Women’s courage inspires Townsville lawyer’s fight against domestic violence

March 31st, 2017

Townsville lawyer Sharell O’Brien says it is the courage of the women she helps that inspires her fight against domestic violence.

Ms O’Brien is the supervising solicitor at the North Queensland Women’s Legal Service (NQWLS) which assists women from Sarina to Cape York with free legal advice and referrals.

“It takes a lot for people to seek help, and them coming to us and seeking that assistance shows a lot of courage,” Ms O’Brien said.

Since joining the service three years ago Ms O’Brien has introduced several online tools to assist women in more remote parts of the state get the legal advice they need.

She said her Ask Nola website and the distribution of laptops equipped with Skype to remote outreach locations have been very effective.

“Being able to use technology to get out to the rural, regional, remote areas and provide legal advice … helps women who wouldn’t necessarily have found that information anywhere else,” Ms O’Brien said.

Australia’s domestic violence epidemic

The NQWLS provides more than 6,000 legal services each year and has seen a 60 per cent increase in demand in the last year.

Ms O’Brien said Australia was experiencing an “epidemic” of domestic violence at the moment and Cairns and Townsville are two of Queensland’s domestic violence hotspots.

Ms O’Brien said the Australian culture of ignoring domestic violence or thinking it is none of your business had to change.

Ms O’Brien said her work could be very confronting, but it was satisfying to be able to help women and children in need.

“Every day we see someone that is experiencing domestic and family violence and we are able to give them legal help or referral information … and that allows us to make their lives a little easier, their children’s lives a little easier,” Ms O’Brien said.

“Each day you do have little wins.”

Call our friendly team at Bloxham Legal on 9221 5815 for further advice on domestic violence matters, including applying for a violence restraining order, if necessary.