Specialist domestic and family violence court to operate in Cairns

Attorney-General and Minister for Justice, Minister for Women and Minister for the Prevention of Domestic and Family Violence The Honourable Shannon Fentiman

A specialist domestic and family violence court will be established in Cairns to help vulnerable Queenslanders navigate the criminal justice system.

Attorney-General and Minister for Justice Shannon Fentiman said the Queensland Government had committed $13.4 million over four years to roll-out the new specialist court to deal exclusively with domestic and family violence (DFV) matters.

“This model ensures victims attending court can have confidence the experience won’t further traumatise them,” the Attorney said.

“It means women are supported through the legal system, instead of getting lost in it.”

Member for Barron River Craig Crawford said additional funding has also been committed to upgrade the Cairns Courthouse to improve victim safety and make sure facilities are modern and functional.

“With one of the busiest magistrates courts in Queensland, which deals with a high volume of DFV matters, Cairns will benefit from this specialist court,” Mr Crawford said.

“In 2020-21, the court dealt with more than 1,200 applications for domestic violence orders and more than 1,400 charges of contravening a domestic violence order.”

Member for Cairns Michael Healy said specialist domestic and family violence courts were first trialled in Queensland in 2015 and currently operate in Southport, Beenleigh, Townsville, Mount Isa and Palm Island.

“Specialist courts are shown to be effective in prioritising the safety of victims, holding perpetrators accountable and working to promote changes in attitudes and behaviour,” Mr Healy said.

“The Queensland Women’s Safety and Justice Taskforce’s Hear Her Voice report supported the model, recommending an expansion of the program.”

Minister Fentiman said the design and operation of the Cairns Specialist Domestic and Family Violence Court would be informed by the operations of existing specialist courts, particularly Queensland’s first permanent specialist DFV court at Southport.

“An independent evaluation of the Southport Specialist Domestic and Family Violence Court found this model is proving extremely successful,” she said.

“The measures include dedicated magistrates, specialised duty lawyers and prosecutors, as well as a skilled registry and a range of support services.”

Overlay footage of the specialist DFV Court at Southport here.

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