As a result of the easing of COVID-Safe settings for Courts and Tribunals, made under the directions of the Chief Health Officer, the Children’s Court of Victoria will soon recommence hearing most criminal cases in person.
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From 26 April 2021, first hearings for young people who have just been taken into custody (“first remands”) will be in person. Most other hearings in criminal matters will be in person from 17 May. We have issued a new a Practice Direction that sets out how we will hear criminal cases.
The Children’s Court hears cases at its own specialist courts in Melbourne CBD, Broadmeadows and Moorabbin, and at metropolitan and regional Magistrates’ Court locations. These new settings apply state-wide.
All people attending court will be required to adhere to the COVID-Safe principles. Anyone entering the Court will be required to access a QR code to record their attendance. Anyone who does not have a smart phone will be assisted to record their contact details. The Court will be regularly cleaning all areas and will continue to provide hand sanitiser for visitors and staff.
The Melbourne, Broadmeadows and Moorabbin Children’s Courts will also limit entry to parties, lawyers, media representatives, services and staff.
The Children’s Court is grateful for the work of its staff and Magistrates, its stakeholders, and all court users, for their collaborative work over the past year. While it has been challenging, together we have brought in a number of initiatives such as online hearings that have improved access to courts. We look forward to continuing with some hearings online where it is appropriate to do so.
We are now working on the settings for our Family Division and Family Violence cases.
Why are you returning to Court, why not keep everything online?
Retuning young people to court will help them to connect with lawyers and support services.
While we have found online hearings to be effective and fair, we can hear more cases when people are all together in court so this will assist us with a backlog of cases that we could not hear last year.
Isn’t there a 1.5 metre rule?
The Chief Health Officer has removed the 1.5 metre rule and the ‘density quotients’ for Courts and Tribunals for people who are there for the ‘ordinary business’ of the Court. That includes people who have a case at court, lawyers, court staff and support services.
Do I have to go to Court for a case in the Criminal Division?
If you have a court date for a criminal law case then from 17th May you have to go to Court unless your lawyer or a court registrar tells you that your case is online. You can be arrested if you do not go to Court on your court date.