Warrnambool is still without a family violence court despite recording a higher incident rate than 80 per cent of regions operating the specialist division. Crime Statistics Agency (CSA) data released on December 6 revealed a significant increase in the number of cases heard in the family violence division of the magistrates court. In the year to June 30, 2023, there were 22,916 intervention order applications heard in the specialist division, up from 8438 the year before. CSA's chief statistician Fiona Dowsley said the data represented a significant advance in how the criminal justice system responds to family violence, and an increased capacity to apply specialist knowledge to manage often complex matters. "Evidence suggests that this can result in better outcomes for victim-survivors of family violence," she said. Victoria's 12 specialist courts are located in Ballarat, Broadmeadows, Geelong, Dandenong, Melbourne, Shepparton, Frankston, Heidelberg, Latrobe, Moorabbin, Ringwood and Sunshine. CSA data shows Warrnambool's rate of family violence incidents (2046) is higher than all regions except for Latrobe (3285) and Shepparton (2513). Ballarat had the fourth highest rate at 1829 and Heidelberg the lowest with 904. The number of courts will expand to 14 by 2025 with the anticipated gazette of Bendigo and Wyndham. The Warrnambool court has remote witness facilities, a dedicated family violence police prosecutor and is one of 11 locations across the state directly supported by a remote hearing support service, which allows some complainants to attend a supported court hearing offsite. But lawyers have reported clients being ineligible for specialised support, including a drug court, due to "postcode injustice". The Standard asked the state government why Warrnambool was overlooked for specialist divisions despite the higher rate. A spokeswoman said a range of factors were considered in determining the location of specialist courts, including population, demographics, facility stability and community needs. "We will continue to work with the Magistrates Court of Victoria to further assess accessibility and demand of specialist family violence courts across the state," she said. Warrnambool Emma House executive manager Carmel Thomas said recent crime statistics highlighted the city's 12.3 per cent increase in rates of family violence incidents. "And we continue to see high numbers of support provided through our duty lawyer to clients, with assistance provided on 206 occasions in Warrnambool to 113 unique clients, and 70 services to 46 unique clients in Glenelg in the past 12 months," she said. She said Emma House would "welcome additional support and focus on improving the safety of victim-survivors". "There are a number of benefits to having a specialist family violence court with better resources for victim-survivors, along with applicant and respondent practitioners," she said. "The specialist court also provides specialist support workers for Aboriginal and LGBTIQA+ clients, along with mental health support workers who can provide resources and support." Earlier this year Emma House merged with The Sexual Assault &amp; Family Violence Centre, which is based in Geelong where a specialised court was introduced in October 2022. Ms Carmel said with the court only operating for 12 months the full impact it had on victims was yet to be understood, but welcomed its introduction as one of the recommendations from the Royal Commission into Family Violence. Information obtained from the state government said Warrnambool was serviced by Geelong's specialist staff and resources. Shane Keogh, a retired family violence adviser and former interim CEO of Gunditjimara Aboriginal Cooperative, said anything that would improve the safety of family violence victims was positive. "If (the specialised court) also provides assistance to the workload of our court staff and police then I would also see this is a positive and an urgent need," he said.