Increasing Pressure for Family Court on GC
19th July 2018
Pullos Lawyers is strongly endorsing a renewed campaign to bring the Family and Federal courts to the Gold Coast.
Cassandra Pullos says it’s ridiculous that the Gold Coast, the sixth largest city Australia, can host and contribute to the funding of the Commonwealth Games next year, but residents are not given the badly needed service of a resident Family Court registry.
She says the current arrangement whereby the Federal Circuit Court holds five two-day sessions a year on the Gold Coast do not even scratch the surface of the need here. Cassandra regards the current arrangement of providing a circuit court sitting only on the Gold Coast as “Pathetic and getting worse”.
“The Circuit judges do their very best, in fact they are amazing under very, very difficult circumstances. The need so far outstrips the capacity of one judge, 2 days per month for a total of 5 months a year that the situation for both the Court staff and the clients is now impossible,” she says.
Cassandra says the Gold Coast situation looks all the more ridiculous when compared with the Victorian suburb of Dandenong, near Melbourne which has been serviced by its own Family Court registry for many years.
Central Dandenong has a population of around 29,500, and the Greater Dandenong population is 157,000 compared to the Gold Coast’s 570,000. Dandenong is 34 kms and 37 mins drive from Melbourne and its main Family Court registry. The Gold Coast is 82 kms and 57 mins drive from the main Family Court Registry in Brisbane.
“How can it be justifiable to have full Family Court services in Dandenong and not on the Gold Coast?” Cassandra says.
“As Cr Dawn Crichlow has pointed out, the federal government has stripped several government services from the Gold Coast and given nothing in return.
“What pains us even more is the fact that there was a Family Court registry on the Gold Coast about 25 years ago – even though it was limited to filing and conferences services only. We were campaigning at the time for full Court services but never got them and eventually the limited services that were there shut down.
“So now people have to go to Brisbane and experience the logjam of matters in the courts there on top of the pressures of an often clogged M1 motorway. Gold Coast people deserve better than this,” Cassandra says.
She has dismissed comments from Federal MP for Moncrieff, Stephen Ciobo, who has defended the government, saying the five two-day Federal Circuit Court hearings allocated to the Gold Coast are woefully inadequate.
“They don’t even scratch the surface of the need here. On those two days the Judge has at least 30 matters to deal with each day, and can really only deal with directions and consents and make the most urgent of interim orders. Anything else is then transferred up to Brisbane.
“At all other times parties, and their lawyers, have to travel to Brisbane. I believe the Gold Coast is the largest population centre in Australia by far without a Family Law registry of its own,” Cassandra says.
With the Gold Coast’s growing population, heading toward 570,000 now, the city can no longer be treated like a satellite suburb of Brisbane.
“Officially we are the sixth largest city in Australia and the largest non-capital city in the country but for key government services we are regarded as a rural backwater”.
Family lawyers would strongly endorse business and legal group lobbying to establish a full time Family Court here. The Gold Coast City
Council tried 20 years ago to bring the Family and Federal Courts to the Gold Coast, with the Mal Burke carpark tagged as a development site for the courts complex. But the venture fizzled out.
“The Federal Government talks up the importance of its services to the public but in the area of the Family Court, Gold Coasters are poorly treated by our government. It’s long past the time for change,” Cassandra says.
If you need advice or assistance, call us on 07 5526 3646 or contact us and one of our expert family lawyers will be able to assist you.