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21 October 2019

Concerns about court closure taken to Attorney General

Member for South West Coast Roma Britnell has written to Attorney General Jill Hennessy in relation to potentially serious situations the temporary closure of the Portland court may create.

The court will be closed for upgrade works from January until June next year, with cases to be heard in Warrnambool. Ms Britnell said while the work was necessary, it has the potential to create a significant issue for victims of crime seeking intervention orders and those dealing with family violence matters.

Ms Britnell said she has written to Attorney General Jill Hennessy to share her concerns and the concerns of lawyers who have contacted Ms Britnell’s office.    

Ms Britnell said those who do not drive would be forced to use the limited bus services to and from Warrnambool each day.

“With only one bus arriving in Warrnambool before the court start time, there is potential for perpetrators and victims to be travelling together,” she said.

“Given the magistrates court deals with family violence matters, there is real potential for a situation that’s not at all acceptable to develop. I’ve asked the Attorney General to review the arrangements and put safeguards in place as a matter of priority.

“I’m also concerned that another burden is being added to women in an already stressful situation. For mothers, they will have to arrange care for their children while they travel to and from Warrnambool.

“We should not be further disadvantaging victims of crime, especially family violence, or be exposing them to situations where they do not feel safe.”