Hannah Clarke’s parents have backed the Queensland Police Union’s call for the state government to “fully fund” a landmark trial of two specialist domestic violence police stations in Queensland in the wake of the inquest into their daughter’s death.
- The specialist DV stations were recommended by two high-profile inquiries this week
- The union is also calling for further DV training for police officers
- The government is currently considering the recommendation
Deputy State Coroner Jane Bentley handed down her findings into the murder of Ms Clarke and her three children – Aaliyah, Laianah and Trey – on Wednesday and made four recommendations requiring “immediate attention” to prevent similar deaths.
She recommended the Queensland government trial a specialist victim-centric domestic violence police station for 12 months in the Logan or Kirwan police districts, which have the highest numbers of DV incidents.
Union president Ian Leavers, who gave evidence at the Clarke inquest, said the Queensland government must fund both specialist domestic violence police stations as a “matter of urgency”.
Sue Clarke, Hannah’s mother, said she agreed domestic-violence-focused police stations were urgently required.
“Lloyd and I are in agreement with Ian Leavers,” she said.
“We would love to see this happen.”
Ms Bentley made the same recommendation earlier this week, when handing down the findings from the inquest into the murder of Doreen Langham by her ex-partner in Logan last year.
The proposed station would include:
- Specialist domestic violence police officers, including a detective to investigate criminal offenses
- A specialist domestic violence support worker
- A child safety officer from the Department of Child Safety to access the risk of harm to children of families affected by domestic violence
- A Queensland Health worker to access mental health, drug and alcohol issues and the wellbeing of children
- A lawyer to provide legal advice to police and victims
‘We can not afford to wait’
Mr Leavers said the police wanted rapid reform.
“The two trials in Logan … Kirwan were ideas I was able to put forward whilst giving evidence… I welcome this and it can not come soon enough,” he said.
“Otherwise, police are set up to fail.
“We want reform and we want changes to occur.
“When it comes to saving lives and protecting women who are victims of domestic violence, we need to ensure that the appropriate funding is given as a matter of urgency.”
Mr Leavers said the stations would cost an estimated $ 20 million and additional state funding was needed.
“We need extra resourcing” Mr Leavers said.
“What we do not want to see is that the recommendations… come out of the existing police budget which is already committed and stripping away police who are over-stretched in Queensland.
“We can not afford to wait for six-to-eight weeks while they discuss where the funding will come from, or whether or not they can find the money.
“I say to the Premier – fund this lock, stock and barrel.
Mr Leavers said it was also “vitally important” police officers receive better training to handle cases of domestic violence.
“With an organization of 12,500 police, that is simply unacceptable and it needs to change.”
State government ‘considering’ recommendations
In a statement, Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk said she “commits” to funding specialist domestic violence police stations.
“Of course I will,” the Premier said.
“$ 363 million has already been dedicated to fund initiatives recommended by the Women’s Safety and Justice Taskforce.
“That includes co-responder models, perpetrator interventions and training.”
Queensland Attorney-General Shannon Fentiman said the state government will carefully consider the recommendations.
“Absolutely, we are considering all of the coroner’s recommendations and… [we will] provide a government response, “Ms Fentiman said.
“There is a lot of work now underway.”
In her findings, Ms Bentley also recommended a five-day face-to-face training program for specialist DV police, a mandatory DV module for all officers as part of their annual skills training and funding for men’s behavior change programs.
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