When Magistrate Colin Strofield presides over the dedicated domestic violence court at Southport for the first time today it will be with a backlog of 250 matters and a plan to tackle the “scourge” not only on the Gold Coast but across the state.
According to the Queensland Police Service, last financial year there were 4683 domestic violence applications made on the Coast compared to 3349 in 2010.
Nine women have been killed on the Coast alone in the past three years.Magistrate Strofield, 57, has a six-month trial to not only deal with these appalling figures but make a plan for similar dedicated courts to be rolled out statewide.
“It’s a scourge. I liken it to cancer because it doesn’t discriminate,” Magistrate Strofield said.
“There’s no line in the socio-economic calendar. It’s all sorts of people — believe you me, you’d be surprised.
“That’s (the nine dead women) just awful, absolutely dreadful. If we can save one from being assaulted that would be wonderful.
“If we could save one person from losing their life to domestic violence it just has to be done.”
While his eight years as a magistrate have taught him to expect the overwhelming number of people who come before him will be a male perpetrator and female victim, there’ll also be same sex couples and parents living in fear of their adult children.
Magistrate Strofield said he hoped the dedicated court would be another tool to push people to take action.
“When I was a boy, and that was some time ago, you knew that on Friday night there’d be argument, verbal and then physical, because Mr Bloggs had been at work all week … and went to the pub, got a skin full,” he said.
“There’d be an almighty argument and Mrs Bloggs would wear sunglasses for the next two weeks.
“People knew it happened, I knew it happened, but no one did anything about it.
“There’s been some comment about the increasing number of domestic violence applications.
“That’s a good thing in my view because people are starting to talk about it and are doing something about it rather than letting it fester behind closed doors.”
Magistrate Strofield has some tough advice for any would-be perpetrators.