Beenleigh Court House lands extra magistrate and DV jurisdiction, with an upgrade in the pipeline

JURISDICTION of the state’s new specialist domestic and violence court will be granted to Beenleigh Court House under a suite of new statewide court measures announced by Attorney-General Yvette D’Ath this week.

An extra magistrate will be appointed to the region, one of four new magistrates for the newly rolled-out specialist court. Another two magistrates will be appointed at Southport and one at Townsville.

According to a spokesperson from the minister’s office, the rollout of the specialist domestic and family violence court to Townsville and Beenleigh will be accompanied by major capital investment to refurbish both courts.

“This will include incorporating dedicated domestic and family violence court rooms, safety precincts, meeting rooms and a specialist court registry,” the spokesperson said. 

According to Mrs D’Ath, the new locations were determined after considering which courts handled the highest volume of domestic and family violence matters. 

“Domestic and family violence matters comprise nearly 20 per cent of the overall statewide workload of the magistrates courts,” she said. 

“Once fully operational, these specialist courts will help address some 28 per cent of the civil and criminal domestic and family violence matters coming before our magistrates courts statewide.”

Reinstated court services

According to the minister’s office, a specialist drug court will be reinstated in Brisbane with one new magistrate, after being axed by the Liberal-National Party.

“In addition, there will also be one new full time magistrate based in Brisbane for the children’s court,” Mrs D’Ath said.

“The Palaszczuk government is also providing relief funding, equivalent to a full-time magistrate, to support specialist magistrates in regional areas to do more children’s court work.”

According to the Attorney-General, the 2017-18 state budget delivered on the Palaszczuk government’s commitment to tackling domestic and family violence. 

“Outcomes of the Evaluation of the Specialist Domestic and Family Violence Court Trial in Southport showed that the specialist court had higher ratings of satisfaction by victims, higher levels of self-reported understanding of court outcomes for both victims and perpetrators, and higher perceptions that offenders were being held accountable,” she said. 

“The evaluation also recommended that the specialist court continue and that a specialisation approach be rolled out across Queensland. 

“We know the Southport trial saw an increase in the number of cases, which is a sign that victims feel more comfortable in coming forward and that people have confidence in the way the justice system approaches domestic and family violence cases. 

“One of the Palaszczuk government’s top priorities is tackling domestic and family violence in our community, and this court sets a clear judicial and procedural framework in how to deal with the problem into the future,” she said.

Capital works

Updated June 21

The Attorney-General announced $11 million in capital works funding over two years to establish domestic and family violence courts at Beenleigh.

Project planning has commenced and $5.5 million was allocated for the works in the 2017–18 budget.

“The refurbishment will include a second dedicated domestic and family violence court room, a safety precinct for women, a specialist court registry and extra meeting rooms,” Mrs D’Ath said on a visit to Beenleigh Court House.

The new works are expected to be completed in the 2018-2019 financial year.