Qld DV – all about women victims, men perpetrators

The Queensland Police Commissioner and police union president have rejected a taskforce’s findings that police culture is contributing to the state’s domestic violence crisis.

Jessica MarszalekDanielle Buckley and Domanii Cameron

8 min read

December 2, 2021 – 6:03PM

The Queensland Police Union has rejected as “woke” and “out of touch” findings by a domestic violence taskforce that police culture has obstructed justice for victims and deterred them from coming forward.

And the Queensland Police Commissioner says her officers will be “devastated” by the findings.

The newly released findings from the Women’s Safety and Justice Taskforce, led by former Court of Appeal president Margaret McMurdo, said in many cases police had failed to properly investigate complaints about domestic and family violence and failed to bring criminal charges against perpetrators.

One of the taskforce’s 89 recommendations was the establishment of an independent commission of inquiry to probe police cultural issues.

“The taskforce has great concerns that there are many women experiencing domestic and family violence who won’t even pick up their phone to call the police because they have no confidence in their ability to help,” Ms McMurdo said.

“Police are the gateway to the justice system, and we need to do better.”

In the landmark report, Ms McMurdo wrote that she had expected to hear from women about their mistreatment at the hands of perpetrators.


Taskforce chair Margaret McMurdo

“I did not expect to hear that women perceived their perpetrators are emboldened by police, legal practitioners and judicial officers,” she wrote.

“Many feel the justice system is failing them.

“Despite the legal definition of domestic violence already including emotional and psychological abuse and coercive control, many police, service providers, lawyers and judicial officers are failing to identify coercive control or its devastating impact on victims’ wellbeing and safety.

“Victims are being misidentified as perpetrators of domestic violence.”

Ms McMurdo wrote that many police officers were not responding to complaints, which was putting women’s safety at risk.

“Despite the efforts of government, the QPS leadership and the many dedicated officers who respond effectively to domestic violence, a Queensland woman seeking police help to stay safe from a perpetrator enters a raffle – she may get excellent assistance, or she may be turned away,” she wrote.

(photos removed)

Hannah Clarke’s parents Lloyd and Sue Clarke


Hannah Clarke with son Trey

But Queensland Police Union president Ian Leavers this afternoon rejected the report.

“This is a yet again another woke, out-of-touch report by a retired judge that overreaches where it pertains to police,” he said.

“I am disappointed that our proposal to actually bring domestic violence out of the civil realm and into the criminal code with a new stand-alone offence of ‘commit domestic violence’ was not a recommendation.

“I am pleased to see the Commissioner of Police agrees with the me and the Queensland Police Union and is joining with the QPU in standing up for all the overworked, under-resourced frontline police in utterly rejecting Margaret McMurdo’s suggestion of a commission of inquiry into the Queensland Police Service.

“It is ridiculous to suggest there are widespread cultural issues in the Queensland Police Service where police are dismissive of domestic violence victims. That is just an outrageous statement to make by retired judges who are woefully out of touch.

“I met with Margaret McMurdo and this was never even raised by her. In fact she was complimentary of the work police do.

“It’s disappointing Ms McMurdo hasn’t adopted a single one of our suggestions to fix domestic violence laws.

“It makes no sense at all when police can issue banning notices in nightclubs precincts and charge people with offences by giving them notice to appear and that takes 30 minutes, yet a domestic violence matter to try and do the same because of the convoluted and unworkable laws can take over four hours.


Queensland Police Union president Ian Leavers

“We need to make domestic violence a crime. People like Margaret McMurdo pretend domestic violence is a crime, yet no crime of domestic violence exists.”

Police Commissioner Katarina Carroll also rejected claims there were widespread cultural problems within police ranks, and said an independent inquiry into the police service would be unnecessary.

Ms Carroll said her troops would be “devastated” by the findings.

“It is incredibly disappointing to hear that some members of the community feel let down by our response to domestic and family violence,” she said.

“If we haven’t met the high standards expected of us, that’s unacceptable.

“So we haven’t got it right, I accept that we need to get better at this, but I know that my people who work so hard to get this right and are compassionate and do the right thing will be devastated.

“While I do not fear a commission of inquiry, I cannot support this recommendation.

“What I am purely saying is that I believe a commission of inquiry is not warranted at the organisation because there is an independent body that can already look at it, it’s extraordinarily costly and we are already undertaking most of the recommendations that have been nominated in the report.”

She also rejected the report’s claims of widespread cultural issues.

“What I can accept is though, is that there are subcultures,” she said.

“I can accept that individuals don’t always do the right thing and those people need to be held to account.”

In the past financial year officers have responded to more than 120,000 domestic violence cases – a 13 per cent increase on the previous year.


Queensland Police Commissioner Katarina Carroll addresses the findings today. Picture: Josh Woning

Ms Carroll said that investigating and preventing domestic violence now took up 40 per cent of her officers’ time.

“In some of our shifts….all we do is respond from one domestic violence incident to another,” she said.

Ms Carroll said of the 17 report recommendations suggested for police, 10 of the reforms were already under way.

Tabling the report in Parliament, Attorney-General and Minister for Women and the Prevention of Domestic and Family Violence Shannon Fentiman said the taskforce did note the hard work and leadership of the Queensland Police Service in responding to ever-increasing reports of family and domestic violence.

“The taskforce notes that every day hardworking police officers are saving the lives of women and girls,” she said.

“And in many instances police themselves are experiencing vicarious trauma and compassion fatigue due to the increasingly high rates of reports and case complexity.

“However the taskforce heard in many submissions that women did not get an appropriate response from the police, and there is always more that can be done.”

Ms McMurdo said the taskforce had found that police and the wider justice system were failing to identify victims of domestic and family violence.

“The justice system has not caught up with knowledge and evidence about coercive control,” she said.

“Many police, service providers, lawyers and courts are failing to identify it or its devastating impact on a victim’s wellbeing and safety.”


Minister Shannon Fentiman

Among some of the allegations made in the report were that police misidentified victims often charging women with breaching domestic violence orders that “should never have been made”.

“We received many submissions… that many police were not responding to women’s complaints of domestic violence and breaches of orders and that this was putting their safety at risk,” Ms McMurdo said.

Police Commissioner Katarina Carroll will address the media on Thursday afternoon to respond to some of the allegations in the report.

Meanwhile, the taskforce found coercive control should be criminalised, but must be done in a staged approach.

It recommended laws be introduced by 2023, with the first stage of legislative reform to begin next year.

Classification of the offence should be modelled on Scotland’s.

Repeat perpetrators of coercive control and other domestic violence offences should be listed on a non-public disclosable register which would need to be established through new legislation.

Sweeping educational campaigns are required not just for the community but for police and the criminal justice system, while the government should amend the curriculum so that it provides “consistent, high-quality respectful relationships education”.

This needs to address the causes of domestic, family and sexual violence and coercive control.

Court infrastructure should be upgraded to include safe waiting rooms for victims, protected witness rooms and safe entry and exit routes.

Watching on from the public gallery as the report was tabled were Sue and Lloyd Clarke, Queensland Australians of the Year for their work advocating family violence issues following the murder of their daughter Hannah Clarke and their grandchildren.

“The report recommends criminalising coercive control,” Ms Fentiman said.

“However the report is also clear that we cannot criminalise this behaviour until our systems, our community, and our first responders understand, identify and know how to respond to this form of abuse.

“This is a complex issue.”

Domestic violence helplines

  • Womensline: 1800 811 811
  • MensLine Australia: 1300 789 978
  • National Sexual Assault, Domestic Violence Counselling Service 24hr helpline: 1800 RESPECT
  • Lifeline: 13 1144
  • Family Violence Crisis and Support Service: 1800 608 122
  • Emergency/Police: 000 

She said the report did recommend immediate legislative changes, including modernising the state’s stalking laws to capture the use of technology.

It recommended an amendment to the Domestic Violence Protection Act to clarify definitions and reduce the incidence of perpetrators using cross applications – filing a domestic violence complaint of their own – to continue to inflict violence and coercion on victims.

And it recommended improvements to police and the courts in responding to domestic and family violence to create a more “trauma-informed system”.

The taskforce recommended that an independent commission of inquiry be established to examine widespread cultural issues within the Queensland Police Service.

It was also recommended that an independent statutory judicial commission be set up to respond to complaints made about judicial officers and provide professional development.

“These are fundamental systemic and structural issues in Queensland’s criminal justice system that are eroding public confidence in the delivery of justice in Queensland,’ Ms McMurdo said.

The taskforce has proposed that perpetrators face a maximum of 14 years’ jail.

It made three key recommendations, including that there be a lengthy period before the law comes into effect to ensure police, the criminal justice system, the community and service sector were educated and prepared.

The taskforce also believes the laws should be reviewed after five years to ensure they are operating as intended, and that the government work with First Nations people to create a strategy that would meet the closing the gap justice targets.

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Another of the taskforce’s recommendations was to look at the impact on the overrepresentation of First Nations people in the justice system.

Many victims told the inquiry they did not want the perpetrators to go to jail – rather they wanted the violence to stop.

The taskforce has in turn recommended a diversionary scheme be established for first-time offenders, while the government should expand its network of programs for perpetrators.

Ms Clarke thanks Justice McMurdo for her work on the taskforce.

“We feel that the taskforce has listened to the women, the women have a voice now, they feel validated, and things are going to start to happen,” she said.

“And it’s not going to happen overnight, it will take time but I think the government’s going to get it right.”

She said she was “very touched” when the report was tabled following the couple’s journey in raising the profile of coercive control.

Mr Clarke said he felt that the community had learned a lot about coercive control in the past 18 months.

“We knew something was wrong, we didn’t know it had a name,” he said of his family’s experience with Hannah.

“There’s never any warning signs to start with and it took three, four years for us to see how he was spiralling out of control and you just don’t see it at the start.”



Posted in Domestic Violence, Government Inquiries, Hot Topics, Men as DV victims, War on Men | Leave a comment

A McIntosh Mea Gulpa?



A McIntosh Mea Gulpa?


National Parents Organization


May 22, 2014.


By Robert Franklin


Having spent the last three + years either espousing limited overnights for “non-resident” parents, i.e. fathers in the overwhelming majority of cases, or refusing to contradict those who used her research to support same, Jennifer McIntosh has now spent the last couple of months, furiously trying to distance herself both from her own statements and those made by others in response to her work. That’s all come about because her 2010 study and her subsequent work for the Association of Family and Conciliatory Courts has been buried under an avalanche of recent data and analyses of past research that thoroughly debunks her work.


That all puts McIntosh in an uncomfortable position. She’s an academic and relies on her reputation for professional respect and grants for future research. Given that her work on overnights for young children has been revealed as shoddily done and misleading, McIntosh finds herself in a pickle. If you’re Jennifer McIntosh, what do you do? It seems she’s taking a two-pronged approach to salvaging some vestige of her professional reputation. The first is indignant denial that she’s ever claimed anything other than that frequent overnights should be avoided. That may work with the public at large, but, as I said in my last piece, her steadfast refusal to correct an ever-expanding record of her work being used to deny fathers both overnights with young children and shared parenting at all, tells a different story. That refusal, plus the fact that seemingly everyone who interviewed her and everyone who read her work seems to have gotten the same message, a message McIntosh now wants us to believe she never sent, makes her current denials less than persuasive.


That brings us to the second prong of her effort to defend herself against the attacks of more reliable scientists. She and two other researchers, Marsha Kline Pruett and Joan Kelly, have come out with two companion papers published in the Family Court Review. Part I is the authors’ effort to give their own version of the current state of the science on overnights for young children and Part II is an attempt to provide courts and parents practical guidance on whether and how many overnights “non-resident” parents should have with their kids.


Do we find a chastened McIntosh in these latest efforts? Is this her mea culpa to both the scientific and legal worlds? Part I of her work with Pruett and Kelly might lead us to believe so. Part II? That’s another matter.


In Part I, the three authors present a view of fathers that’s much more in keeping with what so many have learned over the past fifty years or so.


“Attachment refers to a specific facet of the infant/parent relationship. Attachment is a biologically based behavioral system in all infants of all cultures that has the set goal of ensuring protection from disorganizing anxiety through proximity to attuned and responsive caregivers, who soothe in the face of distress and support exploration in the world. Attachment relationships are understood to support the infant’s growing ability to express and regulate emotions (see Siegel & McIntosh 2011 for overview), as well as to explore and learn with confidence (Gunnar, 2000; Sroufe, Egeland, Carlson & Collins, 2005). Studies in multiple contexts have demonstrated the developmental reach of attachment trauma (Sagi-Schwartz & Avierzer, 2005; Zeanah, Danis, Hirshberg et al., 1999), as well as the power of healthy attachments to buffer trauma (Sroufe, et al., 2005)…


Research on infant-father and other significant attachments confirm Ainsworth’s early observation (1977) that infants are equipped to form concurrent attachments to emotionally available caregivers by approximately 7–8 months (Easterbrooks & Goldberg, 1987; Lamb, 1977 a, b). There is agreement across multiple studies that infants prefer proximity to one parent or the other at different ages and for different needs and experiences, particularly in their first 18 months (Fox, Kimmerly, & Shafer, 1991; van IJzendoorn & De Wolff, 1997). Attachment status to mother and father are generally independent, with each relationship influenced by the contingent response of each parent. While security with one parent does not reliably predict security with the other, attachments to co-habiting parents are mutually influenced (Main et al., 2011; Kochanska & Kim, 2013; Sroufe, 1985; van IJzendoorn & De Wolff, 1997). 


Meta-analytic studies of infant attachments to both parents in non-clinical samples found a similar proportion of infants (67%) classified with secure attachments to father or to mother (van IJzendoorn& De Wolff, 1997; Kochanska and Kim, 2013). In a demographically varied sample of 101 families, Kochanska & Kim (2012) reported that 45% of infants had secure attachments concurrently to both their mothers and fathers, while 17% were insecurely attached to both…


As first articulated by Bowlby, normative differences between mother and father care-giving behaviors have long been noted across cultures. Mothers’ sensitive response to infants’ stress states and fathers’ sensitive and stimulating play and teaching behaviors are particularly salient (Ainsworth, 1967; Brown et al., 2012; Grossmann et al., 2002; van IJzendoorn & DeWolff, 1997). Each pattern of interaction can foster secure attachment. Theory posits and research provides evidence that a mother’s sensitive response to stress enables the child to experience that the world is predictable, safe, and that the child can learn to manage his/her distress through the relationship. Similarly, a father’s sensitive challenging facilitates the child’s learning to monitor and control his/her excitement, promoting the goal of self-regulation…


The idea that babies have gender biases in attachment formation is not well supported. The more accurate assertion is that babies respond best to sensitive and predictable care giving that facilitates internalized patterns of care; that is, babies learn to respond across situations as if they can expect such quality of care.”

This is the person who, in her earlier work, simply assumed the primacy of mother-child relationships? This is the researcher who, for years, allowed her work to be interpreted to marginalize fathers in the lives of their children? This is the speaker who left the impression everywhere she went that fathers having overnights with their young children is to be avoided?


But McIntosh, et al aren’t done yet. They move beyond attachment theory to the science on parental involvement with children and the deleterious effects of fatherlessness.


“The attachment literature added support to the father involvement literature on this very point. Researchers from both theoretical leanings established through their studies what children have always demonstrated clinically: the early years matter and young children desire and benefit from warm and positive involvement with both of the people who gave birth to and are invested in their well-being.”



The authors move on to identifying various factors, including maternal gatekeeping and the divorce industry as critical components affecting fathers’ opportunities to maintain contact with their children.

Lest anyone misunderstand the context in which all this arises, Pruett, McIntosh and Kelly make it clear that what’s at issue is family law and court practices. What they call the “Heart of the Debate,” is “Parenting Time Distribution after Separation.” In other words, this is not some abstract theory; the science they cite, the opinions they express are part and parcel of hotly-contested real-world decisions by judges and others about whether children get to have a relationship with both parents post-divorce or separation, and if so, how much time with each. The authors intend to influence public policy. Let no one in the future pretend they don’t.


Given that, the authors go off the rails here:


“Current general population statistics in the United States and Australia indicate that in separated families, between 93–97% of children aged 0–3 years spend less than 35% of their nights with the non-resident parent (Kaspiew et al., 2009; McIntosh, Smyth, Kelaher, 2010; Tornello, Emery, Rowen, Potter, Ocker & Xu, 2013). These data appear to reflect normative sociological differences in parenting roles during infancy. While active parenting by fathers is increasing in intact families, across many western countries (Casper & Bianchi, 2001; Pleck & Masciadrelli, 2004) the majority of hands-on care-giving during infancy is still undertaken by mothers (Baxter, Gray & Hayes, 2010). “


The claim that the almost 100% of separated or divorced parents consigning Dad to less than 35% parenting time in some way “reflect(s) normative sociological differences in parenting roles” appears to be simply false. After all, a casual glance at the parenting time of fathers and mothers in intact and non-intact families indicates a far different norm. For example, Dr. Edward Kruk reports in his fine book, The Equal Parent Presumption, that the most recent data from Stats Canada and Health Canada indicate fathers doing between 40% and 48% of the direct parenting of children. Further, “these data are consistent with the time use data from the United States.” In short, where McIntosh, et al get their idea of normative behavior is anyone’s guess.


The simple fact is that family courts marginalize fathers in the lives of their children. So those separated parents referred to above bear little resemblance to parents in intact relationships in terms of the time they spend with their kids. Face it, it’s one of the main problems with family court parenting time orders; they refuse to recapitulate the actual parenting roles of fathers and mothers established during marriage.


The authors go on to briefly refer to five studies of overnights with children, including McIntosh, et al’s notoriously flawed 2010 study. Just why they ignored the other three is a mystery, but unlike her earlier efforts, this time McIntosh makes no bold claims for what the literature on overnights really demonstrates.


“On many levels, the studies are difficult to summarize, and defy grouping. Each used different samples and different data sources, asked different questions about how outcomes are related to overnight time schedules for infants, and explored different schedules and amounts of overnight time. None of the studies can be said to provide a comprehensive coverage of the relevant developmental issues. The usual research caveats are applicable: data collected at one time point precludes interpretations that suggest cause and effect (this pertains to all of the studies except Tornello), and statistically significant findings may be small enough in absolute terms not to be clinically relevant (see Pruett & DiFonzo, this issue, for an expanded explanation of the latter caveat). Moreover, the studies illustrate the importance of taking into account differences between and within samples of families with widely varying demographic characteristics. Multiple questions remain, such as which infants fare better with more frequent overnight arrangements, and what aspects of development—such as cognitive, language, and psychosocial outcomes—may be enhanced by including overnight care in parenting schedules from an early age as well as later ages. None have covered the range of families seen in family court and those who negotiated parenting plans with lawyers, mediators, or among themselves. This field of knowledge will advance and increasingly differentiate family and parenting circumstances based on the collective evidence of multiple studies that are yet to be conducted.?”


In short, according to these authors, existing literature on the subject of overnights is incomplete. That’s unquestionably true, and we’re glad to know that McIntosh has so thoroughly backtracked on her previous claims and the claims of others she allowed to go unopposed. But what’s strange is that, having concluded that existing studies are insufficient to establish policy on the subject of overnights for very young children, she and her colleagues proceed to do just that in their companion piece.

Posted in Child Abuse, Family Law, Hot Topics, Parental Alienation, Psychologists, Counsellors, Family Report Writers, Social Workers | Leave a comment