The Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal (VCAT) has announced it will establish new offices in Berwick and the City of Hume in an attempt to increase access to justice for all Victorians.
Deputy Premier and Attorney-General Rob Hulls announced the move yesterday as part of a three-year plan, which also includes locating VCAT staff within regional courthouses at Geelong, Ballarat, Bendigo, Shepparton, Morwell, Mildura, Warrnambool and Wangaratta.
Hulls said the strategic plan, known as Transforming VCAT, would promote quicker decision-making and greater accountability among tribunal members.
"VCAT plays an important role in our justice system, and its decisions have the potential to impact greatly on the lives of all Victorians," said Hulls.
"VCAT was set up just over 11 years ago as a way of centralising Victoria's many separate tribunals. Transforming VCAT ensures it stays true to that mission, as an innovative, flexible and accessible organisation that delivers a fair and efficient dispute resolution service."
Hulls said the plan sets a performance benchmark for members, requiring that 90 per cent of all reserved decisions were delivered within six weeks of the final day of hearing.
"Delays were often raised during consultations on the performance of VCAT," Hulls said. "These benchmarks will ensure Victorians receive decisions faster to get on with their lives."
Hulls added that VCAT has already implemented some reforms, including a trial of twilight sittings at the Neighbourhood Justice Centre and the Major Cases List which streamlines planning matters.