Queensland provides “an absolute green light” to perpetrators of sexual violence, women’s and survivors’ support groups say, as they call for urgent reform to a system they say is governed by murky consent laws, untrained police and inadequate support services.
The call follows a Guardian Australia report on Thursday which revealed police had shredded the rape statement of a woman known as Lyla – having not previously spoken to her or investigated her claim – then later told her they couldn’t “wave a magic wand and fix all of your problems”.
In the age of #MeToo, Queensland is going backwards. Crime statistics show reports of sexual assault increasing.
“There are issues about never getting phone calls back, issues of having to relay highly sensitive details of trauma at the front desk of a police station.
“Even having male police officers conducting the interviews is really troubling.”
Fears that women still face “Russian roulette” when they report family violence because some police might not take them seriously have merit, the head of Domestic Violence Victoria says.
“All our friends think you call the police when you’re in danger and they help you. We know that’s not how it works,” they said.
“It’s like Russian roulette, sometimes you get someone who will help. Sometimes, like Mum, you get someone who doesn’t take you seriously.
Defendants are “gaming the system” in specialist domestic violence courts by intimidating partners into not appearing in the expectation that magistrates will drop charges, a critical report has said.
The report, commissioned by the police and crime commissioner for Northumbria, Dame Vera Baird QC, was based on the monitoring more than 220 cases in the north-east of England. It suggests those in which the complainant does not appear are dismissed too readily and that criminal justice services are under-resourced.
The defendants, almost all men, continued to exert coercive control over their victims through the mechanism of the courts system, the study says. Too few independent domestic violence advisers (IDVAs) were seen at court and irrelevant mitigation pleas such as the perpetrator being drunk were regularly offered, it notes.