A major technology upgrade at Singleton Courthouse will begin this week to boost efficient access to justice in the Hunter region.
Newly-elected Upper Hunter MP David Layzell said the state-of-the-art Audio Visual Link (AVL) and recording system would enhance services at the heritage facility.
“The works will bring our beautiful 153-year-old courthouse right up to date,” he explained.
“It is heartening to see this investment of more than $350,000 into Singleton Courthouse, which will enable a significant improvement for justice in our community.”
AVL enables defendants in custody to appear before the court via a video link from prisons, reducing the costs of transporting them to the premises.
Witnesses unable to physically attend court, including those who are interstate or overseas, can also appear in court this way and victims of sexual abuse or domestic violence have the option to use AVL to give their evidence.
Attorney General and Minister for Prevention of Domestic and Sexual Violence Mark Speakman said the NSW Government was committed to improving accessibility to the justice system.
“Installing AVL is just one of the ways we aim to increase efficiency and access to justice in our state,” he stated.
The AVL upgrade is part of the Department of Communities and Justice’s $100 million Sustaining Critical Infrastructure Program.
Singleton Local Court matters have been heard at Muswellbrook since January, while face-to-face registry services have continued.
However, they’ll resume proceedings at Singleton following installation of the new technology.
Due to the heritage status of the courtroom, specialised tradespeople will prepare the courtroom before the AVL fit-out, which will take three weeks.
The premises, in Elizabeth Street, was designed by colonial architect James Barnet in 1868, replacing an earlier building in Burdekin Park.
Mr Layzell noted the importance of the justice system to local communities.
“This is a strong reminder of the NSW Government’s commitment to building a safer and stronger Upper Hunter electorate for us all to live and work in,” he said.