Caboolture Courthouse is known as the house of pain particularly on Thursdays as this is when all Domestic Violence (DV) matters are heard.
As this court takes in Bribie and surrounds it is worth knowing how it all works and what is happening in our community on DV.
Local men’s support volunteers report a constant flow of cases from our area and refer many men to the Men Choosing Change program for offenders to try to reverse this trend.
The Centre Against Domestic Abuse CADA workers focus on the victims and assist them cope with the many problems associated with abuse such as homelessness, financial stress, legal issues and mental and physical health.
Both groups see the effects of drugs such as ICE in the community causing family break up and violence. PTSD also contributes as well as poverty and family history of abuse warping what some see as normal in domestic relationships.
A typical DV Thursday at the court sees a full waiting room (COVID rules apply) by 830 am waiting their 9am appearance before the Magistrate. Unaware that everyone in the room has been summoned at the same time they think they’ll be home for morning smoko. That’s the first shock as they realise they could easily be waiting till 3 pm for their case to be called. Quick call to work to cry off sick adds to the anxiety and stress.
A list of people wanting to see the duty lawyer is drawn up by DV volunteers and workers and information brochures are distributed to the waiting clients. As they emerge from their 20 minute free consultation by the lawyers the realisation that the Police will not drop the matter even if they have reconciled sets in.
Police call names to establish who has turned up and who have not (they are deal with “ex parte” in their absence and it usually doesn’t go well). Those who are present are told by Police not to ask for the matter to be dropped as the answer will be no, not to ask if they can duck out for a smoke or coffee (see ex parte above for answer) and not to eye ball or approach the other party in the waiting room.
Security guards check for weapons or other contraband and generally handle the trouble makers, the bad and the mad. Support workers comfort the anxious, hungry, homeless, addicted and angry and give advice on local social services.
Finally their names are called and they go in with their lawyer if they want one or alone if not. Support workers advise them where to stand, to turn their phone off, take their sunnies off their head and refrain from calling the judge “mate” or even on occasion “your majesty”. Your Honour is the go and interrupting is not advisable but happens regularly.
Hard truths are told to perpetrators, orders are made protecting victims including for good behaviour, staying away from people, premises and not locating or communicating on the internet or by other means. These orders normally last 5 years and breaking the order results in fines and or prison.
The complexities include visitation with children, recovery of property, ownership of premises and family occasions like birthdays and Christmas. Orders can accommodate these where appropriate by way of a text or email from the victim allowing access which can be revoked by another text or email.
All types of people are affected, young, old, heterosexual and homosexual couples, fathers, sons, mothers, daughters, sisters and brothers as conflict happens at all these levels.
The definition of DV is broad and even includes damaging your own property in front of others or shouting within earshot of children exposing them to DV.
Volunteers hear all sorts of stories and meet all sorts from ex bank robbers to bikies to silly young blokes who can’t handle the drink or drugs. Trying to help them all equally is a challenge and can sometimes be unappreciated but one man changing his ways means one less life destroyed by DV and often many more.
Some of the worst cases involved harm or attempted harm to children, attempted murder, murder and torture both physically and mentally. Social isolation and financial dependence are some of the controlling behaviour used by the abuser. Fear, control and blame is their MO.
In 2007, 17% of women and 5.3% of men surveyed reported experiencing violence by a partner. Only around 36% of women who have been physically assaulted report the assault to Police.
Indigenous statistics indicate they are 4.6 times more likely to experience domestic violence than their non-indigenous counterparts.
In 2006/7, 22% of all homicides in Australia were intimate partner homicides equalling 71 homicides that year. Only 43% of intimate partner homicides have a family violence history involving Police prior to the homicide.
There are particular times that increase the risk of intimate partner violence and these include during pregnancy and during the separation processes. Women generally are more at risk of violence in their home than in any other setting in society.
Common reasons victims of domestic violence return to a violent relationship include financial reasons, social isolation, community backlash, children’s needs, love for the perpetrator, lack of alternatives and lack of knowledge about options.
In 2021-22 the estimated annual economic cost of family violence in Australia will be $3.9B.1
Look out for signs of this behaviour amongst friends and relatives and don’t turn a blind eye to DV.
Help can be obtained by calling DV connect on 1800 811 811