New courthouse for Sandgate
I have put below a media release about a new courthouse at Sandgate in Brisbane.
It is essential that we have smart design in courthouses. It is particularly important now that domestic violence cases form some of the core business of Magistrates Courts (Local Courts in NSW). Now there is a much higher emphasis on security and ensuring that those who are vulnerable, such as survivors of domestic violence, are safe.
Although I did not go to the old courthouse at Sandgate often, I remember it well. There was nothing quite like appearing for a woman who was seeking a protection order, and waiting to get on in court. There was no security at court. The only place to wait was the pokie waiting room for which there were about a dozen seats. My client’s ex was also there, and he was also sitting in the waiting room. And where was he sitting- two seats away from my client. And where was I sitting? In the middle of course. I am so glad nothing went wrong.
Thank God for a new, safer courthouse.
Now for the Ministerial Media Release:
Sandgate Courthouse Delivers New Brand of Justice to Local Community
Sandgate’s new courthouse will deliver an even higher level of service to the local community, with a greater focus on clients and the latest in justice technology, Attorney-General and Minister for Justice Kerry Shine and Member for Sandgate Vicki Darling said today.
Mr Shine officially opened the $4.7 million complex this morning, saying it marked the start of an exciting new chapter in the court’s history which dated back to 1880, the same year the bayside village was declared a town.
“Sandgate now has one of the most modern courthouses in Queensland,” Mr Shine said.
“The design marks a significant departure from the past, when there was more of a fortress mentality and a heavy focus on the person in the dock.
“Security is still important and the new precinct is safer than ever, but these days there is a much greater emphasis on the needs of our more deserving clients, particularly those who have been on the receiving end of criminal activity.
“The new courthouse includes a waiting room for the victims of domestic violence, and another equipped with closed-circuit television for vulnerable witnesses, including children and victims of sexual assault.
“This enables them to give their evidence without the added trauma of having to face the alleged offenders in open court.”
Mr Shine said video links also enable evidence to be taken from witnesses at other locations, including those being held in custody around the state.
“That avoids the need to transport prisoners to and from court for minor proceedings such as mentions and adjournments.
“The project also involved construction of a secure link to the adjoining police station, which is monitored with electronic surveillance equipment.”
Ms Darling said the courthouse opening was a great day for the region.
“This is just the first of a number of significant events in our region in coming days with Cabinet to visit Bribie Island and Redcliffe on Sunday and Monday,” Ms Darling said.
“This new court house provides interview rooms for lawyers, including Legal Aid and the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Legal Service, officers from other government agencies, such as Corrective Services and Child Safety, and various community groups.
“There is also a mediation room to assist in the resolution of less serious disputes without having to call on a Magistrate, as well as the courthouse registry,” she said.
“Another room has been set aside for visiting Justices of the Peace to provide free community services such as signing and verifying documents, an initiative we are very keen to develop further during the course of this year.”
Mr Shine said the building’s design included many ‘green’ features, such as sensor lights that monitor and react to the level of natural light outside, the large skylight in the foyer, which also reduces electricity use, and a 6,000 litre rainwater tank plumbed into the public toilets.
“The Queensland Government committed $66 million this financial year to build and upgrade justice infrastructure around the state,” he said.
“In addition to Sandgate, that includes funding for other new courthouses at Pine Rivers and Ipswich, as well as the new Supreme and District Courts to be built in George Street.
“There are many more projects underway elsewhere in Queensland and this new precinct is an excellent example of how that investment is making a very real difference where it matters most – in our local communities.”
Last financial year, the Sandgate Courthouse dealt with more than 5,200 criminal charges and nearly 200 civil claims.