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Family violence intervention orders are granted speedily and safely

Recommendation:
062
Status:
In progress

Who is leading the change

  • Court Services Victoria

The Victorian Government enact legislation and take other steps as necessary to support the capacity of the Magistrates’ Court of Victoria (and, where relevant, the Children’s Court of Victoria) to grant family violence intervention orders speedily and with due regard to the interests of justice and the safety of affected family members.

The Victorian Government consider:

  • transferring some of the jurisdiction of the Magistrates’ Court of Victoria to another forum - for example, fines and traffic infringements
  • expanding the range of matters that can be determined on the papers - that is, without an in-person hearing
  • funding the appointment of a greater number of judicial registrars to deal with certain matters or classes of matters

The Magistrates’ Court of Victoria (and, where relevant, the Children’s Court of Victoria) consider whether the caseload of magistrates could be better managed by:

  • re-assigning some family violence intervention order applications currently heard at the Melbourne Magistrates’ Court to the Neighbourhood Justice Centre
  • delegating authority to judicial registrars to deal with certain matters or classes of matters under the Family Violence Protection Act 2008 (Vic) - for example, allowing them to grant adjournments or make interim orders and/or substituted service orders. The Victorian Government should take any necessary action to implement these recommendations if the Magistrates’ Court of Victoria advises this is desirable
  • As part of a number of court reforms the Magistrates’ Court and the Department of Justice and Community Safety are working to make courts safer and less traumatic for victim survivors by developing innovative approaches to improve the court experience. 

    Work on this recommendation involves: 

    • consulting across the Magistrates' Court and Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal to identify options and impacts 
    • undertaking policy work to determine a detailed approach for transferring some of the Magistrates’ Court of Victoria jurisdiction to an alternative forum, expanding on-the-papers determinations and potentially expanding the powers of Judicial Registrars or the delegation 
    • developing detailed cost modelling on potential transfers of jurisdiction 
    • developing supporting legislation through the usual legislative drafting processes, if required 
  • In order to ensure all family violence matters can be heard and determined across Victoria in a timely manner, the Magistrates’ Court of Victoria is continuing to work closely with the Department of Justice and Community Safety to consider options for the transfer of jurisdiction, on-the-papers decision making and caseload management. 

    Additional Judicial Registrars have been appointed to build capacity within the Magistrates’ Court of Victoria. However, to date, amendments to the Family Violence Protection Act 2008 (Vic) (the Act) have not been made to delegate authority to judicial registrars to deal with applications such as adjournments or to make interim orders and/or substituted service under the Act. Magistrates remain the sole authority under this Act. 

    A suite of fines reforms commenced operation on 1 January 2018, which included the establishment of Fines Victoria to deal with the majority of infringements matters. 

    The Level 5/Community Based Venues Program is a strategic initiative being delivered as a partnership between VCAT and Court Services Victoria Assets Planning & Management to establish three (3) purpose designed VCAT venues in Metropolitan Melbourne, to serve the Moorabbin, Frankston and Heidelberg areas. Delivery of the program is also an important dependency for the establishment of the Moorabbin, Frankston and Heidelberg Specialist Family Violence Courts. 

    • VCAT’s Oakleigh venue is now open and VCAT has accordingly ceased hearings at the Moorabbin Justice Centre. 
    • Construction of the Frankston venue is now underway with practical completion expected in November 2020.
    • The lease for the Bundoora venue (transitioning from Heidelberg Court) has been agreed, and the concept design for the venue has been approved, completion is anticipated to occur January 2021. 

    The Transport Legislation Amendment (Better Roads Victoria and Other Amendments) Act 2019 received Royal Assent on 26 March 2019. Among other things, this legislation will transfer jurisdiction for certain alcohol interlock removal and related re-licensing matters from the Magistrates’ Court of Victoria to VicRoads. When the reforms commence later this year, it is expected that it will remove over 5,000 matters each year from the Magistrates’ Court of Victoria. 

    To respond to increased demand on the justice system, the 2018/19 State Budget provided $128.9 million to increase the capacity of the courts to meet the growing demands. This funding provides for 1 new Supreme Court judge, 2 new County Court judges, and 18 new Magistrates. 

    This recommendation relies on work related to Recommendations 63, 64, 65, 67, 68, 73, 135 and the outcomes with allied court reforms such as bail reform. 

  • Forecast implementation date: 31 July 2021.

Reviewed 07 January 2021

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