Specialist Domestic Violence Courts

Specialist Domestic Violence Courts

Queensland Law Society has praised the state government’s budget commitment to fund the Southport specialist domestic violence court permanently, and roll out two new specialist courts in Townsville and Beenleigh.

President Christine Smyth on Tuesday (June 13) said the announcement was a welcome decision, including the Queensland Attorney-General’s commitment to also refurbish all three courts.

“The Southport specialist court trial has proved a great success, with the Gold Coast being the sixth largest city in Australia, and desperately requiring more court resources for its burgeoning population,” she said.

The specialist court was announced in the 2016-17 State Budget, with QLS at the time congratulating the Government on their commitment to justice initiatives.

“The Society has consistently supported the idea of specialist courts across Queensland, and we applaud the Government for recognising that domestic violence courts are needed,” Ms Smyth said.

“Violence is a scourge in our community and domestic and family violence is a stain on our society.

“Those who suffer from these types of violence must have access to reliable and timely assistance from our justice system, and that is what these specialist courts provide.

“This is also timely as we are two days out from World Elder Abuse Awareness Day, and elder abuse was recognised in the Not Now, Not Ever Report as a special form of domestic violence.

“The announcement that the Townsville Court will also focus on culturally responsive approaches for our First Nations Peoples is also a welcome one, and I hope this will continue the discussion of the appallingly high rates of Indigenous incarceration.

“It is our hope that these two new trials are just the beginning of further targeted resources to our justice system, and another step in eradicating the scourge of domestic and family violence from our community.

Ms Smyth said that over 5,500 applications were filed at the Southport specialist court during the first year, proving that the court was of use to those in the Gold Coast and surrounding areas.

“I am pleased to see this important part of our social infrastructure continue on a permanent basis on the Gold Coast, and am equally pleased to hear that Circuit Court sittings will be held in Mt Isa and Palm Island by visiting magistrates.

“Our regional areas are often at a disadvantage with fewer court resources and specialist services.

“The Government’s acknowledgement of their need for fast and fair access to justice will – I’m sure – be appreciated by the local communities.”

Queensland Attorney-General Yvette D’Ath said that once operational, the specialist courts would help to address around 28 per cent of the civil and criminal domestic family violence matters that currently pass in front of magistrates across the state.

“Domestic and family violence is an extremely damaging issue for our society, and one that is clearly at the coalface of our court system,” Ms Smyth said.

“Each small step that we take as a community is one step closer to helping those suffering from domestic and family violence to begin rebuilding their lives.

“I look forward to seeing the Government continue to deliver further resources to our courts and improve access to justice for Queenslanders across the state.”


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