This is article two in a series of articles dealing with the July 2022 report of the Women’s Safety and Justice Taskforce headed by the Honourable Margaret McMurdo AC.  This article will look at the major recommendations of the Report.


There were 188 recommendations many of which related to improving investigative procedures concerning sexual assault, and related matters.


The main recommendations are as follows:


  • That the Queensland Government establish a Victims’ Commissioner as an independent statutory office to promote and protect the needs of victims of all violent offences. The Commissioner will have a specific and dedicated focus on victims of domestic and family and sexual violence. (Recommendation 18)


  • That the Queensland Police Service (QPS) review and update Operational Policies and Procedures about the investigation of sexual violence cases. This will include reviewing policies and procedures relating to the use of pretext phone calls and questioning victim-survivors including about their intoxication at the time of the offence and matters that may be relevant to the excuse of mistake of fact.  (Recommendation 30)


  • That the Queensland Police Service ensure that only specialist trained officers interview victim-survivors in sexual offences when a victim agrees to a recording being used as their evidence in chief in a criminal proceeding. (Recommendation 31)


  • That the Attorney-General amend Section 348 of the Criminal Code (Meaning of Consent) and 348A (mistake of fact) in relation to consent to provide that consent must be freely and voluntarily agreed rather than ‘given’ and that no regard must be had to the voluntary intoxication of an accused person when considering whether they had a mistaken belief about consent to sexual activity. (Recommendation 43)


  • That an independent Sexual Violence Case Review Board be established and chaired by the proposed Victims’ Commissioner and that the Board will consist of representatives from the DPP, QPS, professionals with sexual violence experience, people with lived experience of sexual violence and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and that the Board will review reports prepared by the QPS and the DPP about the respective agencies’ involvement in sexual offence cases and make recommendations to the Queensland Government about practice, policy, performance and systemic improvement. (Recommendation 46)


  • That the DPP review guidelines dealing with downloading information from a mobile phone or other device of a victim of sexual violence and the disclosure of relevant information in accordance with legislative obligations and the process for Defence lawyers to obtain additional information they consider to be relevant. (Recommendation 47)


  • That the QPS liaise with relevant technology companies to explore the feasibility of establishing a mechanism to enable the partial download of information from mobile phones and other devices of victim-survivors to enable only relevant information to be obtained and to protect and promote a victim-survivors right to privacy. (Recommendation 47 and 48)


  • That there be amendments to the Evidence Act to provide that the evidence of a victim or special witnesses in sexual proceedings be video and audio recorded for use in any retrial.


  • That the Attorney-General introduce the use of “ground rules hearings” for domestic and family violence and sexual offences. (Recommendation 57)


  • That the Queensland Intermediary Scheme pilot program consider whether the scheme should be expanded to apply to proceedings involving adult victims of sexual violence. (Recommendation 62)


  • That there be a Specialist Accreditation Scheme in relation to sexual violence cases and issues related to women and girls as accused persons and offenders in the criminal justice system. (Recommendation 68)


  • That there be a specialist list for sexual violence cases in the District Court. (Recommendation 69)


  • That the DPP design and implement a new operating model for the prosecution of sexual violence cases. (Recommendation 74)


  • That the law relating to similar fact (coincidence) and propensity (tendency) evidence in relation to all offences of a sexual nature be changed by adopting relevant Sections of the Evidence Act 1995 (NSW). (Recommendation 75)


  • Expand admission of preliminary complaint evidence under the Criminal Law (Sexual Offences) Act to all domestic violence offences and that there be expanded use of preliminary complaint evidence generally including in sexual offence prosecutions. (Recommendation 76)


  • That there be revised jury directions to be given that address misconceptions about sexual violence. (Recommendation 77)


  • That the Evidence Act be amended to allow for the admission of expert evidence about the nature and effects of domestic and family violence and sexual violence. (Recommendation 79)


  • That the Department of Justice establish an expert evidence panel for sexual offence proceedings that can be used by the Prosecution, Defence and the Court. (Recommendation 80)


  • Remove the restriction on publication of the identity of an adult accused of a sexual offence before a committal hearing where it would not identify or tend to identify a victim-survivor. (Recommendation 83)


  • That a sustainable long term plan be developed for the expansion of adult restorative justice in Queensland for victim survivors to access. (Recommendation 90)


  • Repeal the offence of begging in a public place and being intoxicated in a public place. (Recommendation 101)


  • The Minister of Police be required to maintain a register to be regularly published about the number of adults and children held in police Watchhouses, the length of stays and compliance with minimum standards of care for people detained in police Watchhouses. (Recommendation 107)


  • That a police officer or a court considering bail have regard to the probable effect that a refusal of bail will have on a person’s family or dependants and to consider a person’s obligations to family responsibilities when making bail conditions. (Recommendation 110)


  • That the Chief Magistrate pilot a women’s list within the Court Link program operating within the Magistrates Court. (Recommendation 124)


  • That the Penalties & Sentences Act be amended to require the court to consider the hardship that any sentence would impose on the offender including requiring the court to consider the probable effect that any sentence would have on the person’s family or dependants and whether or not circumstances are ‘exceptional’. (Recommendation 106)


  • That the Queensland Government implement the recommendations of the Sentencing Advisory Council’s Community based sentencing orders, imprisonment and parole options report to support women being sentenced to community based orders rather than short periods of imprisonment. (Recommendation 127)


  • To provide that any person in participating in a program or a service while on remand in custody and anything said or done while participating in a program or engaging in a service cannot be used in evidence in any criminal, civil or administrative proceedings relating to the offence for which the detainee has been charged. (Recommendation 149)


  • That there be whole of criminal justice system oversight in strategic leadership including in relation to advising on evidence based whole of Government and whole of system solutions to reduce the rate of offending and re-offending in the rate of imprisonment. (Recommendation 179)


  • That the Queensland Government establish a Victims’ Commissioner. (Recommendation 181)



All of the above recommendations selected from the total of 188 recommendations will be considered in future articles.