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Townsville court volunteers clock up 20 years of service

When Queensland marks Law Week (May 16-21) a group of Townsville volunteers will be having a quiet celebration of their own.

The Townsville Volunteer Court Support group has been helping people navigate the local court system for 20 years.
Foundation member Ann Frankcom said the group rostered two members a day to a service desk at the entrance to Townsville’s Magistrates Court.

“Going into a Magistrates court can be a very daunting experience,” Ms Frankcom said.

“I’m sure defendants and their families, along with witnesses, victims of crime, domestic violence victims and people facing civil matters, all feel varying degrees of stress on entering the court.

“Taking a person into court before it begins, and explaining the procedure, can alleviate some of the anxiety.”

The volunteers also liaise with the court’s duty lawyer.

Ms Frankcom said the group began when the then Department of Family Services called for volunteers to help juveniles negotiate the court system. The group was later asked to transfer its services to the adult court.

“We have had a remarkable continuity of great volunteers – James Cook University students, retirees, sporting identities and caring Townsville residents,” she said.

Salvation Army prison chaplain Robert Down, 72, a court volunteer for 19 years, provides support three times a week – twice as a Salvation Army representative and once as a private citizen.

“With a name like Bob Down, I can laugh and joke with people,” he said.

“The main thing in the court support is making friends so people feel comfortable with you.”

The group also includes Carol Hiddens, Ally Cox, Pat Talbot, Geraldine O'Brien and John Hall.

For more information about Law Week: www.lawweek.qld.gov.au

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Last reviewed
19 May 2011
Last updated
5 November 2015
 
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