Court safety a concern for Loddon legal centre

Arc Justice executive officer Hayley Mansfield, Loddon Campaspe Community Legal Centre community development worker Annika Kearton and Loddon Campaspe Community Legal Centre community lawyer Rob Southgate are campaigning to improve safety at the Maryborough courthouse.

Improving court safety in Maryborough is set to be one of Loddon Campaspe Community Legal Centre’s top priorities for 2018, with community development worker Annika Kearton saying the current facility is putting people, especially family violence victims, at risk.

Labelling the current facility as outdated for today’s modern court system, Ms Kearton said the court house’s lack of disability access, minimal privacy and security is limiting the community’s access to justice.

“The Maryborough courthouse is not suitable for the types of matters that are now being heard there,” she said.

“We’ve got specific concerns around family violence and the safety for those who are coming into the court for family violence intervention orders. There’s no way to separate the people who are applying for those orders from the respondents.

“There is nowhere for people to wait until their matters are heard, so everyone stands out the front of the courthouse. There is limited privacy.

“For those affected by family violence, it can be hard enough for people to take that step to make an intervention order, and then to have to encounter the person who has been committing acts of abuse or violence, it can be traumatising.

“As part of contributing to the message that family violence is unacceptable is making it as easy as possible for people who are experiencing family violence to seek the help they need, including the legal system in terms of granting intervention orders in the court. Having a safe court is a really fundamental part of that process.”

For more on this story see Page 3 of The Advertiser, Tuesday, December 12.

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