THE Newcastle Domestic Violence Committee has called on the government to help abuse survivors feel safer in Local Court and to provide police with more resources, training and support to respond to cases.
The committee made its submission to the House Standing Committee on Social Policy and Legal Affairs' inquiry into family, domestic and sexual violence before the window closed last Friday. Newcastle MP Sharon Claydon is deputy chair of the inquiry.
Submission author Meighan Jenkins said NSW had been slow to respond to the domestic and family violence (DFV) crisis, compared to Victoria and Queensland.
She said implementing changes was "not rocket science".
"Giving voice to the experiences of victim-survivors and their children is the NDVC's priority," she said.
"In Newcastle, victim survivors are subjected to ongoing harm as a result of unsupportive reporting and court processes.
"We urge the NSW government to look to our Victorian neighbours' example in addressing these chronic, systemic shortcomings."
Ms Jenkins said Victoria had specialised domestic violence courts, a model of victim-centric policing and a designated Family Violence Centre of Learning at the Victoria Police Academy.
"Newcastle courts could institute specialist DFV list processes for DFV matters, such as morning coordination meetings that review matters coming before the court that day," she said.
"This would ensure that victim survivors can have their matter dealt with as a priority, be assured they are able to safely participate and feel supported.
"Evidentiary affidavits from frontline services could also be included in the prosecution material.
"This would enable our courts to consider contextual information when making orders to protect victim survivors and... their children."
Ms Jenkins said a mandatory minimum level of training for legal practitioners representing or defending matters of DFV was needed and magistrates must get "up to speed".
"There's plenty of research out now that talks to the dynamics of coercive control and technological abuse, but you get before a court and it's like they've been in a bubble - some of the magistrates - for the last 10 years," she said.
'What goes on in court does not replicate what the evidence is now telling us and that's a frustration."
The submission calls for the eventual creation of specialised domestic violence courts in NSW.
It also recommends increasing the number of NSW Police DFV coordinators from two to six in the Northern Region and the number of domestic violence liaison officers in the Newcastle and Lake Macquarie districts from eight to 12.
It proposes enhanced training for general duties officers; for the local service sector to support local police; and the eventual creation of a dedicated NSW Police unit or command responsible for ongoing DFV research, training and monitoring of victims' experiences.
"We want improved channels of communication with the courts and police so that families are supported through the criminal justice system," she said. "People's lives are at stake."
While you're with us, did you know the Newcastle Herald offers breaking news alerts, daily email newsletters and more? Keep up to date with all the local news - sign up here
IN THE NEWS:
- 'Avoid 10 person gatherings': NSW steps up health advice as 14 new cases found
- Malcolm Roberts raises major allegations against coal industry bodies in new video as parties unable to clarify Mount Arthur court case
- Parry Street in Newcastle West closed after fire crews tackle Rahmani Rug Gallery blaze in driving rain