AN INJECTION of $126 million is expected to boost the legal and justice system in Victoria, as part of the 2005-06 State Budget announced last week.
Attorney-General Rob Hulls said the budget would allow the modern justice system to respond to technological advances in evidence gathering. As well, Melbourne’s court buildings would be modernised as part of the largest redevelopment of courts in Victoria’s history.
A total of $2.5 million will go towards planning the court redevelopment, particularly the first stage of redeveloping the Supreme, Old County Court and Magistrates’ Courts, in an effort to create a new legal precinct for Melbourne.
Locating all the major legal services into the one area will improve efficiency and allow the courts to meet future needs, according to the Budget.
The Office of Public Prosecutions would be able to tackle a growing workload with its share of the funding, comprising $21.5 million. The Office has experienced a 30 per cent increase in court sitting days and a rise of 54 per cent in pre-trial work since 2001, the Budget notes.
As well, Victorian prosecutors will receive more resources to progress cases through the courts as part of afunding boost, Hulls announced. “Sophisticated forensic evidence and the use of electronic surveillance means much greater preparation time for prosecutors to present evidence in our courts,” he said.
A total of $5.8 million will be spent over the next four years to track high risk child sex offenders and make sure they receive ongoing counselling. The proposed scheme will ensure offenders will be able to continue treatment and get support for their problems after they have finished their sentence.
There will be improved access to legal assistance, including four new Community Legal Centres, as $8.9 million goes towards providing legal and consumer advice to an additional 8,200 Victorians in Melbourne’s outer suburbs and in the State’s central west.