Forum needed to address domestic violence issues
IN my 36-years of practicing as a lawyer, I will never forget the day when I was woken by my wife to listen to a national news report that Gold Coast woman was missing, and her house burnt to the ground.
I consulted with that woman three days prior to this regarding her separation.
She told the partner on the Sunday evening that their relationship was over and his reaction was to say coldly "you have ruined my life, now I will ruin yours…I'll start with your eldest daughter…".
The woman had sought the assistance from the local police but was told there wasn't enough in it to take out a protection order but if she wanted, she could file her own private application.
She did and she obtained a Temporary Protection Order against him the day after she consulted with me.
Her partner snapped. He was served with the order and on the same day his employment was terminated for an unrelated incident.
He was waiting for her at her home when she returned from work and stabbed her to death.
He burnt the house down and took her body with him, eventually being confronted and caught by the police the following day.
There is often no reasoning in domestic violence of this horrific nature.
As a lawyer, we never forget these cases. It leaves us with a feeling of helplessness.
Last week, we witnessed another horrific act of violence on a suburban Brisbane street that left three children and their mother dead.
This case was heartbreaking to read. It opens all the old wounds.
As lawyers we say to ourselves: "Could we have done more to prevent this?"
But could we do more? It's a severe wake-up call on many fronts.
I was present at the first meeting in 1989 at Law Society House Brisbane when the initial Domestic Violence act was introduced where there was a forum of lawyers and other interested stakeholders.
For the past 21 years I have practiced in the Domestic Violence jurisdiction.
To be honest - things haven't changed for the better, they have only got worse.
I have seen many new initiatives brought into being however the stench of family violence has never been as apparent as it is today.
We, as members of the judicial system must act now to arrest the situation before we witness further senseless acts of Family Violence.
As a community, we need to take action to identify persons at risk and do our bit to try to eliminate family violence.
If you know of a person or persons at risk act now before things get out of hand.
If you are the person who is the victim of family violence do something about it, now, and if you are a perpetrator, do something about your behaviour now and before it gets out of your control.
We need to convene a Family Violence forum in the Tweed/Byron area to not only discuss but implement some positive initiatives to provide adequate support to members of our local community who are either suffering or have suffered family violence.
We also need to find ways to educate those who are guilty of committing acts of family violence.
It is my intention to lobby our local MP for funding to enable the re-introduction of the family violence support organisations in the area and more support for our judicial officers in our local courts so that the backlog of family violence cases can be eliminated.
The current situation is not fair on our Magistrates and Police Prosecutors nor are our courts able to accommodate family violence parties in a safe
environment. Other courts have a "safe room".
The NSW government could take a leaf out of the Queensland Government
initiative in the Southport Magistrates Court when confronting the issue.
The current situation is just not good enough and my concern is that there is a major incident just waiting to happen.
Together we can all make a difference.