New laws prep Queensland for coercive control offence

Queensland is a step closer to making coercive control a crime after domestic violence laws were passed by state parliament.

Broadening the definition of domestic violence to include patterns of behaviour, not just individual incidents, is a key part of the new reforms passed on Wednesday.

Welcoming the new legislation, Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk said coercive control was at the core of domestic and family violence.

"It is a pattern of deliberate behaviours perpetrated against a person to create a climate of fear, isolation, intimidation and humiliation," she said in a statement, thanking victim survivors and advocacy organisations for their work helping make Queensland women safer.

Attorney-General Shannon Fentiman said the legislation laid the foundation for a new stand-alone criminal offence of coercive control to be introduced later this year.

"We know how dangerous these behaviours can be. As we pass the terrible anniversary of the murder of Hannah Clarke and her three children, I want her family and friends to know that this will be their legacy."

"This is about identifying and responding to the red flags of coercive control earlier before blue police tape surrounds another family home," Ms Fentiman said.

Sue and Lloyd Clarke, whose daughter Hannah and her three children were murdered by her estranged husband in Brisbane in 2020, welcomed the new laws.

"We've fought for this because we know it will make a difference and it will prevent other families from having to go through an experience like ours," they said in a statement.

"We know from experience that the behaviour of perpetrators escalates over time. The Small Steps 4 Hannah Foundation strongly urges people to recognise the red flags in their family members, their friends and even themselves and to seek help."

Under the reforms, outdated unlawful stalking laws will be updated to reflect tactics used by perpetrators, including the digital monitoring and surveillance on mobile phones and tracking devices on cars.

Consistency of domestic and family violence training be stepped up, particularly for police and other first responders, as part of the changes.

"It will seek to ensure workers have a comprehensive understanding of domestic and family violence and coercive control so they can recognise and respond to people affected," the government's response to a committee report on the laws said.

The legislation is the first resulting from recommendations in the Women's Safety and Justice task force report Hear Her Voice.

Other provisions include strengthening consideration given by courts on domestic violence history, and the use of cross-applications for protection orders.

Outdated terms such as carnal knowledge and maintaining a sexual relationship with a child will also be updated.

"Victim survivors such as Grace Tame have argued that the current use of outdated terms diminish the gravity and severity of the unlawful criminal offending involved in the offence," Ms Fentiman told parliament on Tuesday.

The words carnal knowledge will be changed to penile intercourse, while maintaining a sexual relationship with a child will become repeated sexual conduct with a child.