Specialist Domestic and Family Violence Court

Final Report of the most recent evaluation

Released 17 June 2022

The Specialist DFV Court at Southport became Queensland’s first permanent specialist DFV court after a trial period of almost two years, commencing 1 September 2015.

The trial incorporated elements of other successful Australian and international specialist court models.

The outcomes of the trial informed the establishment of future work in developing a specialist approach to the way DFV proceedings are dealt with the courts across Queensland, including the establishment of specialist DFV courts in Townsville and Beenleigh.

The rollout of the specialist DFV courts was staged over three years (2018 to 2020) and all specialist DFV courts are now operational with Townsville, Beenleigh and Mount Isa offering a culturally responsive approach for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander court users.

A further evaluation of the Southport specialist DFV court has been conducted over the period 2017-2021.

Read the Final Report which is located below or download it here.

Final Report of the most recent evaluation

Released 17 June 2022

Specialist DFV court model

The specialist DFV court model is working towards the coordination of civil and criminal matters in each location.  In locations where these matters are coordinated, dedicated magistrates hear both criminal and civil DFV related matters. The Palm Island specialist DFV court operates as a circuit of the Townsville specialist DFV court.

Renovations to the Southport, Beenleigh, and Townsville courthouses have taken place to provide new DFV courtrooms, secure and comfortable waiting areas with direct access to the courtrooms, a specialist DFV court registry so the court officers can help parties with their queries in a quiet environment and sufficiently sound proofed meeting rooms for parties to meet with their duty lawyers and support services prior to court. Renovations to facilities in Palm Island commenced in 2022.

Specialist DFV courts offer

  • a dedicated magistrate with specific training, knowledge and experience in DFV matters
  • a Department of Justice and Attorney-General court coordinator to oversee court operations and the continuous improvement of the model, including stakeholder engagement
  • a specialist DFV court registry where specialist court staff are trained to offer support and information to people experiencing domestic and family violence
  • dedicated prosecutors
  • duty lawyers to provide advice and representation for both parties
  • court support workers for the aggrieved
  • support/liaison workers for the respondents
  • access to domestic and family violence perpetrator programs

Another key component of the specialist DFV court approach is collaboration between stakeholders including the Queensland Police Service, Legal Aid Queensland, Queensland Corrective Services, Victim Assist Queensland and other non-government service providers who are funded by the Office for Women and Violence Prevention, Department of Justice & Attorney General, the Department of Children, Youth Justice and Multicultural Affairs as well as other non-government service providers who deliver critical support to people involved in DFV proceedings.

The following video explains more about the integrated services and specialist approach during the DFV court’s trial period at Southport

Support for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander DFV court users

The Specialist DFV Courts in Townsville, Beenleigh and Mount Isa are supported by the Community Justice Groups (CJGs) in those locations. The Palm Island CJG also provides support for the operation of the circuiting Specialist DFV Court.

CJG support in these locations may include assisting in transporting people to and from court for court appearances, linking people with programs and, assisting in ensuring people understand the court process and any orders that are made.

To find out more about Community Justice Groups you can visit the Queensland Courts website.