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Children's Court in Broadmeadows

Briefs

Cite as: December 2015 89 (12) LIJ, p.10

A new complex in Melbourne’s north is set to transform the work of the Children’s Court with a remarkable design and innovative approach to difficult child protection matters.

The $11.4 million Children’s Court complex in Broadmeadows will deal with child protection applications brought by the Department of Human Services (DHS) when children are considered at risk.

Children’s Court of Victoria president Judge Amanda Chambers said the Court would provide a child-friendly environment as well as trialing less adversarial court processes, including:

  • a 12-month case docketing pilot system that ensures a child’s case is dealt with by the same magistrate each time
  • the family drug treatment court that involves a judiciary-led multi-disciplinary team working with DHS and drug and alcohol counselling supports with the aim of reunifying parents with their young children
  • a more targeted and culturally appropriate response to Koori families, including a Koori family division day and a Koori services coordinator to support families.
  • The Court’s physical building has also been designed to provide a less intimidating court experience and is a welcoming, colourful, light and modern space.

    “When you walk into the complex you wouldn’t initially view it as a court,” Judge Chambers said. “The whole physical environment of the Court has been designed to really facilitate the Court doing things better and a different way.”

    The Children’s Court and DHS collaborated with the Alannah and Madeline Foundation to create part of the complex, named the Cubby House, which provides a play area that includes games, toys, books, a television and garden for children who are taken into emergency care and are awaiting decisions about their welfare.

    The Court project came out of the Protecting Victoria’s Vulnerable Children Inquiry chaired by former Supreme Court judge Philip Cummins. It is the first children’s court outside the CBD.

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