The Victorian Government has invested millions of dollars in court security and video facilities, but the problem of victims and offenders coming face-to-face has persisted.
The Loddon Campaspe Community Legal Centre has raised the alarm about family violence victims feeling vulnerable while waiting to be checked by security at smaller courts.
Some legal professionals have expressed concern that their clients are still at risk because of a lack of space, despite some safety measures being introduced at court buildings.
Court security has improved at the larger Bendigo court complex in recent times, and a metal detector has been installed at the Castlemaine court.
But community lawyer Rob Southgate, who often travels to Maryborough, has still noticed tension at that local court.
"They have a similar security system set up there but obviously it's a smaller court, so you still tend to have applicants and respondents standing side-by-side," he said.
"Then you get into court and the court's not overly large.
Court security issue raised in Parliament
A Liberal State MP has invited Victoria's Attorney-General to visit the rundown Maryborough courthouse, to further push the case for repairs.
Member for Ripon Louise Staley, whose state electorate covers the town of Maryborough, raised the issue of court safety in the Victorian Parliament last week.
"The Maryborough court is by far the busiest and in the poorest condition," she said.
Ms Staley said the building needed urgent works, but Court Services Victoria said it had already installed a registry counter and entry screening to create a safer environment.
The agency responsible for the state's courts said it was conducting ongoing assessment and priority maintenance upgrades.
She said she had spoken to victims who found the court experience difficult and confronting.
"We have victims, perpetrators, the police and lawyers all milling around out the front of the court because there is no way to divide them with separate doors," Ms Staley said.
"Unfortunately, Central Goldfields remains with one of the highest rates of family violence."
Royal commission recommended court upgrades
This week marks four years since the death of 11-year-old Luke Batty, who was killed by his father on Victoria's Mornington Peninsula during cricket practice.
His mother Rosie Batty became a high-profile campaigner against domestic violence, and her son's death triggered a royal commission into family violence.
When Victoria's royal commission into family violence handed down its final report in 2016, it recommended safety upgrades at regional courts in Victoria.
The Kyneton court has closed for renovations until mid-2018, with matters being heard at the nearby Castlemaine court instead.
Security officers and screening was established late last year at Maryborough, but some legal practitioners still think the court needs further upgrades.
"Obviously the officers are doing a sterling job," Mr Southgate said of the security staff.
"They try their hardest to try to make sure everyone is appropriately distributed around the court, but obviously the court not being overly large makes that challenge," he said.
Room for technology improvementsMr Southgate also said there had been some trouble with technology systems in the courts.
"I think it was recommended that there would be video links to court if indeed an applicant was feeling a bit apprehensive and didn't want to turn up to court," he said.
"They could use that as an alternative means of having their story heard."
He wants to see more encouragement for victims to give evidence remotely during court proceedings if it made them feel more comfortable.
Victoria Legal Aid has also suggested technology could make the legal process smoother for applicants.
Associate director of family violence response Leanne Sinclair said she wanted court users to have legal services available at their fingertips through their phones or computers.
"We've seen more recently the rollout of online applications for intervention orders," she said.
"A person can get onto their computer and complete the forms necessary to initiate an application for an intervention order.
"Hopefully in the coming months that will be more widespread across Victoria."
Specialist units at Victoria Police
From June, Victoria Police's 34 existing family violence units will become investigative centres with dedicated detectives and practitioners embedded into teams.
Over the next three years, these specialists detectives will be trained to respond to high-risk or escalating cases of family violence.
A police spokesman said the trained investigators would understand the complexities of family violence, ensure effective risk assessment, evidence collection and identify primary aggressors.
The statewide rollout of the specialist family violence policing model will be completed by June 2020.
This article was written by Stephanie Corsetti and copied from here.