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

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

From highlighting issues of misogyny and racism to exposing leadership failures, the commission’s 400-page report, which made 78 recommendations, has been called a ‘disturbing’ read by the prime minister from Queensland.

Here are some of the key takeaways from the report:

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

“Imperfect” promotion system

The report says a “leadership failure” has 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 with the persistence of sexism and misogyny within the QPS rests with the organization’s senior leaders who set the ethical tone for the organization,” the report said.

He said Police Commissioner Katarina Carroll and other senior leaders had not “spoken or called out” the conduct of two senior officers who made “glib comments” at executive conferences “within days or the weeks following the incidents”.

“When the QPS fails to speak out against the sexism exhibited by its top leadership, negative attitudes toward women can flourish, including among junior officers.”

Both officers were dealt with by “local management resolution”, with one subsequently promoted to chief superintendent.

The Board of Inquiry report said it showed the promotion system was “flawed” and bad behavior was “not a barrier to promotion in the QPS”.

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

During hearings into the inquest, Commissioner Carroll said it was ‘probably an understatement’ to say she was upset and appalled by both incidents, and that one of the officers ‘challenged’ the wording , but had “remorse”.

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

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

Racism in the ranks

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

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

The report notes that in August 2020, a group of officers who identify as First Nations people and people of color met with the police commissioner and other senior leaders to discuss their experiences of racism within organisation.

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