Domestic Violence Duty Lawyer Service

NQWLS provides a free and confidential duty lawyer service at the Cairns and Townsville Magistrates Courts. In Cairns, the Duty Lawyer is present each Thursday and in Townsville, she is present each Tuesday and Thursday for Domestic Violence Court. The NQWLS duty lawyer can provide free legal advice, court support, legal information and referrals for unrepresented women (both aggrieved and respondent) who have a matter relating to a domestic violence protection order in court that day. The NQWLS duty lawyer may appear in court on behalf of a client or assist with negotiations regarding a Protection Order. The NQWLS duty lawyer cannot appear in contested hearings or represent a client at a trial.

The type of assistance will be determined on a case by case basis depending on the circumstances of the client, our case management guidelines and availability of resources.


Hours of operation

Thursday 8:30 am – 1 pm


Level 2, Cairns Magistrates’ Court
5 Sheridan Street
Cairns QLD 4870


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Hours of operation

Monday 9.00am – 12.00pm (or later where required)

Friday 9.00am – 12.00pm (or later where required)


Magistrates Court
31 Walker Street
Townsville QLD 4870

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Before seeking advice from the NQWLS Duty Lawyer, attend at the Magistrates Court front desk and advise Court staff that you are there for the Domestic Violence Court.

Helpful tips

  • Before your court date, telephone the NQWLS Legal Advice Line on 1800 244 544 at the relevant times to ask how we may be able to assist with your domestic violence protection order matter.
  • Arrive at court at least 30 minutes prior to the nominated time, to ensure you have time to speak with the NQWLS duty lawyer who may be able to assist you with your matter.
  • If you are in fear of your safety there is a ‘safe room’ available at the court and you should speak with the court staff.
  • If you are having trouble finding the NQWLS duty lawyer at court, speak to a person from the Cairns Regional Domestic Violence Service or the North Queensland Domestic Violence Service (in Townsville) or court staff at the information counter.
  • If you need assistance at court when the NQWLS duty lawyer is not there, ask to see the court support workers from the Cairns Regional Domestic Violence Service or the North Queensland Domestic Violence Resource Service in Townsville.