Bendigo lawyers have formed a working group to evaluate the future of the city’s historic law courts.
About seven members of the Bendigo Law Association formed the group last month and have been meeting on a regular basis.
Bendigo Law Association president Michelle O’Sullivan said concerns about acoustics, privacy and the safety of court staff, solicitors and the public would be paramount to the group’s discussions.
“There is certainly a need to evaluate the current situation,’’ Ms O’Sullivan said.
The historic building in Pall Mall has come under intense scrutiny from lawyers, police, magistrates and the public who have called for the courthouse to be refurbished.
There have also been calls to move the Magistrates Court to a different facility, with the old Bendigo Advertiser building across the road being named as an option.
The current court building houses Magistrates Court hearings five days a week, as well as Children’s Court, VCAT and Supreme Court hearings.
County Court sittings are usually held next door, but they are occasionally moved to the old building.
Last year a County Court sexual assault trial was held in the old building and caused much angst for the victim and her family.
Following the trial the victim’s grandparents told the Bendigo Advertiser there were no provisions for victims who were left outside the court where the defendant often walked past them.
The family also questioned the use of an old CD player to play a recording of the defendant’s police interview to the court, saying the sound was inadequate and that the jury were barely able to hear.
Concerns have also be raised regarding disability access to the court, with wheelchair and scooter access to the main court, courtroom 2, only available through the rear door from outside.
The Bendigo Advertiser contacted the Department of Justice for comment.