Law Week 2017 Justice Journeys

Maree Stinson

Maree has worked at the courthouse for almost 20 years, and managed it single-handedly for the past 3 years.

In her own words, Maree describes what life is like in an organisation of…just 1. Maree wears many hats:  registrar, QGAP manager, building manager, chief problem solver, counsellor, mother, taxi driver and cattle rancher.

I am currently the Registrar and Queensland Government Agent Program (QGAP) Manager based at the Mitchell Courthouse.  Mitchell is a quiet little country town 6 hours west of Brisbane.

I live at the next small town west called Mungallala.  My husband and I own a cattle breeding operation on a property, which is about 5000 acres.  We have two sons who attended the Mungallala State School for their primary education. I drive a round trip of 110km to work and home every day, dropping off my sons at the local high school in Mitchell on the way.

Previously, I worked for Suncorp in Roma for 12 years.  I left when I married and moved to Mungallala.  I started working here in July 1998 as a casual officer 2 days a week.  I would relieve as Registrar and Manager when needed. In March 2014, the registrar’s positon become vacant, and I started working full-time.  In September 2014 I was successful in gaining the position. Mitchell is now a 1-person office.

The Mitchell Courthouse stayed high and dry after the 2012 floods.

Like a lot of Queensland, Mitchell is in a drought declared area.  We had the oil and gas boom.  Things went quiet and then…we had major flooding in February 2012. Seventy per cent of houses were flooded, cars got washed away—it was a very stressful time for the town. The courthouse survived and became a central point for the town. As the QGAP Manager, I was busy sorting out replacement documents, helping with access to support for people. The place was crawling, with tradies and support services—amazing how quickly things got sorted though.

There aren’t many government offices in Mitchell so people come to the courthouse and QGAP for help. In August 2016, Mitchell become an online agency with transactions now processed immediately.  I have court every 2 months but most of the day-to-day work gets generated by customers wanting services via Queensland Transport and Main Roads. I provide services for many other agencies, I even have a self-access Centrelink booth. Some of the other services I offer include:

  • applying and renewing drivers licences
  • new/ renewal motor vehicle and boat registrations
  • transfer registrations
  • unregistered vehicle permits
  • pay infringement notices
  • birth, death or marriage certificates
  • registering births
  • SPER matters
  • Justice of the Peace services
  • lodging housing applications
  • applications for bond loans
  • making Wills or Enduring Power of Attorney
  • Australian Tax Office support
  • Office of Liquor and Gaming services
  • insurance services
  • residential tenancies authority information
  • senior cards and many more.

Work can get very quiet, then very busy. I have to be very self-motivated. I work with diverse clientele across a broad range of issues, often helping clients who are confused by the various different department processes.  I love being able to solve their problems and send them away happy.

I manage the building and cleaning contracting. I share the courthouse with the Queensland Police Service.

Court is held once every 2 months. The Magistrate does a circuit from Charleville and court sits for around 2 to 3 hours. Matters include driving offences and sometimes domestic violence applications. Major matters get sent to Roma.