children and adolescents, the Queensland Audit Office report said.

Young people exposed to domestic and family violence were more likely to have poor mental and physical health, struggle with school and experience behaviour issues, it noted.

“DFV is also the leading cause of homelessness for young people, and many children who perpetrate DFV have been victims themselves,” it said.

The number of young people beginning supervision in youth detention or the community for DV offences increased by over 57 per cent between 2015–16 and 2020–21.

The report notes that the Education Department’s Respect program is a “small but positive” step, but it’s relied on too heavily and is not monitored for effectiveness.

Rehabilitating perpetrators to minimise the risk of reoffending also needs attention, and the Justice Department has limited knowledge of the programs it funds.

“Few rehabilitation programs and services are available for adult DFV perpetrators in prison and community settings,” the report says.

Queensland Police recorded more than 139,000 DFV occurrences in 2021-22, up nearly 48 per cent in the past six years.

The audit found that QPS are assigning a lower priority response category to more DVF calls, and not responding within target time frames to urgent calls.

“Responders lack training, are missing information or not using it, and are not adequately assessing risk,” the report says.

Among the report’s 21 recommendations are a root cause analysis into delayed response times and identifying why a high proportion of prosecutions for choking, suffocation, or strangulation offences are unsuccessful.

Police should also undergo mandatory annual face-to-face training, and the co-responder model including a wider range of services should be expanded.

The Palaszczuk Government has either agreed or agreed-in-principle to all the recommendations.

“I note that many of the Audit Office’s recommendations overlap with recommendations from the Women’s Safety and Justice Taskforce,” Minister for the Prevention of Domestic and Family Violence Shannon Fentiman said.

“This includes more integrated response, better training, and more information sharing.”

The report notes the state government’s “considerable effort and funds” to improve it’s response, and there are signs of progress.

Police are referring more people for support and applying for more DV orders on behalf of victims.

“QPS is also acting more on breaches of orders and using new laws relating to strangulation offences, although neither QPS nor the Department of Justice and Attorney-General have yet evaluated how effective these are,” it says.

“Some inter-agency coordination is also happening.”

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