Kiara Greenway

A life sentence for Lionel Patea means 20 years behind bars. But for Tara Brown and her extensive network of loving family and friends, a life sentence means never ending journey of grief and heartbreak following the young mother’s murder in September 2015. Monday 27 February saw Patea unexpectedly plead guilty to the murder of Tara Brown in an act of horrific domestic violence.

If you’re not familiar with the case, on 9 September 2015 Tara had just dropped her 3 year old daughter at child care when Patea followed her and then rammed Tara’s car into a ditch on the side of the road, causing it to overturn and trapping her inside. Patea then attacked Tara and her injuries were so severe that she tragically passed away just one day later in hospital. Prior to the attack, Tara had been hiding from Patea in a safe house and friends’ homes since taking out a domestic violence order just days earlier.

Following this horrifying act of domestic violence, a number of initiatives and legislative changes have been introduced to assist those who are faced with domestic violence. Changes that have been made in Queensland to better protect victims and their families include:

  • Domestic Violence Orders are now to be in place for a minimum of 5 years, unless the court is satisfied there are reasons for a shorter time period. Courts are also now required to consider additional conditions that are necessary to protect the named person;
  • The wishes and views of individuals who fear or experience domestic violence are now encouraged to be heard (where possible) before any decisions are made which may affect them;
  • Where family law Orders are in place, the Court will now consider whether that Order needs to be carried or suspended in order to ensure the victim is protected;
  • Victims of domestic violence are now treated as ‘special witnesses’ in Court, protecting them from facing the perpetrator in Court and providing greater protection for them;
  • Increased police protection for victims, their children, relatives and associates;
  • Harsher penalties are being imposed for breaches of Domestic Violence Orders, police protection notices and release conditions; and
  • ‘Ouster’ conditions are now to be considered by the court, which removes the perpetrator from the family home.

These changes aim to reduce the prevalence of domestic violence, and ultimately protect victims where they have lost their ability to protect themselves. Other initiatives such as the Not Now, Not Ever campaign, which provided 140 recommendations to tackle domestic violence, have also been launched in Queensland in a proactive attempt to prevent future tragedies.

At Best Wilson Buckley Family Law, we are able to assist you in seeking support and protection in circumstances of domestic violence. If you require advice on dealing with domestic violence in a family law context, please do not hesitate to contact one of our three offices, now open in Toowoomba, Brisbane, Ipswich and North Lakes.

If your situation is life threatening or urgent in any way, please call 000 or the National Domestic Violence Helpline on 1800 737 732.