Budget strengthens Victoria’s justice system

• Victorian Coalition Government delivering improved court facilities
• Additional staff to assist with personal safety intervention orders
• Coalition Government building a better, safer Victoria

The Victorian Coalition Government’s 2014-15 Victorian State Budget will deliver improved court facilities and justice services through more than $89.8 million in new funding.

Attorney-General Robert Clark said the budget would see the development of a new court complex and appointment of additional court staff in Shepparton, an upgrade to the Office of Public Prosecutions (OPP) headquarters and funding to boost services for personal safety intervention orders.

“The Coalition Government is providing $73 million to fund a new court building in Shepparton and increase staffing to meet the Hume region’s growing demand,” Mr Clark said.

“The funding will see the existing building replaced with a new, purpose-built multi-jurisdictional court complex, together with an additional Magistrate and court staff.

“The new facility will be built on existing land and an adjoining site, with court sittings able to continue during construction.

“Once completed the Shepparton Law Courts will include five new court rooms and expanded ability for the Supreme and County Courts to hear cases locally.”

Mr Clark said the much-needed Shepparton redevelopment, scheduled for completion in 2017, would provide secure and modern facilities for court users and staff.

The OPP city offices will be consolidated and refurbished in a $12.1 million project.

Mr Clark said the consolidation would bring the OPP’s city-based prosecution services together under one roof, facilitating teamwork and collaboration and boosting efficiency. Works are expected to be completed by the end of 2015.

The court system will also receive $1.2 million annually to provide additional ongoing court staff to assist with personal safety intervention order applications in the Magistrates’ Court.

Mr Clark said personal safety intervention orders provide increased protection for victims of stalking, bullying and other threatening behaviours, while diverting lower level interpersonal disputes to mediation.

“The budget will provide dispute assessment officers to assess and divert appropriate cases, as well as additional court and dispute resolution staff,” Mr Clark said.

“Diverting appropriate cases to mediation reduces the costs to parties who undertake mediation or assisted settlement and provides the potential for resolution for those people who do not wish to take their disputes to court.

“Importantly, diverting appropriate personal safety intervention matters to mediation will free up court capacity for more serious cases, both personal safety matters and family violence matters.”