Victims of domestic violence should be able to apply online for protection orders which can then be dealt with urgently by judges at any time, a family law expert says.
The system of applying online for a domestic violence order (DVO) which is sent to the Family Court and urgently dealt with by an “E-Judge”, or electronic judge, is currently operating in New Zealand.
Jennifer Hetherington, from family law firm Hetherington Legal, says this system would be perfect for Australia.
Domestic violence victims in Australia currently have to seek a DVO through a magistrates court, while other matters such as child custody are dealt with by the Family Court.
“Here we have different courts dealing with various aspects of family law issues,” Ms Hetherington said.
“New Zealand has a system of one court for all family law matters and it means there’s also less chance of child protection issues falling between the cracks of the laws.”
She said an online system would allow E-Judges to review all documentation relating to the case anywhere and anytime.
“They could do it at home in their PJs if they wanted to,” she said.
The judge would then fill in the required conditions, hit send, and any orders would instantly be available in the court registry for the victim to collect, she said.
Ms Hetherington said E-Judges in New Zealand were currently assessing and making decisions on up to 100 protection and parenting order applications each day.
“There’s no way we can do that here with our system where each parenting application has to go through the formal court process which in some cases can take weeks to organise,” she said.
“Domestic violence order applications in Queensland take less time but are in a different court and a person in need of protection still needs to go to court to obtain the order – sometimes when they are in really urgent need and time is critical.”
The Queensland government on Tuesday introduced new domestic violence laws to parliament that will give harsher penalties to domestic violence offenders.
Stay Informed. It’s simple, free & convenient!