The Law Society of NSW and Macarthur Law Society have jointly called for a new multijurisdiction court to address the urgent need for extra resources in the Macarthur region.
The calls follow a recent public forum — Access to Justice, held in Campbelltown — at which residents, practitioners and community groups discussed the critical infrastructure needs of the region for the future administration of justice.
According to Macarthur Law Society president Brett McGrath, current court facilities can no longer handle the high number of criminal offences heard at the Campbelltown District Court, which also covers Liverpool and Cabramatta.
“These areas are among the state’s hot spots for domestic violence incidents,” he said.
“They also have high rates of serious drug and robbery offences.”
Law Society of NSW president Doug Humphries said justice facilities in the Macarthur region were overloaded, causing “unmanageable delays and costs for residents”.
Further, he noted that the increasing demand for court resources and legal services had arisen from exponential population growth in the region.
“The three local court complexes at Campbelltown, Camden and Picton are overflowing with matters and are unable to keep up with increased demand,” he explained.
“Residents and court users must also travel long distances to Wollongong, Parramatta or Sydney to resolve family disputes as there is no Federal Circuit Court in the region.”
“This adds significant stress and cost to families,” he argued.
Mr McGrath added that restricted sitting hours and inadequate security facilities at Camden and Picton Local Courts meant that these courts could not assist in addressing a backlog of cases, both criminal and civil.
“Both these courts lack a permanent police presence and do not have security checkpoints that are sufficient to deal with many matters, which is a safety concern for all court users and victims of crime,” he said.
There is an urgent need, he concluded, for investment in court facilities.
“The court facilities we have are unable to keep up with demand of the current population, which is why we require urgent and priority investment in new court facilities to keep up with future demand,” he said.