Revealing hidden violence

14 Mar 2019

University of Queensland researchers working in criminal justice and domestic violence have influenced key legal reforms designed to better protect Australian women from domestic violence.

A watercolour illustration of a woman.It may seem surprising, but non-fatal strangulation used to be largely invisible to the law.

Despite being a common experience of domestic violence victims and a significant indicator of increased risk of homicide, prior to 2016 there was no discrete offence for non-fatal strangulation in any Australian domestic violence legislation.

But thanks in part to the work of researchers at UQ’s Law School, led by Deputy Dean (Research) Professor Heather Douglas, this particularly dangerous form of violence is now recognised in more than one state – strengthening legal protection for those at risk and helping to keep them safe.

Drawing on the researchers’ detailed analysis that highlighted the risks associated with the offence, and how common it was, the Queensland Parliament introduced a non-fatal strangulation offence into Queensland law in April 2016

Since the release of the UQ team’s research, the New South Wales parliament has also introduced legislation that explicitly criminalises non-fatal strangulation.

Professor Douglas says that since the legislation was passed in Queensland, there have been more than 1000 prosecutions for strangulation, and greater community awareness about the issue.

Read the full story via Research Impact