The Queensland Sentencing Advisory Council will be embarking on a review of aspects of sentencing for sexual and domestic violence offences following a request for advice by the former Attorney-General and Minister for Justice, Minister for Women and Minister for the Prevention of Domestic and Family Violence, the Honourable Shannon Fentiman,
The Council will consider whether current sentencing practices for sexual assault and rape adequately reflect the seriousness of this offending, and if legislative or other changes are required to ensure appropriate sentences are imposed.
The Council will also explore the impact of the legislated aggravating factor for domestic violence offences on sentences, and whether it is affecting victims’ satisfaction with the sentencing process.
In addition, the Council will consider how the increase in maximum penalties for contravening a domestic violence order may have affected sentencing trends and outcomes since these changes came into effect in 2015.
Council Chair John Robertson said the Council welcomed the opportunity to lend its expertise to build on the work done by the Women’s Safety and Justice Taskforce and the Special Taskforce on Domestic and Family Violence.
‘Fair and just sentencing plays a significant role in building community and victim-survivor confidence in the criminal justice system,’ Mr Robertson said.
‘The Council recognises how important this review is and will use an evidence-based approach to inform any recommendations. We will be carrying out extensive research and consultation, including speaking directly to victim-survivors, legal professionals and other members of the community.’
The Council is calling for preliminary feedback to assist in identifying key issues to be explored during the first stage of the reference.
Feedback should be emailed to firstname.lastname@example.org by Monday, 26 June 2023.
The Council will deliver its final report and recommendations on sentencing for sexual violence offences to the Attorney-General by 16 September 2024.
The Council’s final report on sentencing for domestic violence offences is due to be submitted to the Attorney-General by 30 September 2025.
The full Terms of Reference outlining the matters the Council has been asked to consider is available on the Council’s website along with relevant Council publications.
- The 2015 Not Now, Not Ever report of the Special Taskforce on Domestic and Family Violence, recommended introducing a circumstance of aggravation of domestic and family violence to be applied to all criminal offences. In response, the law was changed to introduce domestic violence as an aggravating factor in May 2016. The court can decide not to treat the fact the offence was a domestic violence offence as aggravating if the court considers it is not reasonable because of the exceptional circumstances of the case (for example, if the victim of the offence has previously committed an act of serious domestic violence, or several acts of domestic violence, against the offender).
- The Women’s Safety and Justice Taskforce in its 2021 report, Hear her Voice – Report 1, released in December 2021, made 89 recommendations, including that the Attorney-General and Minister for Justice, Minister for Women and Minister for the Prevention of Domestic and Family Violence ask the Queensland Sentencing Advisory Council to give advice on the impact of the operation of the aggravating factor on sentencing outcomes for domestic violence related offences – building on the work already done by the Council in an earlier research brief in May 2021 (recommendation 73). This recommendation was accepted by the Queensland Government and will form part of the Council’s examination under the current Terms of Reference.
- The Women’s Safety and Justice Taskforce, in its July 2022 report Hear her Voice – Report 2 on women and girls’ experiences of the criminal justice system called for sweeping reforms across criminal justice, policing and correctional systems to better support women who are victim-survivors of sexual assault.
Contact: Hayley Carter/Steph Martlew