Member of Zonta Club of Brisbane Inc joins taskforce to legislate against gender-based violence

There is a growing voice to outlaw coercive control in Australia, with just one state – Tasmania – to have introduced specific criminal offences covering elements of coercive control. A member from the Zonta Club of Brisbane Inc, Hon Margaret McMurdo AC, retired President of Queensland’s Court of Appeal, has been invited by the state government to chair a new independent taskforce in Queensland, Australia to determine the best way to legislate against coercive control in the fight against domestic and family violence.

The establishment of the taskforce recognizes that coercive control, which can include tactics such as isolating women and surveillance, is a highly significant risk factor for escalating violence is therefore a form of domestic violence. The taskforce is to also consider whether domestic and family violence should be made a discrete criminal offence and to report on ways to improve the experience of victims of domestic family and sexual violence in Queensland’s criminal justice system.

Margaret will lead the taskforce, which will consult with a wide range of survivors, domestic and sexual violence service providers, legal and domestic violence experts, the legal profession and the community. The taskforce plans to complete its report by March 2022.

This honor is the latest in a long list of roles for this distinguished Zontian. As the first woman to be appointed to Queensland’s District Court in 1991, a founding fellow of the Australian Academy of Law and a member of the American Law Institute, Margaret is an inspiration to many. Following her retirement as a court of appeal judge in 2017, she became Commissioner and Chair of the Victorian Royal Commission into the Management of Police Informants (2018-2020); Patron of the Women’s Legal Service (2014-2021) and Chair of the Board of Legal Aid Queensland (2017.- current).

The Zonta Club of Brisbane Inc proudly raises funds for initiatives that support women and their families who are victims of domestic and family violence and strongly advocates for more to be done to stop violence against women and their children.