Recently on ABC North Coast Radio, Attwood Marshall Lawyers Family Law Special Counsel, Michael Twohill, was interviewed by Miranda Saunders about his call to establish a dedicated specialist domestic violence police unit and station in the Tweed and Northern New South Wales region.
A Call for Action
First it was the COVID-19 pandemic and countrywide lockdowns, then a health scare and quintuple bypass heart surgery, but for Family Law Special Counsel, Michael Twohill, these serious setbacks will not stop him, and his fellow team of family lawyers at Attwood Marshall Lawyers from fighting for action to do more to protect families experiencing domestic violence, particularly in the Northern New South Wales region.
Just before COVID-19 hit, Michael intended to rally with the Tweed Byron Police Commander and Crime Manager, whom he had met at the Kingscliff Business Chamber of Commerce breakfast, an event he attended regularly to discuss important issues with members of the local community, until COVID put an end to them.
The setback was significant and domestic and family violence-related matters have continued to rage throughout the region.
Mr Twohill is calling for action to establish a dedicated domestic violence police unit in the Northern New South Wales region.
“The time has come to raise the alarm once again. This is something the Queensland Government have announced they will implement after the recent Coroner’s Inquest into the murder of Hannah Clarke and her children. Last week the Coroner made four recommendations requiring immediate attention, including a five-day face-to-face training program for Specialist Domestic Violence Police, as well as the implementation of a specialist Domestic Violence Police Station to be trialled for 12 months in the Logan and Kirwan districts,” explained Mr Twohill.
“Northern New South Wales has been forgotten. Despite the NSW Government investing $43.6 million over four years as part of their budget, the primary focus remains on helping people who have suffered domestic violence and making them feel safe throughout the court process. This is also a vital investment, however, where is the action to help limit and prevent the occurrence of domestic violence in the first place?”
“We need to help families experiencing violence before it is too late. The Tweed and Northern New South Wales region need their own specialist domestic violence police unit to facilitate the high numbers of domestic violence complaints received every week.”
“The specialist domestic violence police unit would require specialist domestic violence police officers, a child support officer from the Department of Child Safety to assess the risk of harm to children of families affected by domestic violence, a New South Wales Health worker to assess any mental health, drug and alcohol issues and the wellbeing of children impacted by family violence, and a lawyer to provide advice to police, victims, and to perpetrators.”
From March 2020 to March 2022, there were 742 incidents of domestic assault reported just in the Tweed region. It was reported between March 2020-21 acts of domestic assault increased by 20.9 per cent compared to the previous year, and these numbers have remained at this high level ever since.
“We are fortunate to have a very approachable Tweed Byron Police Commander Superintendent in David Roptell who is always open to discussion with respect to issues that affect the Tweed Byron region”, said Mr Twohill.
Mr Twohill intends to create a domestic violence forum and organise a meeting of stakeholders at Attwood Marshall Lawyers’ Kingscliff office to promote discussion on addressing the issue of domestic violence in the area.
Expanding the Attwood Marshall Lawyers Family Law Department to meet demand
In part due to the significant rise in family and domestic violence, Attwood Marshall Lawyers has responded to the increase in the number of people needing family law advice by expanding their family law department and recruiting additional senior lawyers and paralegals to support families in this difficult area of law.
The department is led by Special Counsel Michael Twohill, who has over 40 years of legal experience with special expertise in dealing with complex family law matters that involve domestic and family violence, alongside Senior Associate Hayley Condon who has over 16 years’ extensive experience in all aspects of family law, newly recruited Senior Associate lawyer Carlu Booth who brings to the firm over 20 years of industry experience, Family Lawyer Emily Edmonds who recently returned from maternity leave, and Family Lawyer Laura Dolan, who was born and raised on the Gold Coast with strong community roots. The lawyers are supported by law graduate Farah Khateeb (who is soon to be admitted as a lawyer), paralegal Brittany Watsford, as well as the Department Manager, Donna Tolley.
“We have seen a significant increase in enquiries related to family law disputes over the past 12 months, and to meet the growing demand we are proud to expand our Family Law department so that we can help as many families as possible,” said Attwood Marshall Lawyers Legal Practice Director, Jeff Garrett.
“We train all our lawyers to listen and connect to our clients so that they can determine what is most important to them and provide realistic, helpful advice. It is our intent to help our clients resolve their matters with as little conflict as possible so that they can move on with their lives. This approach is imperative when you are dealing with contentious family disputes and matters that involve domestic violence. You need someone in your corner who is experienced and can help you get through this very difficult and stressful period,” explained Mr Garrett.
Attwood Marshall Lawyers have Gold Coast and Northern New South Wales offices located at Robina Town Centre, Coolangatta, and Kingscliff, as well as offices in Brisbane, Sydney, and Melbourne. The firm offers a 24-hour call service to be able to respond to urgent family law matters immediately.
Attwood Marshall Lawyers – Supporting families through tough times
It is our goal to support families as they face some of the most difficult times in their lives. We aim to resolve matters between parties in a way that does not cause any more conflict than is necessary and ensuring the safety of our clients is paramount.
Any act of abuse or violence, whether that be emotional, physical, sexual, or financial abuse, is not okay!
Our experienced team of family lawyers can handle all family law matters including divorce applications, property settlements, parenting disputes, binding financial agreements, child support and spousal maintenance, and domestic violence-related matters.
To make an appointment or find out more about our services, contact our Family Law Department Manager, Donna Tolley, on direct line 07 5506 8241, email firstname.lastname@example.org or free call our 24/7 phone line on 1800 621 071.