Queensland magistrates will lead the legal crackdown on family violence with the specialist court trial starting in Southport today supported by a new bench book and best practice report to deliver better decisions and outcomes.
Attorney-General and Minister for Justice Yvette D’Ath said a team led by Magistrate Colin Strofield would trial the effectiveness of establishing specialist family violence courts.
Mrs D’Ath said every magistrate in Queensland would also be supported by the court’s new bench book on domestic and family violence, as recommended by Dame Quentin Bryce in her landmark report Not Now, Not Ever.
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“The new bench book provides magistrates with a clear judicial and procedural framework for dealing with family violence matters so they can deliver a high level of consistency in how the law is applied statewide,” Mrs D’Ath said.
“Our top priority is the safety, protection and wellbeing of people who fear or suffer from family violence, including children.
“Offenders must be held accountable for their use of violence and its impact on others, but they should also be provided with an opportunity to change if possible.
“The bench book covers physical and sexual abuse, emotional and psychological abuse, economic abuse and threatening or coercive behaviour.
“I’d also like to thank the Chief Magistrate and Queensland magistrates for their commitment to implementing this important recommendation.”
Mrs D’Ath said the Southport trial coincided with the State Government’s $1.1 million commitment to expand the domestic violence duty lawyer service across 14 locations in Queensland through Legal Aid Queensland.
The Magistrates Court has also developed a detailed report to support judicial officers in dealing with family violence by:
- documenting the key elements of best practice;
- identifying services that are available throughout Queensland; and
- promoting legal mechanisms to link victims and offenders to such services.
Chief Magistrate Ray Rinaudo condemned family violence as “a horrendous blight on the community” and described the Not Now, Not Ever report as empowering.
“Queensland courts and many other agencies have been wrestling with these issues for some time and Dame Quentin Bryce has delivered the catalyst, the blueprint and community mood for change,” Judge Rinaudo said.
“Magistrates are confronted with the human tragedy of family violence on a daily basis and will do everything we can to be part of the solution.”
The Bench Book and Best Practice Report for the Domestic and Family Violence Protection Act 2012 can be accessed online at www.courts.qld.gov.au.