Eighty-four new Justices of the Peace (JPs) have been appointed in Victoria under a new Code of Conduct aimed at increasing the accountability of JPs and ensuring they maintain acceptable standards of behaviour.
Victorian Deputy Premier and Attorney-General Rob Hulls announced the appointments yesterday (19 October), saying they represent a new approach to appointments which encourages the best candidates to take up important roles in the justice system.
Hulls said the Code would make it clear that JPs cannot use their office for personal gain or to further their employment, and must proactively provide their services.
"Justices of the Peace perform a valuable service witnessing and certifying legal documents, including statutory declarations and affidavits," Hulls said.
"This Code of Conduct will ensure Justices of the Peace continue to provide a reliable and modern service, and that JPs act independently and impartially."
Under the Code, JPs will be required to notify the Department of Justice if they are ever subject to criminal proceedings, become bankrupt or are absent for any extended period.
"This ensures that the integrity of the role and office of Justice of the Peace can be maintained now and into the future," said Hulls.
The Code forms part of a suite of reforms to the office of Justice of the Peace, including changes to the appointment process, the introduction of term limits with an option of re-appointment, formalised training and professional development, and a revised complaints process.
"The services provided by Justices of the Peace need to be available to as many communities as possible to ensure equal access to the justice system," said Hulls.
Amongst the appointees are numerous JPs boasting different ethnic backgrounds, including Tanzania, Sri Lankan and Burmese, as well as several new appointees in regional and rural Victoria.