Criminal cases in the ACT are set to be heard in the new joint court precinct from today (15 October), with stage 1 of the $160 million court upgrade now officially complete.
The new facilities include six courtrooms, chambers, a library, a new public entry, and contemporary jury facilities designed to maximise comfort during court deliberations. The building also features a new dedicated remote witness zone with seven new video conference suites and waiting areas, for comfort, privacy and safety of those giving evidence.
New technology is a major feature of the new court facilities, with all courts equipped with state-of-the-art systems that allow multimedia evidence to be broadcast to all participants and the public gallery simultaneously.
Attorney-General Gordon Ramsay said the first stage of the ACT’s new courts brings Canberra’s criminal justice system into the 21st century.
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“The new facilities will help deliver a more timely, transparent, and accessible justice system, which is especially important as Canberra’s population continues to grow,” he said. “We are now able to ensure that everyone involved in a particular case is quite literally on the same page.”
Work will continue in the new entry area over the next few months to refurbish the public lobby of the old Magistrates Court. However, Mr Ramsay said it will not impact on the move of the Supreme Court into the new facilities.
“The courts will continue to transform, with two feature artworks to be installed next month, further work to be done around the façade, and landscaping to be completed around the court precinct,” he said.
The existing heritage court building will undergo a refurbishment under Stage 2 of the project, and two courtrooms, mediation suites, hearing rooms and spaces for justice support groups will be constructed during this phase.
It is anticipated that stage 2 will be completed midway through next year.