I WANT TO STOP ABUSE
Meet the judge who vows to end violence
THE judge at the coalface of Queensland’s domestic violence epidemic says the trial of a specialised cou r t presents an opportunity for the state to eliminate this social scourge. In an exclusive interview with The Courier-Mail, Magistrate Colin Strofield, who will head the trial of the specialised Southport domestic court in September, said the six-month initiative in the busiest region for domestic violence could create “generational change”.
“Now it’s up to us to decide what footprint we leave, and here’s our chance,” he said. “What I hope to see at the end of the pilot is to be able to say to the Government: ‘ Here’s a model that you might be able to apply all over the state’.”
Mr Strofield (left) said he hoped the trial would create a basic court model, but changes would be needed for regional and rural courts.
The introduction of specialised domestic violence courts is just one of the recommendations to come out of former governor-general Quentin Bryce’s review of domestic violence in Queensland.
Mr Strofield praised Ms Bryce’s work, saying the report she spearheaded gave the state a chance to make sweeping social changes.
Mr Strofield currently presides over Holland Park Magistrates Court. His courtroom deals with domestic violence matters every Wednesday.
The magistrate of almost eight years said it was important to give victims a chance to be heard.
“If you are in fear of domestic violence and you are alone with nowhere to go, what is that doing to you psychologically, and what is that doing to the children involved?” he said.
“Sometimes you speak to people at the Bar table and they are trembling, or they are crying. They are genuinely in fear … they have a feeling of hopelessness.”
Mr Strofield said he would be firm with alleged
Magistrate Colin Strofield perpetrators but would not be harsher than usual in his decisions.
“I don’t believe anyone is a bad person. People make mistakes, people make choices,” he said.
Mr Strofield said support for reforms to quash domestic violence across the state was monumental, and it was important the community was involved.
“The court is well placed because it’s got the ability to drive things, but we can’t do it on our own,” he said. “We are only part of it ... It’s got to be everybody involved.” PHONE 1800 737 732 FOR DOMESTIC FAMILY COUNSELLING, INFORMATION AND SUPPORT.