The premier of Victoria has announced the 2017-18 state budget will deliver $89.2 million to revamp ageing IT systems at the Children’s and Magistrates’ Courts.
Premier Daniel Andrews MP said his government will ensure vital upgrades are provided to the courts to ensure better information sharing between them and other agencies. In addition, he said the upgrades will enable the courts to be safer and more efficient.
The new system is designed to make court processes faster, while helping judges to make more informed decisions to keep victims safe, addressing key recommendations from the Royal Commission into Family Violence, according to a statement from the Victorian state government.
“The Andrews Labor Government is delivering a safer, fairer and more equitable legal system in Victoria,” said Attorney-General Martin Pakula.
“Court processes will be faster and courts will be brought into the 21st century with new technology.
“We’re also funding the essential work of community legal centres so that some of the most disadvantaged people receive the critical services they deserve.”
The budget will see the Supreme Court also receive $10.9 million for advanced audio and visual technology, set to allow witnesses to provide testimony via video link.
Victoria Legal Aid will benefit from the budget with the provision of a $15 million investment in the service to fund additional legal services for children and young people in the justice system.
Furthermore, the budget will deliver $3.4 million to establish a Fast Track Remand Court in the Children’s Court to “speed up the processing of youths on remand. The fast track court will ensure that young people’s cases will be dealt with more quickly, reducing pressure on the system”, the statement said.
A budget of $14.5 million is said to be invested in Victoria’s community legal centres to help disadvantaged members of the community access free legal advice and support.
Other handouts in the budget is $22 million in an attempt to provide more mental health support services in the courts, including an additional Mental Health Court Liaison officer in the Children’s Court and an expansion of the Assessment and Referral Court List to provide intensive pre-sentence support and judicial supervision to accused people with mental illness or cognitive impairment, according to the statement.
The statement noted that Court Services Victoria (CSV) will receive $12.2 million to upgrade court facilities and boost resources at a number of regional courts.
Moreover, CSV will be bestowed a further $3.9 million to develop plans for an expansion of the Bendigo Law Court to meet future demand in the region, and another $3.7 million to develop plans for a new Werribee Law Court as part of the Wyndham Justice Precinct development.
“The Family Drug Treatment Court will also get $1.4 million to extend a trial operating at the Broadmeadows Children’s Court, which works with parents whose children are in care due to parental drug or alcohol issues,” according to the statement.