Domestic violence offenders are abusing multiple partners undetected as authorities fail to share information about historic abuse, a damning report reveals.
Domestic violence offenders are abusing multiple partners undetected as authorities fail to share information about historic abuse, a damning report reveals.

Time’s up for serial offenders as DV thugs beat system

Domestic violence offenders who inflict "extreme violence" on multiple partners are slipping through the cracks, a new report has revealed.

It has prompted calls for sweeping changes to information sharing between Queensland Police and domestic violence services, and better training to help frontline workers identify "tactics" used by DV perpetrators and trauma inflicted on their victims.

It comes as 28 domestic and family violence deaths were recorded across the state in the 2019-20 financial year - three more than in the prior period - according to the latest Queensland's Domestic and Family Violence Death Review Board report.

The second annual report found a lack of information sharing between authorities left them unaware some offenders had a history of "extreme violence across multiple relationships".

It noted violence in one relationship was often viewed in isolation, "resulting in inadequate service responses" from authorities.

Brock Wall is serving two life sentences after the death of Fabiana Palhares and her unborn child. File picture
Brock Wall is serving two life sentences after the death of Fabiana Palhares and her unborn child. File picture

The Domestic and Family Violence Death Review Board has now recommended the government improve the use of existing information-sharing laws and promote the ability to share private details of a person with a history of violence with a partner.

In one case authorities repeatedly restarted their risk assessment of one man, despite him violently abusing several previous partners. He was later involved in a domestic violence death.

Last week a Coroner's investigation into the 2015 murder of Fabiana Palhares found authorities failed to identify and act on a series of domestic violence risk factors before she was bludgeoned to death with an axe by the father of her unborn child.

Deputy Coroner Jane Bentley revealed Brock Wall had "revealed to DVConnect Mensline that he was going to harm Ms Palhares but the call taker did not record this information or notify any person or agency of the threat".

It was also revealed three of Wall's former partners had applied for domestic violence protection orders after suffering significant physical violence and verbal abuse.

The Domestic and Family Violence Death Review Board has now recommended the government improve the use of existing information-sharing laws and promote the ability to share private details of a person with a history of violence with a partner.

"Given the clear pattern of repetitive perpetration by a significant proportion of offenders the board questioned whether more could be done to manage high-risk perpetrators of domestic and family violence by ensuring visibility of risk as they move across relationships," the report noted.

"The perpetrator's use of violence in one relationship was often viewed in isolation and non-physical forms of violence were not treated with sufficient seriousness."

The report also recommended training for frontline workers who have contact with victims and offenders be reviewed, with a focus on trauma-awareness and common tactics used by perpetrators.

 

Women's Legal Service CEO Angela Lynch says more must be done to prevent domestic violence. (AAP Image/Mick Tsikas)
Women's Legal Service CEO Angela Lynch says more must be done to prevent domestic violence. (AAP Image/Mick Tsikas)

 

That recommendation comes after a review into the deaths of two men, identified as George and Jack, who were killed by their partners after themselves committing violent offences.

George, an Aboriginal man, was killed by his partner Sarah after a long history of violence towards her including sexual assault and strangulation.

Several days before the homicide George violently raped Sarah and she killed him after he threatened to do so again.

Attorney-General Shannon Fentiman said the government would consider the recommendations of the report.

"The Palaszczuk Government has led the way in tackling domestic and family violence and we will continue to do so," she said.

"At the election, we committed to delivering specialist training to our first responders and domestic violence case workers."

Women's Legal Service CEO Angela Lynch said more must be done to improve information sharing was needed to alert partners about a person's violent history.

"The cases that came before the death review highlighted there were some gaps," she said.

"There can be more work done around how we respond to violent men who are serial predators.

"There is more we should be doing legislatively to protect, alert or attempt to stop domestic violence."

There are also fears the effect of COVID-19 on domestic violence incidents will "not be felt for some time", with one-third of homicides occurring between March and June last year.

The number of DV-related suicides in 2019-20 also jumped by five to 62.

If you need assistance phone DV Connect on 1800 811 811 or Lifeline on 131114.

Originally published as Time's up for serial offenders as DV thugs beat system

Fabiana Palhares died after she was attacked by Brock Wall, the father of her unborn child. File picture
Fabiana Palhares died after she was attacked by Brock Wall, the father of her unborn child. File picture

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