Courthouses in Macarthur are so outdated that domestic violence victims are being forced to wait for their hearings in the same place as their abusers.
Coordinator Tanya Whitehouse said locals were waiting up to nine months to have their domestic violence cases heard at Camden and Picton courthouses, when best practise dictated a three-month wait.
“It’s traumatic enough going through the courts, let alone waiting nine months to have your story heard,” Ms Whitehouse said.
“And then to have the victim wait outside the court with the defendant?
“It’s just not good enough.”
Ms Whitehouse said the advocacy service received an average of 87 referrals from police each week, an increase of 7.5 per cent in the past six months.
She said the most recent Bureau of Crime Statistics and Research information revealed there had been a 44 per cent increase in domestic violence incidents reported to police in the 2570 postcode in the past two years.
“At the rate this area is growing it is definitely going to get worse,” she said.
“Safety is a real concern, for the victims, defendants and the legal counsel at these courthouses.
“They are 150 years old and there’s barely any security.”
Ms Whitehouse said, with Camden Court only sitting twice a month, there was no way the system could ever catch up with the amount of domestic violence cases in Macarthur unless something changed.
She said a multi-jurisdictional justice precinct – which would bring together local courts, district courts, family court, emergency services and more in one place – would have a massive impact on was desperately needed.
An alliance of local councils, law societies, emergency service representatives and other community organisations is seeking a $300-$500 million government commitment to develop the precinct.