Specialised DV Magistrate speaks at White Ribbon Event
SOUTHPORT Magistrate Colin Strofield was in Yeppoon today to deliver a speech on domestic violence; and it wasn't just because CQ has one of the worst rates in the state.
The specialist DV magistrate, who spoke at yesterday's White Ribbon Lunch, said he jumped at the chance to come to the region.
"The figures that I have is that for the number of (DV) applications, Rocky is sadly in the top ten... but the reason I came here is that if I could help in any way at all, I am more than happy to do that," he said.
"I am going to share some of the experiences I have had in my time before becoming a magistrate, and as a magistrate, and explain to people what is happening at Southport and what makes it different to how the court has been operating the past few years."
Mr Strofield has been presiding as one of two specialist magistrates in the Southport court since September 1 this year, after it was granted a six month trial following the implementation of recommendations from Quentin Bryce's Not Now Not Ever report on domestic violence in Queensland.
The court features a sped up application process, specialised prosecutors, lawyers and a dedicated registry.
So far, Mr Strofield said it has been extremely successful.
"It took a little while for us to get something where we were comfortable with the model that we had, but we were all surprised with how the volume of applications have increased," he said.
"The figures have increased 59% since this time last year. So we are now seeing around about 96 new applications each and every week.
"The increase is because people are now realising there is a place to go... it is very positive. It is a sad reflection but I think it is a positive that people have a place where their voice can be heard."
Mr Strofield said if there was one thing the numbers could teach us, it was that no one has a "true handle" on how much domestic violence occurs within Australian homes.
He was hopeful, however, that it could be kerbed in our lifetime.
"I think it is a problem but thankfully people like Quintin Bryce and Rosie Batty have, in my view, shone a very bright light on a very dark room," he said.
"Di Mangan from DV Connect tells a wonderful story... of going to the Tangalooma whaling station when it was operational; that doesn't happen anymore. I love to think that domestic violence could be our Tangalooma."
The specialist DV court continues to run on a trial-basis, and it is not yet known if the model will be adopted state-wide.