The first budget under Queensland’s Labor government promises to reintroduce specialist courts and provide increased funding for young offender and domestic violence programs.
Under the new budget, $8.7 million has been earmarked for the reinstatement of specialist courts, including the Murri Court, the Special Circumstances Court and the Drug Court, which were cut in 2012 under Premier Campbell Newman.
State Treasurer Curtis Pitt has also pledged $23.6 million over four years to reinstate court-based referrals to Youth Justice Conferencing.
“The reinstatement of specialist courts is an opportunity to divert offenders from prison by providing them with opportunities to address their offending behaviour through intervention,” the budget papers state.
The move was welcomed by Queensland Law Society president Michael Fitzgerald, who suggested it was in line with the society's recommendations in the run-up to the January election.
Under the budget, the Sentencing Advisory Council will also be reinstated, at a cost of $5.5 million over three years.
The Budget Papers show the council will be tasked with educating the community about the justice system and collating statistical data about sentencing and sentencing practices.
“Educating the community about Queensland law, justice matters and the legal system is an important feature of responsible government,” Mr Fitzgerald said.
“Misinformation and misunderstanding can lead to community fears and assumptions that are simply not supported by the facts.”
Domestic violence has also been highlighted as a priority of the Palaszczuk government, with $3 million over four years pledged to implement recommendations of the Special Taskforce on Domestic and Family Violence Report.
These recommendations included the trial of a special domestic violence court on the Gold Coast, which Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk last month announced would go ahead.