Women waiting 10 months for domestic violence court cases in Camden

Fight for justice: Macarthur Women's Domestic Violence Court Advocacy Service members Sesilia Large, Tanya Whitehouse and Lisa Stark. Picture: Chris Lane
Fight for justice: Macarthur Women's Domestic Violence Court Advocacy Service members Sesilia Large, Tanya Whitehouse and Lisa Stark. Picture: Chris Lane

Macarthur women fighting for their safety are being forced to wait almost a year to have their domestic violence cases heard in court.

And it doesn't look like things will be getting better any time soon.

Macarthur Women's Domestic Violence Court Advocacy Service coordinator Tanya Whitehouse said it was "just ridiculous" that apprehended domestic violence order (ADVO) hearings at Camden Local Court were now being scheduled for as far away as June 2020.

"If it is taking women 10 months to get their ADVO finalised, is the justice system really working in the best way it can to protect the victims of domestic violence," she said.

"It is the Chief Magistrate's direction that matters should be finalised within three months, and I understand that to be best practice.

"Ten months is just ridiculous."

Ms Whitehouse has been calling for greater resources in Camden and Macarthur for years and is frustrated that there has been little movement from the government.

"There has been extensive campaigning for a multi-jurisdictional justice precinct in the south-west, which would help not only the domestic violence cases but also family court, where I know the wait can be years," she said.

"But I'm not sure if this is a priority for the government, which it absolutely should be.

"I'm disappointed to see the lack of response from the government."

ADVO cases are only heard at Camden Local Court once a fortnight, despite the rapidly growing population in the region.

Ms Whitehouse said she feared the slow pace would give locals a negative view of the justice system.

"People are waiting 10 months to finalise their matters - that's both victims and defendants," she said.

"That's a long time to wait on both sides and it disadvantages everyone.

"Nobody is winning in this situation.

"Unfortunately this effects the most vulnerable people in our community.

"I'm wondering what impact the extent of this waiting process has on people's view of the justice system."

NSW Attorney General and Minister for the Prevention of Domestic Violence Mark Speakman said he was still looking into improving court services.

"Work continues in the Department of Communities and Justice to identify priority areas for further development of justice infrastructure, including south-west Sydney," he said.

Mr Speakman said police had the power to impose ADVOs "where urgent protection is required".

"These protections remain in place until a final hearing and beyond in the event the court imposes and order," he said.

Some hearings, if required, can be moved to Moss Vale or Campbelltown courts.