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Talkin' About Law newsletter - Edition 17
Police in foreground standing watch over demonstration space

Public safety - what rights do you have?


When a dangerous situation arises that can affect public safety, police can declare what's called an emergent situation.  

Think of the recent Queen Street Mall incident when a man weilding a gun forced the closure of Brisbane's CBD.

The act that gives the police this power is the Public Safety Preservation Act 1986.

Extraordinary powers

Under the Public Safety Preservation Act, police can question, search and even detain an individual without a warrant and use what force they deem necessary at their discretion.

Police can ask people to leave their homes immediately if required.


If you are in an area that is declared an emergency and under police control, you must comply with police directions until the area is stabilized.

This is to ensure your safety and other people around you.   Stopping to capture the incident on camera or video puts you at risk.  You could be arrested, held in custody, have your property seized and denied your rights to contact family or a legal respresentative.  

Be informed

The Aboriginal and Torres Strait islander Legal Service in Queensland regularly conduct community legal education workshops for people who want to understand their legal rights and obligations.  Contact your nearest ATSILS office for  details. 

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About the project

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Talkin' About Law is a community legal education project aimed at the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community in Queensland and is funded by the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Legal Service.

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