Solicitor backs call for more court resources
SOLICITOR Joanne Madden has backed a call to increase family court resources in Rockhampton after concern was raised about the high case load in Central Queensland.
Ms Madden (pictured), principal at Madden Solicitors, spoke to The Morning Bulletin yesterday after an article published in The Australian revealed judges travelling to regional areas were "overwhelmed" with cases.
Rockhampton was listed, alongside Lismore and Parramatta in New South Wales, as an area where the case load was so great practitioners believed a permanent judge should be appointed.
Judge Michael Baumann, the national case coordinator for the Federal Circuit Court of Australia, told The Morning Bulletin that Rockhampton was "extremely busy".
Currently, family law disputes are heard in Rockhampton by a Federal Circuit Court of Australia judge.
Ms Madden said there were six one-week circuits held in Rockhampton each year.
She said two days of the week would usually be taken up with managing cases, effectively leaving only three days for trials.
Ms Madden said this resulted in trial dates being pushed back, leaving families with more uncertainty.
Judge Baumann said the court used its resources as best it could to meet the demand for judicial services in Rockhampton.
"While the number of cases that come before the court is not necessarily increasing, many cases raise more complex and challenging issues that need to be properly dealt with."
Judge Baumann said it was to have matters dealt with locally as this saved the emotional and financial burden of travelling to somewhere like Brisbane.
"The court also appreciates that the Rockhampton circuit services a wide catchment area including Gladstone and Emerald, and the distances that people have to travel, even to Rockhampton, to have their matters heard," Judge Baumann said.
Ms Madden said Rockhampton needed more circuits or the appointment of a permanent judge.
She compared the city to Cairns, which has a permenant judge, and said the same number of applications were being made in Rockhampton.