The structure of the Justice of the Peace was inherited from England when Australia was first settled in 1788. The office was subsequently inherited in Queensland in 1859 when Queensland separated from New South Wales.
Initially, the powers of English justices of the peace and Australian JPs were very similar. In fact, in some cases, Australian JPs had even greater authority, especially over convicts. However, the duties of Australian justices of the peace were fundamentally changed once the use of paid magistrates became commonplace.
Today, Australian justices of the peace share few similarities with their English counterparts. While an English justice of the peace (aided by a legally qualified clerk) customarily sits as a magistrate in court for a full day once every two weeks, most Australian justices of the peace only ever undertake administrative duties.
In Australia, the office of justice of the peace is a state institution, and there does not exist national justices of the peace. Each State and Territorial government has put into place its own legislation to regulate the powers of justices of the peace and enact a framework for their hiring process. The functions and powers of a justice of the peace differ for every state. In Queensland, it is still possible for a justice of the peace to exercise certain judicial functions. However, since 1989 Victorian justices of the peace have been able to carry out only administrative tasks.
JPs can provide service in an official document signing station or from their own workplace or home without causing major disruption to their day. JPs are accessible to the general public and stakeholders on a regular basis, which means the work and hours may be adjusted as needed.
Typically, individuals in the community who need your services will make an appointment with you and then arrive. The majority of appointments are brief.
Document signing sites are all over Australia. Document signing site members operate from local sites such as police stations, libraries, courthouses, shopping centres, and more.
For those who wish to volunteer for document signing sites, you can do so by participating in the Queensland government-run program ‘JPs in the Community’. This is an excellent method to get involved in the life of a community, and help provide a valuable service.
To become a justice of the peace in Queensland
, individuals must:
- be of or over the age of 18 years
- be an Australian citizen
- not be an insolvent under administration.
Applicants must also satisfy the Attorney-General that they:
- He or she must have completed the training program necessary to be appointed as a JP.
- To fulfill the demands of a JP, you must be fluent in English and have adequate experience.
reside in Australia
- are considered a fit and proper person
Though this is a managerial position, you will be interacting with individuals rather than just signing documents. That's why the personal qualities listed below are so essential when selecting new JPs.
- Initiative and accountability
- Self-control and discipline
- Service focus
- Conflict management
- Drive and commitment
- Empathy and cultural awareness