The doors of Camden Courthouse swung shut in February for the foreseeable future, after concerns were raised about the safety and privacy of crime victims fronting up to the courthouse for hearings.
Family lawyers, who frequented the court regularly, told LSJ the courtroom was small, there was very little security and it lacked audio-visual technology to enable victims of crime to give their testimony in an environment removed from their aggressors. Domestic violence victims were often questioned by lawyers while sitting just metres from their attackers.
A spokesperson for the Department of Communities and Justice did not provide a specific response to these concerns from LSJ but confirmed the court had consulted with a variety of users and received no objections from stakeholders when reaching the closure decision.
“Following consultation with court users including local domestic violence victim advocates, sittings at Camden Local Court will relocate from February 15. After this date, matters will commence and be finalised at Campbelltown Local Court,” she said.
“Campbelltown’s court capacity, security and access to Audio Visual Link (AVL) and remote witness rooms provide a more suitable court environment. The safety features include AVL facilities in all courtrooms, AVL legal suites and a designated safe room for victims. Support services are also available to victims and other court users.”
Law Society President Juliana Warner said moving Camden’s increasing workload to the much-larger Campbelltown court complex was “another example of the growing pressure on courts in the Macarthur region”.
“While governments have recognised this by pledging resources to a business case for a new justice precinct in the area, the Law Society has and will continue to lobby the NSW Government for increased resources for courts in Sydney’s south west and across the state more generally,” she said.
The Law Society has led a community-backed campaign for a new court precinct to be built in southwest Sydney since 2018. In October, a milestone was reached as local, state and federal governments jointly pledged to create a business case investigating the potential of such a precinct, with a report due by the end of this financial year.