The Domestic Violence Death Review Action Group was formed in 2004 to campaign for the establishment of a Domestic Violence Death Review Board in Queensland and a specific legislative response to non-lethal strangulation. This group evolved to become the Red Rose Foundation in 2016.
Putting strangulation forward as a significant risk indicator is based on the work of Strack and McAllen (2001) who undertook research into three hundred strangulation cases submitted for misdemeanour prosecution to the San Diego City Attorney’s Office. The study revealed that a lack of training may have caused police and prosecutors to overlook symptoms of strangulation or to rely too heavily on the visible signs of strangulation. Because most victims of strangulation had no visible injuries or their injuries were too minor to photograph, opportunities for higher level criminal prosecution were missed.
Follow up research on the risks associated with non-fatal strangulation in cases of domestic violence was conducted by Glass, Laughton, Campbell, Block, Hanson, Sharps and Taliaferro (2004). This study found that prior non-fatal strangulation was a significant risk factor for attempted or completed homicide of women with prior non-fatal strangulation associated with 45% of attempted homicides and 43% of homicides. Through our work, a specific criminal offence of non-lethal strangulation has now been established in Queensland.
To further our aim of raising awareness of the dangerous nature of non-lethal strangulation, providing expert training and forging partnerships of research and education, the Red Rose Foundation has brought expert trainers to Australia in 2017 Brisbane and Mackay, 2018 Brisbane and Canberra, again in 2019 Brisbane, Melbourne and Perth. Plans were underway for the return of international experts Gael Strack and Dr Bill Smock to Australia in 2020. The Australian Institute for Strangulation Prevention continues to provide a high-quality training schedule.
Our aim is to see the introduction of specific non-lethal strangulation legislation introduced into every State and Territory in Australia. This needs to be accompanied by specialist training across police, justice, health, probation, domestic violence and sexual assault services and sectors.