Police and Emergency Service Reforms
The Queensland Government has embarked on a number of significant programs of reform that aim to enhance community safety and better support and equip frontline police and emergency services.
The Police and Emergency Services Reform Program (PESRP) has been established to coordinate a large suite of reforms being undertaken across multiple Queensland Government agencies, focussed on enhanced emergency services and disaster management arrangements, domestic and family violence and sexual assault reforms, and opportunities for improvement in the collection, testing and analysis of DNA in the criminal justice context in Queensland.
Mr Steve Gollschewski APM was appointed as the Special Coordinator for Police and Emergency Services Reform in November 2022, overseeing the multi-agency response to the:
- ‘A Call for Change’ report and companion report from the Commission of Inquiry into the Queensland Police Service response to domestic and family violence’s report,
- Independent review of the Queensland Fire and Emergency Services and its associated volunteer services, and enhancements to the disaster management arrangements - including implementation of recommendations from the Inspector-General of Emergency Management (IGEM) review of disaster management arrangements,
and the QPS response to:
- Women’s Safety and Justice Taskforce’s ‘Hear Her Voice’ (reports 1 and 2),
- Independent review by Professor Lorraine Mazerolle (the Mazerolle Review) into investigations of police-related deaths and domestic and family violence deaths in Queensland, and
- The Commission of Inquiry into Forensic DNA Testing in Queensland.
The PESRP is also considering the QPS response to the following reports and coronial inquests to ensure efficiencies and oversight of dependencies:
- the recommendations of the coronial inquests into the deaths of Doreen Langham and Hannah Clarke and her children, Aaliyah, Laianah and Trey, and,
- the Queensland Audit Office Audit Report ‘Keeping People Safe from Domestic and Family Violence’.
Enhanced Emergency Services and Disaster Management for Queensland
In October 2022, the government announced an enhanced investment in fire and emergency services’ capabilities to ensure Queensland’s committed frontline officers, staff and volunteers are best positioned to respond to emergency situations and keep Queenslanders safe in a disaster. The reform program represents a $400 million commitment across a four-year period and will bring major changes to the current disaster and emergency management response systems in Queensland, including:
- an uplift to frontline resources across the State Emergency Service (SES), Rural Fire Service, Fire and Rescue Service and Queensland Reconstruction Authority (QRA)
- the establishment of the SES and Marine Rescue Queensland (MRQ) as new entities
- the establishment of the new Queensland Fire Department
- the transition of responsibility for a number of new functions to the QPS.
The Reform Implementation Taskforce, consisting of QFES, QPS and QRA representatives, has been established to implement the reforms. It is expected these reforms will be implemented by 30 June 2024. It will also implement the recommendations made in the Inspector General Emergency Management’s review of Queensland’s Disaster Management arrangements. All 10 recommendations were accepted in principle in the Government Response.
Find out more at Disaster and Emergency Services Reform.
Domestic and Family Violence and Sexual Violence
A Call for Change
In November 2022, the Independent Commission of Inquiry into QPS responses to domestic and family violence delivered its report, ‘A Call for Change’, and companion report, ‘Behind the Call for Change’, to Government. It made 78 recommendations for reform, concentrated on the QPS, but also touching on broader domestic and family violence systemic issues.
The Government released an initial response on 21 November 2022, in which it accepted in principle all 78 recommendations and announced an initial $100 million investment. The reforms address structural, systemic, disciplinary and cultural improvements to the QPS and reforms to the wider sector.
Recommendations are being addressed by the QPS, the Police and Emergency Services Reform Program Office, Parliamentary Crime and Corruption Committee, Crime and Corruption Commission, and Department of Justice and Attorney-General.
The Special Coordinator, Police and Emergency Services Reform provides implementation coordination and oversight in conjunction with a co-chaired steering committee with cross-government representation.
The Queensland Government’s response to the Commission of Inquiry is yet to be finalised.
Hear Her Voice (Reports 1 and 2)
The Women’s Safety and Justice Taskforce (the Taskforce) has issued two reports with multi-agency responsibilities.
Hear Her Voice - Report 1 addresses coercive control and domestic and family violence in Queensland. The report was released on 2 December 2021 and identified fundamental systemic and structural issues in Queensland’s justice system relating to its approach to matters of domestic and family violence. The Taskforce made 89 recommendations for broad systemic reform. The Queensland Government response was released in May 2022, supported by a $363 million funding commitment for implementation of recommendations by responsible agencies. The government supported or supported in principle all 89 recommendations.
Hear Her Voice - Report 2 addresses women and girls’ experience across the criminal justice system and was released in July 2022. It made 188 recommendations for government to improve women and girls’ experiences of the criminal justice system as victim-survivors of sexual violence and as accused persons and offenders.
In November 2022, the Queensland Government released its response, supporting 103 recommendations in full, 71 recommendations in principle, and noting 14 recommendations. A $225 million funding package was committed to implementing the responses being led across government.
The Commission of Inquiry and the Taskforce recommended the Queensland Government establish an Independent Implementation Supervisor (IIS) to oversee implementation of the government response. The permanent IIS Cathy Taylor was appointed in March 2023 and took over from the interim IIS, Ms Linda Apelt, who was appointed in November 2022.
Visit Women’s Safety and Justice Taskforce to read more on its reports.
The Mazerolle Review
In November 2021, Professor Lorraine Mazerolle was engaged as Chief Investigator to undertake an independent review of the current arrangements for the investigation and oversight of police-related deaths and domestic family violence deaths.
Professor Mazerolle recognised in her final report that two other commissions of inquiry - the Commission of Inquiry relating to the Crime and Corruption Commission, by the Honourable Tony Fitzgerald AC QC and the Honourable Alan Wilson QC, and the independent Commission of Inquiry into Queensland Police Service responses to domestic and family violence - were also underway and had intersecting terms of reference, extensive resources and coercive powers which informed the scope of work and Terms of Reference.
The Mazerolle Review delivered its final report on 12 July 2022 making 12 recommendations in relation to investigative mechanisms; seven relating to deaths in police custody in the course of police operations, and five for domestic and family violence deaths with prior police contact.
The Queensland Government’s response to the Mazerolle Review is yet to be finalised. Visit Independent review into investigations of police-related deaths and DFV deaths in Queensland for more information.
Forensic DNA Testing
In December 2022, the Independent Commission of Inquiry into Forensic DNA Testing in Queensland released its final report, making 123 recommendations for improvement in the processes for collecting, testing and analysing DNA in Queensland. The Government accepted all recommendations.
Queensland Health’s Forensic Science Queensland is guiding the delivery of the recommendations. QPS is leading implementation of 14 recommendations and monitoring of these recommendations has been incorporated into the scope of the Police and Emergency Services Reform Program.
Visit Queensland Health’s Reviews and Investigations to read more on the response to the Independent Commission of Inquiry into Forensic DNA Testing.