You have probably heard of the need for a new court facility for Bendigo, but maybe you are wondering why this is such an important priority for Bendigo.
While the current court building in Pall Mall is grand and majestic, it was not built for the volume or nature of modern legal work and has outlived its useful life as the venue for justice in Bendigo. Courts are one of those things that most people hope they never have to attend and thankfully not many do. However, that means many do not understand the desperate need for new courts for Bendigo.
Currently, courts in Bendigo are spread over 3 buildings – the original courthouse, courtrooms converted in the former police station and an additional courtroom on the top floor of the old post office. Having the court facilities spread over 3 buildings hinders the efficiency of court sittings and administration for court staff, judiciary and court users.
Courts now rely heavily on technology which is difficult in our 19th century courtrooms. The acoustics of the grand rooms are terrible – justice may be seen in the Bendigo Courts, but not always heard!
The way the legal system operates now encourages the resolution of disputes through negotiation and mediation outside of the courtroom. Our current facilities in Bendigo provide only limited space for confidential negotiations and advice, they don’t even provide enough seats for those waiting.
Even more concerning is the lack of safety of our historic court building. Particularly in family violence matters, the building with lack of safe spaces, nooks and crannies and lack of clear vision is terrifying and unsafe for victims of crime attending court. The building is also unsafe for general use, the temporary security facilities are cumbersome, the steps dangerous, the lift often out of order.
The need for a new court is urgent, the building is suffering from the wear and tear caused by it servicing far too many people than for which it was designed. It would be a terrible shame if the building was harmed irreparably by continued overuse.
Why should Bendigo businesses care about new courts for Bendigo? A suitable court facility will make a significant contribution to the Bendigo economy, not only in the build. Its current state means that many Bendigo cases can’t be heard in Bendigo which sees money being spent away from our city. A 10-court facility will bring court cases and expenditure to Bendigo. Suitable court facilities will see matters dealt with more expediently, a significant factor in improving Bendigo.
If you are still wondering about the need for a new court building, head down to the court on a busy morning and just have a look around – just make sure you leave enough time to get through the odd security arrangements!
Be.Bendigo has identified new court facilities as a key issue in the November state election. Currently the land required, and associated planning has been committed. Be.Bendigo urges the funding of the new facility.
This article courtesy of Marika McMahon, Chair of Be.Bendigo, Bendigo Lawyer and Accredited Family Law SpecialistFor more articles by this author, click here.