Stawell residents will have access to safer and more secure court facilities as part of a state-wide rollout of court security officers.
Western Victoria MP Jaala Pulford announced on Wednesday three court security officers would be deployed to the Stawell Magistrates’ Court on sitting days from this week.
The officers will undertake entry screening and provide a roving security presence, delivering on key recommendations from the Royal Commission into Family Violence.
They will also provide escort services for vulnerable people when required, including women and children who have been victims of family violence.
The new court security officers will also allow Victoria Police, where they consider it appropriate, to re-deploy police officers currently providing court security to front-line duties.
Ms Pulford said the court security officer deployment formed part of the state government’s $58.1 million investment in the state’s court system.
“This investment will help ensure that victim survivors of family violence feel safer when attending court in their home town,” she said.
“The addition of Court Security Officers at the Stawell Magistrates’ Court will deliver on key recommendations from the Royal Commission into Family Violence,” she said.
Victims of family violence have previously been forced to wait for hours outside or in the same waiting room as their perpetrators at Stawell’s courthouse.
District lawyers claimed they had resorted to briefing their clients in cars, carparks and even the back of a ute because regional courthouses, including Stawell, were unfit for purpose.
But a Grampians Community Health initiative then started to allow victims of family violence to wait safely across the road at their premises, until their cases were set to be heard by a magistrate.
Wimmera Prosecutions officer in charge Michael Patterson said the officers would play a crucial role in making victims of family violence feel safer when accessing regional courtrooms, including Stawell.
"All courts in the circuit will have security when in session," he said.
"The officers will provide security to victims, to help ease any worries when coming to court and potentially crossing paths with perpetrators.
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