It is important that people can access their justice services locally, Member for Shepparton District Suzanna Sheed said today.
“Moving the Supreme Court and County Court trial circuits from Shepparton to Wangaratta for the two years of the new court building project is an inconvenience to the users of the court that hasn’t been taken into account,’’ Ms Sheed said.
There is very limited public transport between Shepparton and Wangaratta and many who use the courts will find this a significant hardship.
She has called on Attorney-General Martin Pakula to ask Court Services Victoria to find suitable alternative court accommodation in Shepparton for the continuation of all court services as usual during the development of the new Shepparton courthouse.
Ms Sheed told Parliament: “The Federal Magistrates Court — that is, the Federal Circuit Court — conducts four family law circuits throughout the year and in recent times has had to use the Koori Court, a very small courtroom not suitable for the conduct of a busy family law list. It also needs suitable accommodation pending the redevelopment, as do the many other tribunals and services that operate from our local courthouse.
“Recently I received a heartfelt letter signed by 17 lawyers who practice family law and who described the Koori Court as ‘woefully inadequate’ for a very busy circuit. It is a small courtroom designed for a very different use. They said that their clients are entitled to better treatment, and I agree.”
Ms Sheed has looked at six different spaces in Shepparton to see if they might be suitable to set up a temporary court, and believes that with a bit of investment there are several viable locations.
“Circuit courts exist to service court users in their local communities and I urge all concerned to ensure that access continues during the redevelopment period,” Ms Sheed said.