The Magistrates Court of Western Australia is failing to manage an increasing level of family and domestic violence-related matters, leaving victims exposed at a time when they are most vulnerable, a parliamentary committee has found. (ABC)
According to the report, in 2018 there were 37 family violence-related homicides in WA, the largest number reported of all states that year. Applications for family violence related restraining orders are up 38% in two years. Aboriginal women are 45 times more likely to be victims of family violence.
The report entitled Opening Doors to Justice – supporting victims by improving the management of family and domestic violence matters in the Magistrates Court of Western Australia, was released in August 2020.
The report’s recommendations included:
- the appointment of additional magistrates in the Magistrates Court of Western Australia and Children’s Court of Western Australia
- comprehensive and ongoing family and domestic violence training for all magistrates to assist them in their decision making in family and domestic violence related matters
- magistrates hearing family and domestic violence matters are supported to become experts in the area by participating in additional training
- magistrates and court staff participate in cultural awareness training as well as vicarious trauma training
- increase in funding for duty lawyer services to ensure that all applicants and respondents can access legal advice and representation.
- increase in funding to support delivery of services to victims of family and domestic violence
- funding a wide range of culturally diverse information materials for court users, with a particular focus on matters involving family and domestic violence.
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