Commissioner podcast: the critical role of QCS officers in DFV prevention
May 1 marks the start of Domestic and Family Violence Prevention Month in Queensland.
Domestic and family violence is obviously a significant issue that we deal with on a range of levels at Queensland Corrective Services.
There’s a clear nexus between domestic and family violence and the critical work that Queensland Corrective Services does.
The horrors of domestic and family violence are very clearly brought home to me in my previous role for nearly 40 years as a career police officer and more recently, my work as the Commissioner, Queensland Corrective Services and as a panel member on the Domestic and Family Violence Death Review Board chaired by the State Coroner.
I often think about the harms caused to the community around this really important societal issue, and linked to that is, of course, the sad and breaking news about a very serious alleged crime north of Brisbane today that is alleged to have had a domestic and family violence related nexus. So this is a very real and present issue in our society.
Holding prisoners and offenders accountable for their behaviour is key to QCS’ efforts and in fact it’s a primary reason for our existence.
We understand that in our support of women, prisoners and offenders, many are victims of domestic and family violence and therefore it’s important for us to take a trauma informed approach to their support and ultimately rehabilitation.
We also have a key role in working with victims through the victim’s register, and this is critical to supporting those who are subject to crime and violence, particularly domestic and family violence.
Acknowledging victims through participation and support of organisations like Red Rose Foundation and events like the Red Rose Rally and the candlelight vigil and other events is really important.
The COVID-19 era makes that particularly challenging, but our support is there, and it’s strong nonetheless.
On the subject of COVID-19, it’s also relevant to consider the challenge that’s presented for victims, and the potential increase in offending that this time might very well cause, particularly offending in the home setting.
Importantly, QCS are partnering with key agencies such as The Red Rose Foundation and one practical way we’re doing that is in the support and facilitation off male prisoners at Wolston, such as the building of the red benches for instalment in women’s prisons and across the community. They will eventually be rolled out, COVID-19 is impacting that though at the present time.
And this is an important whole of community initiative to bring the important issues of domestic and family violence to bear and at the forefront of the community.
QCS as the fifth largest government department is a significant employer. With nearly 5,500 employees, it’s important to recognise the impact that domestic of family violence has on our personnel and to support our workforce who might be victims of such violence.
And the state government generally, and QCS specifically supports special leave provisions for victims and other practical support is available through the department.
Domestic and family violence is never acceptable, and we need to state that really clearly, and it needs to be surfaced and it needs to be eradicated. Victims need to be supported, and offenders called out for their abhorrent behaviour.
The harm that it does the victims and children, particularly, is immeasurable. It’s important for victims of domestic and family violence to know that they’re not alone and that they’re supported.
I strongly endorse the work of agencies such as DV Connect and the Red Rose Foundation. And my hope is that all of us focused on this important issue can create a better, safer future and one free from domestic and family violence.