Locals lodge over 500 disputes with QCAT
RESIDENTS from our region lodged 542 disputes with the Queensland Civil and Administrative tribunal over two years.
In the 2012-13 financial year, 268 matters from across the region were lodged with QCAT.
This number increased to 274 over the following 12 months.
The most popular requests for adjudication were minor civil matters covering property damage, debt, consumer and trader disagreements and residential tenancy arguments worth up to $25,000.
There were 451 of these over the two years.
Human rights issues - including guardianship and anti-discrimination cases - were the next most common dispute with 56 cases lodged.
The civil, administration and disciplinary division - which covers everything from assessments under the Prostitution Act to disciplining teachers, doctors and lawyers - handled 27 cases.
The appeals section handled eight cases.
Legal expert Raquel Dos Santos, who helps people representing themselves at QCAT, said the tribunal provided a cheaper alternative to the court system because lawyers were not needed to resolve cases.
However, she said navigating QCAT could be a struggle for some people.
"Even though QCAT has informal processes that are designed to accommodate unrepresented parties, our experience is that most people are very nervous and unprepared to conduct the case by themselves," the Queensland Public Interest Law Clearing House lawyer said.
The clearing house offers pro-bono legal advice to help those who are not eligible for legal aid succeed with their QCAT cases.
"We can help people understand QCAT's processes and provide advice about their rights and other options to resolve disputes other than litigation," Ms Dos Santos said.
"Our lawyers can help them to draft documents including QCAT forms and applications and we help them present the case to the tribunal in the best possible way."
OPINION PAGE 8
BY THE NUMBERS
The number of Gympie QCAT disputes lodged over the past two financial years
TYPE, 2012-13, 2013-14
Civil, Admin and Disciplinary
Minor Civil Disputes