QLS welcomes Budget funding for justice issues
14 June 2017
Queensland Law Society has welcomed the myriad justice initiatives announced in the 2017-18 State Budget – in particular the return of drug courts and extension of permanent specialist domestic violence courts.
Society president Christine Smyth said the Queensland Government had delivered funding to a wide range of important justice issues, including the expansions of permanent domestic and family violence courts, the reintroduction of drug courts, the return of 17 year olds from adult detention to the youth justice system and community legal centres.
“QLS thinks the Government should be praised for its diverse feast of funding to essential justice programs and initiatives such as DVF and drug courts and juvenile justice reforms.
“However, the Society has campaigned hard for more to be done by both state and federal governments to ensure a myriad of programs and reforms including fast and fair access to justice for all Queenslanders.’’
Ms Smyth said the key areas of benefit to attract funding included:
- $55.1 million over four years (including $20 million capital over two years) and ongoing funding of $8.5 million per annum across Justice Services and Corrective Services service areas, the judiciary and Legal Aid Queensland to continue the specialist domestic and family violence court in Southport and expand to Beenleigh and Townsville (by establishing specialist civil lists) with circuits to Mt Isa and Palm Island
This forms part of the Government’s total package of $69.5 million over four years to rollout specialist domestic and family violence courts and includes $40.4 million over four years provided as a whole-of-government contingency for this measure in the 2016-17 budget. This forms part of the Government's overall package to respond to the Not Now, Not Ever report since 2015-16 budget
- $186.1 million over four years (including $16.9 million capital) and ongoing funding of $44.8 million per annum across Justice Services and youth justice service areas, the judiciary and Legal Aid Queensland to transition 17 year olds from Queensland’s adult justice system to the youth justice system. This forms part of the Government’s total package of $199.6 million over four years to transition 17 year olds to the youth justice system
- $33.3 million over three years for legal assistance services for vulnerable and disadvantaged people delivered by Queensland Community Legal Centres, and an additional allocation of $565,000 interim funding to support Queensland Community Legal Centres to maintain staff and services for three months while decisions are made about the allocation of the restored Commonwealth funding over 2017-20
2017-18 service area highlights:
In 2017-18, the Department of Justice and Attorney-General will contribute to the Queensland Government's priorities to deliver an effective, responsive and efficient justice system by:
- managing the contract with Life Without Barriers on behalf of the Government to deliver Queensland’s second Social Benefit Bond (SBB). The SBB seeks to reduce reoffending rates for young people aged 10-16 years old and also aims to reduce the risk of young people being held on remand. The multi-systemic therapy service provides the opportunity to address re-offending rates among young offenders where early intervention can reduce both severity and duration of future offending behaviour. Up to 600 young people over five years will be referred to the program by Youth Justice
- $16 million capital over two years to upgrade and maintain courthouse infrastructure across Queensland, including increased funding of $7.5 million for repair work at the Rockhampton courthouse
- $31.6 million over five years ($6.3 million for 2021-22) reducing to $4.2 million per annum, ongoing from 2022-23, to expand and upgrade existing audio visual capability in the criminal justice system 2017-18 Queensland State Budget - Service Delivery Statements - Department of Justice and Attorney-General
- $22.7 million over four years and ongoing funding of $6.5 million per annum across Justice Services and Corrective Services service areas, the judiciary and Legal Aid Queensland to reinstate the Drug Court and to provide referral and support services to help people address issues associated with their offending
- $6.8 million over two years and reprioritised funding of $500,000 in 2017-18 to continue with the whole-of-government's critical intervention strategies under the Community Youth Response initiative in Townsville
- $331,000 in 2017-18 to fund the coronial inquest into the deaths at Dreamworld
- respond to justice issues arising from the Interim Report of the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse including Working with Children Checks
- develop and implement the Government's response to the Queensland Child and Family Commission’s review of Queensland’s Blue Card system
- continue the Domestic and Family Violence Death Review Unit to support the State Coroner in his role of chair of the Domestic and Family Violence Death Review and Advisory Board, including the development of their first Annual Report on activities and recommendations made with respect to their review of these types of deaths
- finalisation of new contractual agreements with funeral directors for the conveyance of human remains and the provision of services under the Burials Assistance Act 1965
- continue with digitising paper services and evaluating new commercial technologies for potential benefits in reducing the impact of increasing demand on justice services
- roll out of a further three High Risk Teams to Cairns, Brisbane and Ipswich to provide an integrated response across Government and the community to domestic and family violence
- continue to roll out funding to community justice groups in discrete Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities to tackle domestic and family violence in their communities with a further eight groups to receive funding.
Ms Smyth said it was appropriate government spending on justice was up, but more needed to be done in areas such as funding to ensure access to justice for all Queenslanders, more judicial appointments and for initiatives in the area of domestic and family violence and elder abuse.