WARNING: DISTRESSING CONTENT
The parents of Hannah Clarke have welcomed the Queensland Government’s “historic overhaul” of laws aimed at protecting Queensland women from domestic and family violence.
The announcement comes two years after the deaths of Hannah Clarke, and her three children Aaliyah, 6, Laianah, 4, and Trey, 3, who were tragically killed in a horrific car fire that was allegedly lit by her estranged husband Rowan Baxter, 42.
Hannah and the children were leaving her parents’ house in the Brisbane suburb of Camp Hill to make their way to school at around 8.30am on February 19, 2020, when she was ambushed by Baxter, who allegedly entered the vehicle, armed with a knife, and a can of petrol. Baxter allegedly ordered Hannah to drive, before dousing her, and the car with petrol, and then set the vehicle alight. The vehicle then exploded. Baxter took his own life at the scene.
While making the announcement on Tuesday, May 10, Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk said “women have literally taken to the streets to say ‘enough is enough'”.
“My government has heard. My government has listened. My government is acting,” she said.
“Coercive control is the most common factor leading up to intimate partner homicide. By the end of next year, we will introduce legislation to criminalise it.
“Not one of us will solve the incidence of domestic and family violence. It’s going to take all of us. Together.”
BREAKING: Queensland will introduce legislation to make coercive control a criminal offence by the end of 2023 and today I’m announcing an historic overhaul of laws to better protect Queenslanders. #qldpol pic.twitter.com/xN8DVCrB3R
— Annastacia Palaszczuk (@AnnastaciaMP) May 9, 2022
The $363 million package includes a raft of reforms that will include a Commission of Inquiry into police practices regarding domestic violence, new laws to address and prevent coercive control, better support for women, an expansion of the Domestic and Violence courts and making coercive control a criminal offence.
Hannah Clarke’s parents, Sue and Lloyd have welcomed the reforms from the Queensland Government.
“We welcome the Queensland Governments’ announcement of coercive control laws, extra support for police, and respectful relationships education for young Queenslanders. And we thank Justice McMurdo and her taskforce for hearing the voices of Hannah, Aaliyah, Laianah and Trey, along with countless others,” Sue and Lloyd said in a statement.
“As our foundation, Small Steps 4 Hannah tries to achieve, this is all about HALTing the cycle of domestic and family violence.
“H’ for Hannah, ‘A’ for Aaliyah, ‘L’ for Laianah and ‘T’ for Trey, the members of our family who we have lost.”
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Hannah’s father Lloyd told ABC News “today is an emotional day for us”.
“This is why we formed ‘Small Steps for Hannah’ to give our four angels a voice and make change,” Lloyd said.
“We’re grateful the government has come on board, they’ve always been in the background there with us talking and we’re so grateful they’re going to make coercive control laws.”
Hannah’s parents recently described how their “lives changed forever” following the deaths of their daughter and three grandchildren, in a heartbreaking victim impact statement during the final days of an inquest into the death of Hannah Clarke and her children.
Lloyd questioned how such a tragedy was able to occur.
“As a society, we also need to ask ourselves why this can happen. Why did Hannah and the children receive no genuine protection. Why does it take the murder of four beautiful souls and dozens of others, every year, before governments respond?” he said.
Sue described through tears how “there is not one part of our lives that has not been affected by their murders”.
“We will never be the same people we were before Hannah, Aaliyah, Laianah and Trey were taken from us.
“What we have suffered cost us so much in every sense of the word. Emotionally, physically, financially, our grief is still continuing.
“We have trouble articulating the emotional and mental impacts of this crime. They are so overwhelming it seems impossible to find the words.
“Not one day has passed without tears, there is no rest, no escape, every single day we spend in the shadow of that moment of what was done to our beautiful angels. We would give anything to be free of those memories and constant thoughts.”
FAMILY VIOLENCE DISCLAIMER: If you are concerned about domestic and family violence in your family, friends or workplace, contact the National Sexual Assault, Domestic Family Violence Counselling Service on 1800 737 732, Mensline Australia on 1300 789 978, Relationships Australia on 1300 364 277 or Lifeline Australia on 13 11 14 for confidential support, advice and referral that will help you explore your options.