Petition | Hold police accountable when they cause harm

Hold police accountable when they cause harm

Everyone affected by domestic, family and sexual violence should be able to get the support they need to be safe.

But too often police responses and systems fail to provide support, and actively cause increased trauma and harm. 

Recent media reports include: Police failing to investigate a report of historic gang-rape of a 14-year-old girl. Police failing to adequately investigate the deaths of four First Nations women. Systemic failures to protect multiple women seeking help before they were murdered. A police officer leaking a woman’s address to a violent former husband. Police regularly misidentifying victims of violence as the perpetrator - particularly First Nations women. Victims reporting that the trauma of interrogation by police as comparable to that of their sexual assault. 

On top of this, dozens of members of the Queensland Police Service were subject to a domestic and family violence order as of the 30th June this year. And a Queensland senior sergeant was found by an internal police investigation to have committed nine sexual assaults of junior female officers.

It’s unacceptable. Police need to be held accountable when they cause harm. That's why we're calling on all governments to deliver independent oversight and accountability for police; and hold them to a high standard of conduct.

The Queensland government is reviewing police responses to domestic and family violence right now - can you help show them the public want them to intervene? 


More information

As Sisters Inside have noted, “for many women, reporting violent crimes does not keep them safe. Police do not prevent violence against women; rather, they become involved after the violence has happened, and then, too often, exacerbate its harmful effects.”

Leading human rights and legal organisations - including Change the Record, National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Legal Services and Human Rights Law Centre - have been calling for independent police oversight bodies for years. Such bodies would not only provide an avenue for review of complaints about police responses to gender-based violence; but also when somebody has died while in police custody; or when there are complaints about racial abuse or excessive force.

If someone does reach out to police for help, they should be able to expect their report will be taken seriously, and that police will actually do something. But right now laws in Australia do not require this.

The current inquiry into Qld Police responses to domestic and family violence has shone a light on problems in Queensland; but these systemic problems are not isolated to just one state. Can you help amplify the call for police oversight and accountability, and higher standards of conduct - in Queensland and nationwide?



‘Unspeakable trauma’: police in Queensland and NSW failed to investigate alleged gang rape of 14-year-old girl, records show, The Guardian, 4 October 2022. 

Police failed to adequately investigate deaths of four Indigenous women, former officer says, The Guardian, 3 July 2022.

Queensland police’s reputation on the line as commissioner returns to domestic violence inquiry, The Guardian, 5 October 2022. 

Police are still misjudging domestic violence and victims are suffering the consequences, ABC News, 31 March 3022. Queensland police misidentify domestic violence victims as attackers, inquiry told, The Guardian, 19 July 2022.

‘Part of me died’: Schoolgirls share horrific sexual assault stories, Yahoo! News, 5 April 2021.

Queensland officers investigated colleagues from same police station over ‘failure of duty’ allegations, The Guardian, 9 August 2022. 

‘Fear of speaking out’: Queensland police officer’s sexual assaults went unreported for years, inquiry told, The Guardian, 5 October 2022.

Joint submission to the Commission of Inquiry into Police Responses to Domestic and Family Violence,  Institute for Collaborative Race Research and Sisters Inside, 13 July 2022. 



I believe everyone affected by domestic, family and sexual violence should be able to get the support they need to build safer futures. 

I’m extremely concerned by reports that police responses and systems are often not only failing to support these outcomes; but often causing increased trauma and harm.

Police need to be held accountable when they cause harm.

I urge governments to deliver an independent oversight and accountability mechanism that is able to investigate complaints about police misconduct and systemic failings; and hold police to a high standard of conduct.


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