How will Queensland Police Service improve its response to domestic and family violence after inquiry condemns ‘failure of leadership’?

A damning report into Queensland police responses to domestic and family violence has delivered a reckoning for the organization.

From highlighting problems with misogyny and racism to pointing out failures of leadership, the Commission of Inquiry’s 400-page report, which made 78 recommendations, has been called “disturbing” reading by Queensland’s Premier.

Here are some of the main takeaways of the report:

Palaszczuk holds the report and looks down.
Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk said the report’s findings were “raw and confronting”.(AAP: Darren England)

Promotion system ‘flawed’

The report said a “failure of leadership” allowed a culture of sexism, misogyny and racism within the Queensland Police Service (QPS) to continue largely “unchecked” for many years.

“Much of the problem of the persistence of sexism and misogyny within the QPS lies at the feet of the organization’s senior leaders who set the ethical tone for the organization,” the report found.

It said Police Commissioner Katarina Carroll and other senior leaders failed to “call out or denounce” the conduct of two senior officers who made “casually sexist comments” at leadership conferences “in the days or weeks after the incidents”.

“When the QPS fails to denounce sexism exhibited by its senior leaders, negative attitudes towards women may thrive, including among junior officers.”

Both of the officers were dealt with by “local managerial resolution”, with one later promoted to chief superintendent.

The commission of inquiry report said this showed the promotion system was “flawed” and that poor behavior was “no barrier to promotion in the QPS”.

“Commissioner [Carroll] could have shown strong leadership by promoting the next person and publicly standing against the recommendation,” the report said.

During the inquiry’s hearings, Commissioner Carroll said it was “probably an understatement” to say she was upset and appalled over the two incidents, and that one of the officers “disputed” the wording, but was “remorseful”.

The report found there were “strong perceptions” among QPS members that “the leadership lacks integrity” and was ultimately responsible for a culture of fear and silence.

Katarina Carroll listening to a journalists question at a press conference.
The report found police leaders failed to act on several fronts.(ABC News: Stephen Cavenagh)

Racism in the ranks

Racism is a “significant problem” within the QPS, the report found.

Examples of racist language and attitudes leveled at police officers and the public included “stupid black c****,” “we should just napalm Aurukun,” and “bring out the black shiny shinys for NAIDOC so we can take photos for Workplace, ” it said.

The report noted that in August 2020 a group of officers who identify as First Nations peoples and People of Color met with the Police Commissioner and other senior leaders to discuss their experiences of racism in the organization.

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