Special court for family violence

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A SPECIALIST family violence court to be established in Frankston is among a raft of state budget measures that MP Paul Edbrooke says “commit more to the prevention of family violence than the whole nation put together”.

The new court – expected to be at the magistrates’ court in Fletcher Rd – was included in a $1.9 billion package to tackle family violence across the state. Other similar courts will be established at Ballarat, Shepparton, Moorabbin and Heidelberg magistrates’ courts at a cost of $90 million over five years.

“There’s no sugar coating the fact that we are confronted with a terrible family violence issue in our community and we can choose to bury our heads or treat it,” Mr Edbrooke said.

“I choose to treat it and this investment is part of a coordinated response towards ensuring everyone can feel safe in their own home.”

Mr Edbrooke said the family violence court would be a “lifesaver”.

“We know that we are over-represented in this area and this, and the proposed support and safety hubs, are going to make a difference.”

A function of the courts will be to “enhance safety and accessibility for victim survivors,” budget papers said.

“The funding will also ensure that the facilities in these courts are equipped with a range of interventions to challenge perpetrator behaviour and hold them to account.”

Frankston mayor Cr Brian Cunial, a serving Victoria Police officer, welcomed a dedicated family violence court in Frankston.

“It is an unfortunate reality that Frankston experiences the highest rate of family violence call outs in metropolitan Melbourne.”

A support and safety hub will be established later this year.

Designed as a central point for information, triage and access for those experiencing family violence, the hub will cater to victim survivors and their friends and family, and be an access point for doctors, teachers and police.

At the hub, additional training on preventing and responding to family violence will be given to mental health, alcohol and drug, and child protection workers.

The capacity of the coroner’s court to investigate family violence-related deaths will also be expanded.

In other state budget measures:

More than 68,000 extra cases of assistance will be provided to victim survivors of family violence for crisis and case management support, and specialist family violence support, across the state.

Face-to-face after-hours crisis support will be expanded, and funding will continue to support the 24/7 telephone-based-crisis service.

Victims of family violence will receive 11,000 additional cases of assistance for counselling and therapeutic support to aid their recovery.

Thirteen family violence refuges will be redeveloped to move to the ‘core and cluster’ model by 2020. About 4000 men who perpetrate violence against women will have access to voluntary places in behaviour change programs.

First published in the Mornington News – 9 May 2017

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