Chief Magistrate Tim Carmody
Chief Magistrate Tim Carmody Rae Wilson

Carmody backs specific courts for domestic violence

QUEENSLAND Chief Justice Tim Carmody has given his personal support to a report recommending the establishment of specialised domestic and family violence courts across the state.

But he said it was critical the right magistrates were appointed to preside over them.

Queensland's Special Taskforce on Domestic and Family Violence, headed up by former governor-general Quentin Bryce, recently handed down its report - called Not Now, Not Ever - into ways of combating the growing social issue.

The report made 140 recommendations including the creation of specialist domestic violence courts with specialist magistrates, who would also play a part in child protection and children's family law matters.

It also called for tougher penalties for offenders and the introduction of a new charge of non-lethal strangulation, because this was a known precursor of domestic homicide.

Justice Carmody said while the creation of specialised courts was a policy issue, he personally supported the idea - but added judicial education and a deeper understanding of the issue was critically important for those who put their hands up for the role.

"If you want to do that type of work, you need to be a very special person with deep knowledge and empathy for the people who you will be dealing with on both sides of the argument," he said.

"Then you have to make sure those people stay abreast of emerging trends, the literature as it unfolds, the scientific findings and the research."


The taskforce's report revealed the number of reported domestic violence incidents to police had increased from 58,000 in 2011-12 to 66,000 in 2013-14 - more than 180 incidents every day.

Justice Carmody said the recommendation made in the report to introduce tougher penalties may not always have the desired effect on some offenders.

"The aim should be to ensure that (offenders) do not come back before the courts," he said.

"Any intervention needs to be designed to ensure offenders do not bounce back, either with a different partner, at a different time in their lives, with their children or in another context.

"We need to help those people deal with whatever is driving their domestic violence and there is usually one root problem.

"The aim has to be to make sure the state, having intervened, has done the job the right way in the first instance to ensure it does not have to intervene again."

Mr Carmody would not comment on whether a new charge of non-lethal strangulation should be introduced, saying it was a policy issue for the State Government, but he understood why it was included in the report.




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