Going to court can be a very intimidating experience for a Woman who comes into contact with an angry spouse. At some courts there are domestic violence court assistance workers. These workers may be attached to the local domestic violence service or community centre, or may be volunteers (sometimes survivors of domestic violence themselves) who are responding to the need in their local area. Court assistance workers may assist women with completing protection order application forms, and advise the Woman on the important things to include in her application and how to word it appropriately for the Magistrate. They can provide information and support throughout the court process. A Woman should contact her local Magistrates court to find out if there is a domestic violence court assistance worker at that court to assist her.
The Women’s Domestic Violence Court Assistance Service provides free and confidential assistance for all women who attend court for domestic and family violence matters.
Their workers can:
•help you access the court’s safety facilities
•explain about Protection Orders, their conditions and what to do if an order is breached
•help to complete an application for Protection Order
•explain the court process
•provide you with support and information in court and throughout court process
•assist you with completing applications for legal aid
•advocate on your behalf with the police prosecutor, court staff and other.
Legal Aid Queensland
44 Herschel Street
Brisbane Qld 4000
Ph: (07) 3238 3562
Fax: (07) 3238 3927
•Brisbane Magistrates Court
Level 6, 363 George Street
Brisbane Qld 4000
Ph: (07) 3247 5437
For more information about the Women’s Domestic Violence Court Assistance Service
Safety in court
Under the Domestic Violence (Family Protection) Act, a court hearing an application for a protection order is not open to the public. The court may open the proceedings to the public or specified persons in certain circumstances. Generally, the respondent is not allowed to have family or friends present, as they may be used to further intimidate the Woman during the court process. However, under the Act, “an aggrieved spouse is entitled to have a person with them throughout the proceedings to provide support and other assistance”.
There are safety protocols for courts. If a Woman feels that she will be in any danger from her partner while attending court then it is best to talk with the court staff prior to the court date so that arrangements can be made for her safety.