The Palaszczuk Government is maintaining a strong stance on violent crime, directing the Queensland Sentencing Advisory Council (QSAC) to undertake a review and provide recommendations concerning how serious offenders are sentenced in Queensland.
The Serious Violent Offence (SVO) scheme operates under the Penalties and Sentences Act 1992 and applies to offenders who have been sentenced for a range of serious offences.
Once a person is declared to be convicted of an SVO, they are not eligible for parole until they have served the lesser of either 80 per cent of their sentence or 15 years imprisonment.
Attorney-General and Minister for Justice Shannon Fentiman said it was a priority to assess how the SVO scheme was impacting court sentencing in Queensland.
“Ensuring the safety of Queenslanders and that our courts are handing down appropriate sentences to violent and sexual offenders is a key focus for the Palaszczuk Government,” the Attorney said.
“The QSAC review of the SVO scheme will help us to assess whether the scheme is operating as it was intended which is to prevent violent criminals from harming our communities and reoffending.
“It will examine whether further reforms are required to ensure that sentencing outcomes reflect the seriousness of these offences.
“The review will also examine the impact of the SVO scheme on victims’ satisfaction with the sentencing process, as well as the impact of any recommendations on the overrepresentation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples in the criminal justice system.”
CEO of the Queensland Homicide Victims Support Group Brett Thompson welcomed the review of the Serious Violent Offence scheme.
“QHVSG acknowledges and sincerely thanks the Palaszczuk Government for its decision to undertake a review of the SVO scheme. We specifically acknowledge the Attorney General and her team for honouring this election commitment which was made to QHVSG members,” Mr Thompson said.
“We know that QSAC have been heavily engaged with QHVSG in previous reviews and we look forward to supporting their work collaboratively again. It will enable our members to provide input into potential change.”
The Attorney said that consultation would be undertaken with key stakeholders as part of the review, including with the judiciary, legal professionals, victims of crime groups, child protection and domestic, family and sexual violence advocacy groups, and other government agencies.
“It is vital that the sentencing process produces sentences that are effective, fair and just, and that protect the community’s safety,” she said.
“The parole system also allows offenders to serve an appropriate portion of their sentence in the community, in order to successfully and safely reintegrate into the community and minimise the likelihood of them reoffending.”
QSAC is expected to provide a report to the Attorney-General and Minister for Justice, Minister for Women and Minister for the Prevention of Domestic and Family Violence in 2022.
Ms Fentiman said the Government’s key focus is acting on best practice and evidence‑based recommendations that continue to ensure the proper and effective operation of the justice system in Queensland.
“A review of the SVO scheme and how violent offences are handled was an election commitment, and the Queensland Government intends to thoroughly examine any measures that will help ensure a safer community,” she said.