APN campaign ushers in family violence courts

APN campaign ushers in family violence courtsThe Queensland Government has announced it will trial one of the measures campaigned for by APN's regional newspapers

A multimillion-dollar trial to set up specialist domestic violence courts is a significant win for a campaign run by APN’s regional titles.

The Terror At Home campaign has been run for four months to put pressure on the Queensland government to set up the special courts.

Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk announced on Tuesday a $31 million package of anti-domestic violence measures. “She knew of the campaign, she was aware of our goals,” editorial director Bryce Johns said.

Mr Johns presented Ms Palaszczuk with a petition with 2500 signatures in May backing their calls for reform.

Terror At Home was run by APN’s 12 daily and 60 community titles in Queensland and northern NSW.

“It’s very easy for the Mackay Daily Mercury to influence what goes on in that town, but it’s a lot more difficult for it to do it statewide, and as a group the ARM newspapers have gone about their own devices for probably a little too long,” Mr Johns said.

“Our products get in front of the eyeballs of one in two people in Queensland who live outside of Brisbane.

“So it’s very influential and it’s to the reader’s benefit that politicians know that and it’s to our commercial partners’ benefits that they know how wide a reach we have.”

The court trial is set to start in September and could hear as many as 50 matters every day.

This is not the end of the line for Terror At Home, which will continue to push for mandatory “respectful relationship” classes in schools and will campaign to ensure the trial is run properly and then made permanent.

“We strongly believe that the court system is ambulance at the bottom of the cliff stuff, and getting into schools, making people aware of the problem, making children aware of how to deal with anger in those situations will prevent anyone falling off the cliff,” Mr Johns said.

“And that’s where, over time, the focus needs to switch.”

The company’s group content editor Christina Ongley previously told The Newspaper Works the campaign had also been successful in less measurable ways.

“We had a lot of people either talk directly to me or to our editors to say thank goodness someone’s finally standing up for this issue and sharing their stories. We also had a number of our own colleagues email us and say ‘this has happened to me as well, it’s really important that you guys are campaigning on this’,” Ms Ongley said.

Other measures contained in the package announced by the Queensland government are the establishment of an independent domestic violence death review unit, an expanded domestic violence service at Legal Aid Queensland and two more crisis shelters.

For more news from The Newspaper Works, click here.

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