Queensland Chief Justice Tim Carmody
Queensland Chief Justice Tim Carmody Chris Ison

Domestic violence the "issue of our time" says Chief Justice

QUEENSLAND Chief Justice Tim Carmody has seen first-hand the devastating effects domestic violence has on women, men, children and families during his legal career spanning more than three decades.

He believes domestic violence is the "biggest social issue of our time" and more measures are needed to break the vicious cycle, including classroom-based education.

RELATED: Carmody supports courts for domestic violence courts

Justice Carmody, talking exclusively to APN Newsdesk, said he supported the embedding of respectful relationships programs in schools, highlighting issues of domestic violence - but he warned it could take a generation to see the results.

"A problem ignored is a problem doubled," he said.

"Any of the false notions that are created by what is normal in their home needs to be tested against what is actually normal.

"In dysfunctional families, you see role modelling where children come to believe that aggression and violent responses are not only acceptable, but acceptable natural responses.

"You can also see inter-generational repetition, not only in the choice of partners, but life choices as well.

"Children need to be given another point of reference; we have to show them there are other choices and that there are services available to them."

The Chief Justice said not only was this information important at an early age, but delivering it through schools was a good preventative mechanism that was relatively cheap.

"Education is more than formal studies; it's about learning about life and how to live a good and decent life," he said.

"The main problem is we address the symptoms (of family violence) but rarely do we deal with the root causes.
"The problem certainly crosses all boundaries ... it does not discriminate."


Justice Carmody said another challenge in tackling domestic and family violence was whether the community was willing to allow more state intervention on the issue.

He said the real dilemma facing decision makers was finding the right balance between prevention and intervention.

"There is a very narrow role for the state to interfere with, or intervene in, family life," he said.

"It works well if there is no reason for the state to intervene, but by the time the state has the lawful authority to intervene it is often too late to prevent harm.

"But in our society, protection is probably the best we can hope for, unless we want to shift the rules and say the state can intervene on the basis of suspicion.

"But how does the state intervene at the right time? Not too early, not too late, not too little or not too much?"

Justice Carmody said a growing number of matters coming before the state's courts had a domestic violence element.

He said there was no easy solution to the issue, but believed the current intervention policies were not working.

"What we are essentially doing is working out how to manage risk in a way that is sustainable and socially, morally and legally acceptable within society," he said.

"If the intervention worked, you would not see the same people rebounding into the system and you would not see them being violent towards their next partner.

"You get these cycles that need to be broken. To be effective in addressing this issue we need to break that cycle."



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