IMPROVEMENTS TO DOMESTIC VIOLENCE RESOURCES ON THE GOLD COAST
The increase in awareness of Domestic Violence on the Gold Coast has put a spotlight on the resources available to victims. Amongst those resources, and at the centre of the conversation, is the new Domestic and Family Violence Specialist Court (‘the DFV Court’).
In conjunction with recommendations of the Special Taskforce Report on Domestic and Family Violence (namely, Not Now, Not Ever: Putting an End to Domestic and Family Violence report), the DFV Court was established for a trial period from 1 September 2015 to 30 June 2017 to assist victims of domestic violence.
The DFV Court has made the process of applying for a Domestic Violence Order more ‘user friendly’. Domestic Violence Orders, which are orders containing conditions to protect a victim of Domestic Violence, have risen as a result.
One of the biggest problems recognised was the chronic under-reporting of incidents by victims. By focusing on the accessibility of support services, and by campaigning to create awareness about the epidemic, the community has become “more confident in reporting these offences to police” (says Emerald Police Officer-in-Charge Senior Sergeant Peter McFarlane).
The key components of the DFV Court are:
( a ) Two dedicated magistrates with a wealth of experience in dealing with domestic and family violence matters (and related criminal proceedings). Having only two specialist magistrates has provided continuity in sentencing and decision making, and has resulted in the development of their already existing expertise;
( b ) The Court is located on first floor of the Southport Magistrate Court, providing security for attendees (which is particularly important for victims who still feel fearful);
( c ) A Court Coordinator, overseeing the implementation of the trial;
( d ) A separate Domestic and Family Violence Registry, with officers who are dedicated to assisting (particularly with drafting immediate temporary protection orders that require same-day filing);
( e ) Trained volunteers, who are situated at an information desk to assist victim/aggrieved and alleged perpetrator/respondents when first entering the Court;
( f ) A support room, where the aggrieved can sit and wait for the matter to be called (with a connecting door to the court room so the aggrieved does not have to encounter the respondent);
( g ) Key support services on the same floor as the court (both legal and non-legal), including:
( i ) duty lawyer services (for both the victim/aggrieved and the alleged perpetrator/respondent);
( ii ) dedicated police prosecutors to assist with the flow of matters through the DFV Court;
( iii ) Domestic Violence Prevention Centre;
( iv ) counselling and risk assessment services; and
( v ) perpetrator behaviour change programs for men.
The DFV Court has been an important part of the strategy to protect the safety of all members of the community, and to put an end to domestic violence.
If you are thinking about filing a Domestic Violence Order, or you need advice about defending a Domestic Violence Order, please contact Ramsden Lawyers on (07) 55 921 921.
If you or anyone you know is being subjected to any kind of controlling or dominating behaviour that insights a fear for safety or well-being, please contact DV Connect (1800 811 811) for information and advice, or otherwise contact the Police (000) immediately.
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