Faster family justice


THOSE charged with family violence related crimes will be processed through the courts faster under a new pilot program being rolled out at the Dandenong Magistrates’ Court.
From the start of December last year, the court was given strict timelines to process accused offenders from across the Cardinia, Casey and Dandenong police division which has the highest reported level of family violence police call-outs in the state.
The Family Violence Accelerated Justice Outcomes project will see alleged perpetrators charged and on bail within a week, while those on summons will be made to front court within four weeks in a bid to drive down the climbing number of assaults.
Acting Senior Sergeant Graeme Stanley, who is heavily involved in Cardinia’s Family Violence Prevention unit as well as a Challenge Family Violence ambassador, said combined efforts by police and the judiciary would mean offenders faced the consequences of their actions sooner.
“The reason the trial is being done here is because recidivist offences are growing enormously in the division. It has the largest reported number of family violence incidents in the state,” he said.
“The trial introduces a different approach to tackle high-risk offending and send a message to perpetrators that swift action will be taken against them in the courts.”
According to Senior Sergeant Nathan Prowd, some offenders aren’t processed through the justice system until months after their alleged crime, which does not help to address the issue.
“The theory behind (the program) is to ensure people are brought before the court as soon as possible,” he said.
“If people are going to court to face a hearing a significant time down the track, they may not see family violence as being important and linking that behaviour.
“Getting them to court as early as possible is the best solution to get men to change their behaviour. It sends a strong message.”
The Dandenong Magistrates’ Court is prioritising family violence cases as part of a pilot model which will later be rolled out across the state.
In 2013-’14, there was a 49 per cent state-wide increase in the number of family intervention order applications as opposed to 2008-’09, according to the Magistrates’ Court of Victoria.
In the same timeframe, the number of contraventions against these orders increased by an astounding 284 per cent across Victoria.