“Unsafe” court needs revamp: lawyers
LAUNCESTON'S family court has been deemed unsafe by legal experts with victims of domestic violence sharing the same access and confined waiting space as their abusers.
Law Society of Tasmania president Evan Hughes said even circuit court judges needed to use the same lift, stairs and entry and exit point as the parties they are dealing with.
The court is housed in the ANZ Building in George St and Mr Hughes said a new fit-for-purpose location needs to be found.
If that is not viable he says "serious changes" to be made to ease what he says is a significant risk to safety.
"In a number of cases, family violence orders have been breached in the waiting room with alleged perpetrators of family violence verballing threatening or approaching their alleged victims," Mr Hughes said.
"The court is on the third floor and there is one access point and no security until parties exit the lift. The circuit court judge also has to use the same access.
"On duty days there can be over 100 parties in a shared waiting area over the course of a day. The infrastructure set-up requires urgent attention because it is simply not safe.
"The safety of children and families must always be the paramount priority."
Law Council of Australia President Arthur Moses has joined Mr Hughes in his call for improved resourcing at the Launceston Family Court.
"Australia's family law system provides important specialist services for families and children at their most vulnerable," Mr Moses said.
"Unfortunately the courts and the Australians they serve are consistently let down by under-resourcing of the system. The Launceston Family Court in a prime example."