Leaders of Victoria’s legal profession have responded to a multi-million dollar justice budget announcement, welcoming a much needed funding boost.
The Victorian Government revealed an additional $257.4 million, which Victorian Bar president Dr Matt Collins QC (pictured) said would help ease the caseload burden of the courts.
As part of the budget, more funding has been made available for additional judges and magistrates in Victoria.
Fifteen new magistrates will be appointed in the Magistrates’ Court and three magistrates will help establish the new Bail and Remand Court, which was set up following the recommendations from the Bail Act Review.
“Our courts and judiciary have been under increasing and unsustainable pressure,” Dr Collins said.
“More magistrates, judges and prosecutors will allow cases to be heard more quickly.”
Belinda Wilson, president of the Law Institute of Victoria (LIV), added that the money would reduce court backlogs and reduce stress for those involved in the courts.
“The LIV is pleased the State Government is providing an extra $128.9 million to increase court capacity, including a new Supreme Court judge, two Country Court judges and eighteen new magistrates,” Ms Wilson said.
“An extra $20 million is going into Werribee and Bendigo law court development, plus a $5 million upgrade at Echuca Law Courts.”
The additional investment in the state’s courts will also provide funding for additional support for victims of crime.
The package includes an extra allocation for $37.3 million for Legal Aid, $21.8 million to also support the prosecution of serious crimes and employ more prosecutors.
“More police and prosecutors, and changes to bail and sentencing laws, make legal aid more important than ever. Our justice system works most efficiently when accused persons have access to high quality legal advice and representation,” Dr Collins said.
The LIV also lauded the state government’s commitment to tackle mental health and wellbeing issues in the community, with a $705 million announcement.
“Members of the legal profession struggling with mental health issues will be able to access new services as a result of this funding,” Ms Wilson said.
Ms Wilson also noted important funding commitments to address elder abuse and secure the state’s public aged care services. A total of $32.6 million was announced to go towards addressing elder abuse and secure the state’s public aged care services. A further $6 million has been allocated to tackle elder abuse and extend a trial of an integrated care model.