More resources need to be poured into the program, say lawyers. Photo: istock
More resources need to be poured into the program, say lawyers. Photo: istock

Shocking wait times for domestic violence rehab

SPOUSE beaters have to wait up to 18 months to start a course aimed at stopping their behaviour because the domestic violence rehabilitation program is full.

There is an average delay of about four months just to get on the program's waiting list and then perpetrators have to wait months for a spot to open up.

The wait has left lawyers calling for more resources for the State Government-funded course.

But a spokeswoman for the Department of Child Safety, Youth and Women called the demand "encouraging".

Domestic violence offenders have to wait about four months to get on the wait list. Picture: iStock / Getty Images
Domestic violence offenders have to wait about four months to get on the wait list. Picture: iStock / Getty Images

The 16-week program is designed for men and women convicted or accused of domestic violence and aims to provide them with conflict resolution skills and anger management, and to help them understand the consequences of abusive behaviour.

The course is either ordered by a magistrate or demanded as a part of parole and probation conditions.

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Buckland Allen Criminal Lawyers partner Jodi Allen said the course was under strain for months due to the sheer volume of people ordered to undergo the program.

"There needs to be more resources for that program," she said.

The course was only two or three hours a week for four months but all slots in the classes were filled quickly, she said.

Ms Allen said programs were an important part of rehabilitating convicted abusers to help prevent them from returning to violent ways.

"Some of them are getting halfway through their probation orders and getting nothing out of it because everyone is saying we can't teach you anything," she said.

Ms Allen said one man recently tried to consent to a domestic violence prevention order but was told he could not until the course was completed.

Places fill immediately on the course program.
Places fill immediately on the course program.

That meant a temporary protection order was put in place and the man would have to return to court in 12 months for the permanent order.

The move put his former partner in limbo, not knowing if the man would still agree to consent to the order when the matter returned to court.

A man accused of cutting his partner's face with a knife in the early hours of New Year's Day had been waiting since August last year to complete the course as part of his parole conditions, the Southport Magistrates Court was told.
He was recently told the earliest he could take the course was April this year despite having breached a domestic violence order six times.

 

Howden Saggers Lawyers partner Dave Garratt said multiple clients were waiting months to take part in the course.

Mr Garratt said another man was told last month he had to wait until July 2020 to complete the course.

"Some of these guys are keen as hell to do the courses but they are having a long wait for it," he said.

Mr Garratt said magistrates were ordering the program as a part of probation but many simply could not complete the program due to the long wait list.

A Department of Child Safety, Youth and Women spokeswoman said the "encouraging" demand showed the court and community recognised the importance of prevention through behavioural change.

"We are continuing to review demand for the programs and are looking at ways using available funds to better meet this demand," she said.

The spokeswoman said the department was also evaluating the effectiveness of the program.



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