Domestic violence courts to be trialled in Qld

A DOMESTIC violence court will be trialled at Southport on the Gold Coast as part of the Queensland Government's $31 million plan to tackle DV.

The announcement on Tuesday by Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk and Communities Minister Shannon Fentiman comes in the wake of Australian Regional Media and The Gympie Times high-profile Terror At Home campaign, which has lobbied for the introduction of specialist domestic violence courts and mandatory healthy relationships programs in schools.

Ms Palaszczuk accepted a petition with 2500 signatures from ARM in May after the extensive campaign throughout the company's 12 daily and more than 50 non-daily newspapers, including The Gympie Times.

The court trial will start in September and be reviewed after six months.

Domestic Violence Prevention Centre Gold Coast director Amy Compton-Keen said the Southport court already faces up to 50 domestic violence matters daily.

She said as domestic violence increased, its visibility needed to as well.

The Queensland Association of Independent Legal Service director James Farrell said community legal centres had provided legal advice to 5500 people who had been on the receiving end of domestic violence last year.

The group praised the domestic court pilot, but said all Queensland courts needed specially trained staff, safe places for victims to wait away from their abuser, links to specialist services, and duty lawyers to represent both parties.

Opposition treasury spokesman John-Paul Langbroek welcomed the focus on domestic violence but said the Palaszczuk Government did not consult enough, if at all, before deciding to establish the court.

Other government initiatives include establishing an independent Domestic and Family Violence Death Review Unit and $1.1 million to expand the domestic violence duty lawyer service at Legal Aid Queensland.

The government will also establish dedicated 72-hour crisis shelters in Brisbane and Townsville and $3 million for a national campaign to reduce violence against women and children.

DVConnect chief Diane Mangan said it was very important to find immediate accommodation for women and children fleeing domestic violence.

The announcement was part of the government's response to former Governor-General Quentin Bryce's Not Now, Not Ever taskforce report into domestic and family violence released four months ago.

The report, commissioned by the Newman Government, revealed on average 180 domestic violence incidents a day across Queensland.

Ms Bryce made 140 recommendations to stem the violence through implementing long-term systemic and cultural change, including the introduction of respectful relationships programs in all schools.

Ms Palaszczuk did not indicate whether the school programs would be implemented, but said the government would soon release its full response to the report.

The issue has also come into the national spotlight since domestic violence victim campaigner Rosie Batty was awarded the 2015 Australian of the Year.

n If you or someone you know is affected by sexual assault or family violence, phone 1800RESPECT on 1800 737 732 or visit 1800respect.org.au. In an emergency, phone 000.

Gympie Times


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