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Saturday, April 13, 2024

First NT domestic violence court opens

The Northern Territory’s first specialised domestic violence court has opened in Alice Springs to better support vulnerable survivors as they navigate the justice system.

Alice Springs Local Court has been given a $15 million facelift as part of the project, meaning victims of domestic violence will no longer have to come face-to-face with perpetrators as their matters proceed through the courts.

The new facilities provide a dedicated court with a dedicated judge, Judge Meredith Day Huntingford, to hear family violence matters and facilitate a faster and more specialised family violence justice process.

“Domestic and family violence rates in Central Australia are among the highest in the nation,” said Attorney-General and Minister for Justice, Selena Uibo.

“It is imperative that the Northern Territory justice system provides a safe and supportive environment for victims and survivors of domestic and family violence to enable the courts to hold perpetrators to account.

“The Territory Labor Government has invested in this multi-million dollar overhaul of the Alice Springs Local Court to provide specialist infrastructure that enables victims to go through the court process without the added stress of coming face-to-face with defendants.

“This is a significant investment to ensure that the Territory’s most vulnerable, particularly children, can access the high quality court and domestic violence services they deserve and to ensure that those who do the wrong thing face the consequences.”

She said the refurbishment also provided greater accessibility to domestic violence support services for victims.

Among the additions to the court that will facilitate a less traumatic court experience for victims are a separate entrance and waiting areas, and a court room where the victim cannot see or be seen by the defendant.

“A dedicated domestic violence court has been a long time coming and is a welcome development for Alice Springs and Central Australia,” said Women’s Safety Services of Central Australia CEO, Larissa Ellis.

“The new facilities will provide a significant improvement in the court experience for survivors and victims of family violence and will hopefully empower more vulnerable victims to follow matters through the courts.”

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