GPS trackers for Qld's most despicable DV monsters


GPS trackers for high-risk domestic violence offenders have not been ruled out by the State Government, with a study finding they can reduce reoffending and help keep victims safe.

Attorney-General Shannon Fentiman said the idea of electronically monitoring DV offenders was still on the table, as The Courier-Mail campaigns for five key areas of change.

Domestic violence advocates and victims have renewed calls for the criminalisation of coercive control, the eradication of the defence of provocation in murder trials, the ability for women to access the criminal history of a new partner and more education for school kids about the signs of unhealthy relationships.

The campaign coincides with the anniversary of the murders of Hannah Clarke and her children, Aaliyah, 6, Laianah, 4 and Trey, 3, who were doused with petrol and set on fire by her estranged husband on February 19, 2020.

Last week, Ms Fentiman announced she would establish a task force to investigate the implementation of coercive control laws.

Rowan Baxter murdered his family after ambushing Hannah while she did the morning school run. After setting them on fire, he killed himself.

Hannah Clarke and her children Aaliyah, Laianah and Trey were murdered by her estranged husband.
Hannah Clarke and her children Aaliyah, Laianah and Trey were murdered by her estranged husband.

Hannah stayed conscious long enough to tell police what Baxter had done.

Australia's National Research Organisation for Women's Safety conducted a study into GPS trackers for domestic violence offenders in 2018 following a recommendation in the Not Now, Not Ever report.

It found they could prove helpful, provided they were one of various measures put in place to keep women safe.

"Defendants/offenders reportedly benefit from the structure association with exclusion/inclusion zones, curfews and programs … accompanying (electronic monitoring)," the report said.

"Harms associated with domestic and family violence, including femicide and filicide, are preventable and (electronic monitoring) can contribute to reducing reoffending and enhancing safety for victims/survivors."

The study also found current technology may not provide a victim with the immediate help they might need.

"The technology itself has limitations in regard to effectiveness and accuracy," the report said.

"For example, technology may not work in particular locations due to availability of GPS satellite connections or interference. Due to the potential lethality of domestic and family violence, continuity of monitoring is critical and sufficient time to act in the event of a breach is critical."

Ms Fentiman said the study had shown "GPS trackers in certain circumstances" could be helpful.

"They say it does need to be supported by a whole lot of safeguards and other wraparound services," she said.

"It's not an easy fix, because women will often feel very safe and not take other precautions if they know their perpetrator has a GPS tracker.

"So it has to be rolled out very, very carefully. We are still looking at it as an option. I'm pleased they're still looking at it. But it needs to be supported by other safeguards."

Domestic and Family Violence Prevention Council co-chair Kay McGrath OAM said while she welcomed any initiatives that kept victims safe, the options needed to be thoroughly investigated.

"Technology is changing and evolving almost daily and it's difficult to embrace this on a large scale due to economic restraints," she said.

"GPS monitoring can be used in the bail and parole contexts, and some DFV offenders have been subject to this.

"The Government is also continuing to monitor the potential as the technology advances."

Originally published as Is this the silver bullet in domestic violence crisis?

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