Students from Shepparton English Language Centre visited the new Shepparton Law Courts on Tuesday, 4 June. Students at the Language Centre are all from overseas – new settlements and refugees. A court visit is important, for in some middle-eastern cultures, to be seen at court is culturally a matter of shame. So the visit enabled all the students to feel at ease and learn about the Law Courts of Shepparton.
The Law Courts form a regional headquarters for the Hume/Goulburn region, completing the major urban precinct centered on the open and transparent delivery of justice in Greater Shepparton and beyond.
The purpose-designed building sets the standard for modern multi-jurisdictional courts, providing more accessible and responsive services for regional Victoria and improving access to justice for the Shepparton community. The design aligns to the Court Services Victoria Strategic Asset Plan priorities of ensuring that Victorian court and tribunal buildings are modern, technology enabled, safe, secure and sustainable.
The new facilities reflect contemporary applications of courthouse design, information technology, environmental sustainability and changing justice delivery models. The design also ensures capability to accommodate future service demands in the region.
The building features a welcoming entry lobby inspired by the image of the ancient River Red Gum. The base of the new building is founded on brick, in memory of older country court houses.
There are three stages to a County Koori Court hearing – Arraignment, the Sentencing Conversation and the Sentence. In the Arraignment, the accused enters a formal guilty plea before the Judge alone.
The sentencing conversation follows and includes the Judge, the Elders and Respected Persons, the accused, the lawyer for the accused, the Prosecutor, the Koori Court Officer, the Corrections Officer and those people who may be present to support the offender. If a victim is present he or she will participate. Everybody has the opportunity to speak.
The Judge has the sole responsibility for imposing sentence.
The County Koori Court began sitting in the Latrobe Valley in 2008, in Melbourne in 2013 and in Mildura in 2016. The expansion to Shepparton is an important next step along the path to full state wide coverage.
Aboriginal Elders and Respected Persons are appointed from each region where a County Koori Court is located and have strong cultural ties and knowledge of the local area and their community.
New Family Violence Division at Shepparton Court
The Shepparton Magistrates’ Court has opened a new Family Violence Court Division today to give communities access to more modern court facilities and better access to justice. The new division will provide specialist support services and include a new counselling order program.
The court’s mandated counselling order program will allow specialist family violence magistrates to order male perpetrators of family violence to attend men’s behaviour change programs. This will contribute to improving the safety of families living with violence by ensuring perpetrators change their behaviours and thereby reduce the risk they present to their families.
The new division will feature specially trained applicant and respondent practitioners to assist those impacted by family violence with court support and appropriate referral pathways. This will promote the safety of victims and increase accountability of those who have used violence against family members.