Domestic violence crisis sparks NSW discussion for specialised court to deal with DV matters

Sarina Andaloro
The Nightly
2 Min Read
There are possible moves for NSW to introduce a separate domestic violence court.
There are possible moves for NSW to introduce a separate domestic violence court. Credit: News Regional Media

Discussions are underway within the NSW State government over whether to introduce a separate domestic violence court in a potential bid to reduce pressure on the court system amid a national crisis of violence against women.

Domestic and family matters now comprise about 60 per cent of the matters heard in courts in NSW with more than 30,000 matters finalised each year.

A trial is underway at Blacktown Local Court in Sydney’s northwest with a specialist court dedicated to domestic and family violence matters sitting every Wednesday before a specially trained magistrate.

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Cases heard include a man who had threatened his partner with a bow and arrow and a woman who wanted to reconnect with her abusive husband in jail.

Legal Aid NSW domestic violence unit associate director Anna Baltins said the free legal service needed a funding boost of about half a billion dollars to cope with the overwhelming case load.

“On any given day we have about 60 women waiting to speak to us,” she said.

Outside court a man subject to an apprehended domestic violence order told Seven he was “innocent” before issuing the warning “just be careful”.

Another man said his dad used to beat him, leaving him with black eyes and split lips.

“I’ve seen my mum go through it,” he said.

According to data from the NSW Bureau of Crime Statistics and Research, the most commonly prosecuted domestic violence offence was assault, with 12,247 recorded last year.

The next highest was intimidation and stalking, with 7078 offences, then restraining order breaches (5752) and destruction of property (1440).

Sydney’s Downing Centre in the CBD resolved the most domestic and family violence matters with 1668 cases followed by Parramatta, 1287 cases, and Liverpool, with 1286 cases.

A federal government “rapid review” into domestic and family violence prevention began in Sydney on Tuesday.

Led by Domestic, Family and Sexual Violence Commissioner Micaela Cronin, the panel will consult with the states and territories as well as national violence prevention organisation Our Watch.

The panel is due to report between July and September this year although a final date has yet to be set.

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