We need family violence community lawyers in every Queensland Magistrates court, Brisbane women at-risk of

Community Law Australia visited Brisbane’s Women’s Legal Service today as part of their campaign to address the access to justice crisis.

Family violence takes an enormous toll in Queensland, where domestic violence accounts for 44 per cent of homicides.

Community Law Australia spokesperson Carolyn Bond said that the prevalence of family violence issues was a main driver behind the campaign’s call for a targeted family violence community lawyer in every Magistrates’ Court across the country.

“We are calling for a range of measures to address what we see as a crisis in access to justice. Community legal centres across the country are facing high levels of demand for their services, and unless we act to increase access to justice – people will continue to miss out.

“We are talking about people from all walks of life. Those in regional and remote areas, renters, consumers of financial services and flood or fire victims can all find themselves with problems – but can’t always get the legal help they need.

“Vulnerable women who are seeking legal help to separate from an abusive relationship are a group that CLCs across the country recognise as at high-risk of missing out.

Women’s Legal Service Queensland Coordinator Rosslyn Monro said that the facts spoke for themselves.

“The cost of domestic violence has been estimated at $ 13.6 billion per year to the Australian economy, and in Queensland family violence accounts for 44% of homicides – Sadly, more women are killed by their partners in Queensland than in any other state.

“Women’s Legal Service helps 3,000 women each year, but we estimate that another 16,000 women miss out on the legal help they need.

“Family violence is currently one of the biggest problems facing Queenslanders, and increased funding and better resources are needed to provide access to the legal system.

“We provide a duty lawyer service at Holland Park Magistrates’ Court one day a week, but not every court has the same degree of coverage with a dedicated community lawyer or facilities to assist them,” said Ms Monro.

Community Law Australia spokesperson Carolyn Bond added: “Regional courts are a particular target where access to legal help is poor. We’d like to see this change as part of our broader five-point plan to increase access to justice.

“A recent State Government review stated there are identifiable geographical gaps or pressure points in the delivery of legal assistance services across Queensland (Review of the allocation of funds from the Legal Practitioner Interest on Trust Accounts Fund report, Dec 2012.)

“Our plan calls for a range of initiatives that will help to improve access to justice for people that find themselves in legal trouble – for problems as diverse as debt, workplace bullying, family violence, consumer issues and tenancy,” said Ms Bond.

Community Law Australia’s plan to increase access to justice is as follows:

For more information or to arrange an interview with Carolyn Bond or Rosslyn Monro, please contact media officer Anaya Latter on 0432 121 636.

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