Ballarat specialist family violence court to promote safety

Ballarat specialist family violence court to promote safety

Tuesday, 10 December 2019

Victoria Legal Aid and court staff at the opening of the Ballarat Specialist Family Violence Court
Regional Managing Lawyer Natalie Heynes (centre) with partners from the Magistrates' Court of Victoria, Ballarat & Grampians Community Legal Centre, Court Network and Victoria Police.

The state’s second, dedicated specialist family violence court (SFVC) has opened in Ballarat with new facilities designed to improve the safety of people attending court.

‘We strongly support the creation of the SFVCs as an important tool in keeping our community safe, and ensuring people who use family violence are accountable for their actions,’ said Natalie Heynes, VLA’s regional managing lawyer in Ballarat.

The safe waiting facilities in Ballarat were officially opened by the Attorney-General, Jill Hennessy, at an event including the Minister for the Prevention of Family Violence, Gabrielle Williams, the chief magistrate of Victoria, Judge Lisa Hannan, and Magistrates Felicity Broughton and Noreen Toohey.

Judge Hannan acknowledged the ‘incredibly important role’ police and legal assistance providers play in ensuring court staff at SFVCs can provide the community with an improved response to family violence.

Deputy Chief Magistrate Broughton said the goal of the SFVCs was to ensure ‘families leave the court safer than when they arrived.’

We will be introducing new client-focused legal services for the specialist courts alongside new court management practices implemented by the Magistrates’ Court of Victoria in 2020. This has been enabled by additional state government funding to provide legal services to clients in support of the specialist courts.

Our services will emphasise the importance of doing no harm, trauma-informed help and a better court experience, as well as ensuring people who use violence have access to services aimed at changing behaviour and addressing the underlying causes of their offending.

Victoria’s first SFVC was opened in Shepparton in October, with courts at Moorabbin, Frankston and Heidelberg to open in 2020.

More information

Read more about the role of specialist courts in creating a safer community.

Read more about the way we are using client feedback to design legal services.

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