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Hannah Clarke’s parents welcome report recommending criminalisation of coercive control

The parents of slain Queensland woman Hannah Clarke have welcomed a report which paves the way for the criminalisation of coercive control.

Sue and Lloyd Clarke, who also lost their grandchildren Aaliyah, Laianah, and Trey in a horrific domestic violence attack in Brisbane in 2020, said prior to their daughter’s death, they hadn’t heard of the concept of coercive control.

“We knew something was wrong, we didn’t know it had a name,” Lloyd Clarke said outside parliament.

The exhaustive review of Queensland domestic violence laws has been handed to the state government.

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First responders and the broader community need time to understand how to identify and respond to a form of abuse characterised by controlling and manipulative behaviour, the Women’s Safety and Justice Taskforce report says.

The recommendation was one of 89 now under consideration by the state government, Queensland Attorney-General Shannon Fentiman said before tabling the report on Thursday.

Hannah Clarke and her children, Aaliyah, Laianah, and Trey. Credit: Supplied

“To the over 700 brave victim-survivors who have come forward to share their stories, we hear your voice, and we will listen,” she said.

The behaviour is about a false belief “too many men have” that they are entitled to power and control over women, Ms Fentiman told parliament.

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However the report warns criminalising coercive control cannot happen overnight.

Sue and Lloyd Clarke, who were in the public gallery for the release of the report, said new laws would not work unless frontline workers understood the red flags of coercive control.

Sue and Lloyd Clarke have welcomed a Women’s Safety and Justice Taskforce report recommending the criminalisation of coercive control.
Sue and Lloyd Clarke have welcomed a Women’s Safety and Justice Taskforce report recommending the criminalisation of coercive control. Credit: 7NEWS

“We can’t make these laws work unless they know what to look for, especially the red flags,” said Lloyd Clarke.

“It’s that gradual process. It creeps up on you at first. There are no warning signs to start with.

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“It took three or four years to see how it was spiralling out of control. You just don’t see that at the start.”

Sue Clarke welcomed the recommendations around educating children about coercive control.

Hannah Clarke with her children Aaliyah, Laianah and Trey.
Hannah Clarke with her children Aaliyah, Laianah and Trey. Credit: Supplied

“Education’s the key. Hopefully if we can educate children early, we won’t have to worry about coercive control laws because we won’t need them,” she said.

Shutting down personal social media accounts in favour of joint profiles, limiting clothing choices, going through phones and constant checking-in were among the warning signs, the couple said.

“We need bystanders, especially family and friends, to say, ‘It’s not cool. Let’s call them out’,” Mr Clarke said.

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‘We knew something was wrong, we didn’t know it had a name’.

Among the recommendations for immediate law reform were modernising the unlawful stalking offence to keep pace with technology, and amendments to reduce perpetrators using cross applications to “continue inflicting violence and coercion on their victims”, Fentiman said.

The report also suggests a further inquiry examining the culture of police.

“The taskforce heard in many submissions that women did not get an appropriate response from the police,” she said.

The first raft of legislative change is expected next year and the government will provide a formal response to the recommendations in the first half of 2022.

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