Queensland Law Society

Domestic and Family Violence Best Practice Guidelines

Domestic violence can affect anyone, regardless of age, gender or wealth, where they live or their cultural background.1 

Objective

These best practice guidelines have been developed to assist practitioners in dealing with legal matters that are impacted by domestic and family violence. They have been developed in direct response to recommendation 107 of the Taskforce Report – Not Now Not Ever – Putting an End to Domestic and Family Violence in Queensland. These best practice guidelines aim to be part of the Domestic and Family Violence Prevention Strategy for Queensland.

The extensive research considered by the Special Taskforce on Domestic and Family Violence in Queensland suggests:2

  • Domestic violence is extremely common in the Queensland community. 180 domestic and family violence incidents were reported to the police every day in Queensland during 2013-2014.3
  • Some sections of the community are possibly at even higher risk, such as Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities.4
  • Anyone can be a victim of domestic and family violence but although men are also victims of domestic and family violence, the majority of people who experience domestic and family violence are women, thus making the crime of a gendered nature.5
  • Domestic and family violence is not restricted to physical violence alone but extends to a variety of ways one partner might attempt to control and dominate another partner. These can include injury, threats against the partner, the children, or the pets, forcing the partner to engage in sexual activity, deprivation of liberty, damaging property, attempting to exert emotional control through threats or attempts of self-harm, unauthorised surveillance of the partner including electronic surveillance, withholding access to income or assets, restricting access to religious or cultural activities, verbal abuse and other means of creating an atmosphere of fear and intimidation.6
  • It is extremely important to consider the effects of domestic and family violence on the children in the relationship, as a wide range of negative developmental impacts have been observed, as well as the overall impact on children from seeing one parent mistreat another, and living in a general atmosphere of tension and fear.7

Purpose

These best practice guidelines are provided as a resource to Queensland Law Society members. They do not constitute legal advice and Queensland Law Society recommends practitioners exercise their experience and judgment in applying the guidelines to particular matters at hand. The guidelines are not all-encompassing and are not an exhaustive list of every issue that may arise in relevant matters. Practitioners will need to adapt the guidelines to address individual clients’ circumstances. These guidelines are not a replacement for legal training or engaging qualified legal practitioners or other professionals. These guidelines are designed to identify and draw attention to some key issues which may arise in matters.

Terminology

Victim is used in this document to denote a person who is the alleged victim of domestic and family violence.
Perpetrator
is used in this document to denote a person who is the alleged perpetrator of domestic and family violence.

Principles


1. Not Now, Not Ever Putting an End to Domestic and Family Violence in Queensland Taskforce Report – 2015 (hereinafter referred to as the Taskforce Report).
2. Appendix 8 of the Taskforce Report.

3. Taskforce Report Executive Summary, p. 6; Section 1.1, p. 47; Section 2.4, Section 2.5, p. 78.

4. Taskforce Report Executive Summary, p. 6; Chapter 5.

5. Taskforce Report Executive Summary, p. 7; Section 1.1, p. 49; Section 2.3, pp. 72-73). For example, between September 2013
and September 2014, 15,656 protection orders were taken out where the aggrieved was a woman, whilst 4,486 orders were made where the aggrieved was a male and adult male offenders represented 87% of those who subsequently breached these orders; in the 2013-2014 financial year, 22,393 women contacted DV Connect in search of assistance as victims whilst 831 men contacted DV Connect Mensline in search of assistance as victims (Section 2.3, p. 73). A 2012 survey of 17,050 adult men and women conducted by the Australian Bureau of Statistics found 1 in 6 women and 1 in 19 men had experienced physical or sexual violence from a current or former partner (Section 2.4, p. 74).
6. Taskforce Report Section 2.2, pp. 68-70.
7. Taskforce Report Section 2.5, p. 77, Section 5.7.