SA expands bench to cope with family violence rate
South Australia has created a new magistrate’s position as the state struggles to deal with the volume of family violence matters that go to list.
John Cardale Wells has been appointed as magistrate in South Australia. The state government said that it created the bench vacancy, which Mr Wells took on last month, in response to a “growing volume of cases involving family violence matters”.
Mr Wells has been appointed to lead the Early Resolution Court in Adelaide. He joins the bench from the Director of Public Prosecutions, where he previously managed a group of solicitors.
The new magistrate has formerly worked for the Adelaide Committal Unit, the Attorney-General’s Department and the Legal Services Commission.
Mr Wells will hear applications for intervention orders and related criminal charges, and is “available for any magistracy duties to enhance the capacity of the Family Violence Courts,” a statement from the A-G’s department statement said.
According to the department, 8,417 incidents of domestic violence in South Australia had been reported in 2015 alone. It added that the state has seen reporting numbers grow as awareness about the issue improves.
SA Attorney-General John Rau underscored the state’s need for an additional magistrate to tackle what he described as a “blight on the community”.
“Having an extra position in the magistracy to enhance the management of Family Violence Lists is a significant step forward,” Mr Rau said.
“I also take this opportunity to congratulate John Wells on his appointment and wish him every success.”
An additional $353,000 (indexed) has been committed by the state government on an annual basis to expand the SA Women’s Domestic Violence Court Assistance Service.
“Recent reforms to intervention orders took effect in December 2015, including giving courts the sentencing power to require perpetrators of domestic violence to bear the costs of an intervention program if convicted of breaching an order and requiring courts to inquire about any other relevant orders under the Family Law Act or Children’s Protection Act,” the department said.