Queensland Law Society

QLS demands 2017 electoral commitment to ongoing funding and roll out of DV courts

Queensland’s peak solicitor body has welcomed the appointment of two new Magistrates to the Southport Domestic Violence Specialist Court.

However, Queensland Law Society president Christine Smyth said while it was a step in the right direction, the specialist Domestic Violence Courts needed to be rolled out across the state.

“QLS has therefore demanded political parties publicly commit to ongoing funding and the roll out of more specialist courts, designed to turn the tide on the scourge that is domestic and family violence,” she said.

QLS issued the challenge in its 2017 State Election Call to Parties document – saying its almost 12,000 solicitor members felt strongly about the issue and importantly the need to also adequately fund specialist duty lawyers to service all domestic violence courts throughout the state.

Ms Smyth said the Society had consistently supported the development of specialist domestic violence courts across Queensland, and it was now time for political parties of all persuasion to “deliver results rather than rhetoric” to ensure the elimination of domestic and family violence was one of the state’s greatest priorities

“We are in the midst of an epidemic of domestic violence, which is tearing at the very fabric of our society – our precious families. The words ‘national shame’ are overused, but in this case they are truly justified,” Ms Smyth said.

“QLS recognises the devastating impact domestic violence has on our community. Part of the solution is ensuring that people have their cases processed quickly.

“The introduction of specialist courts is a great start, however, without access to quality legal assistance, those courts cannot function effectively and those affected by family violence suffer.

“The Society therefore calls for funding of specialist domestic violence duty lawyers and the improvement of professional development for specialist magistrates who deal with far too many of these traumatic and heartbreaking matters on a daily basis.

“Domestic and family violence is literally fracturing our communities and society itself – a tragedy the state’s solicitors help clients deal with on a daily basis; increasing the resources and tools at their disposal is essential to the proper delivery of justice in our community,” Ms Smyth said.

“Each small step that we take as a community is one step closer to helping those affected by domestic and family violence to begin rebuilding their lives. Einstein famously said that the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result; the changes we are calling for are a step in the direction of sanity, and one which cannot be taken soon enough.”

ENDS

For more information, please contact the external affairs team via media@qls.com.au.