A new justice precinct built to serve southwest Sydney’s growing population is one step closer to becoming a reality, after years of campaigning by lawyers and the Law Society of NSW.
The Federal Government, NSW Government and Campbelltown City Council today issued a joint statement, pledging $1 million to create a business case investigating the potential development of a “community and justice precinct” in Campbelltown in Sydney’s southwest. The proposed precinct would house state and federal courts as well as other community services in the same location, offering new job opportunities as well as faster, and closer, justice services for residents in one of Australia’s fastest-growing regions.
NSW Attorney-General Mark Speakman said the proposal would alleviate travel time and expense for the expanding population.
“The people of South Western Sydney face significant stress and cost at an already tumultuous time in their lives by having to travel to Parramatta or Sydney CBD to access court services,” Speakman said.
“This initiative has the potential to expand Campbelltown Courthouse to include additional Local, District and Children’s Court facilities. As well as creating faster access to justice, this proposed precinct could improve efficiency by co-locating justice services and possible community services.”
The pledge comes 18 months after the Law Society launched a community-backed campaign for a new court precinct to be built in southwest Sydney to relieve lengthening delays and growing demand for family law and domestic violence services. This campaign gathered widespread support and involved a joint alliance with local councils, regional law societies, the NSW Bar Association, the NSW Police Association, Women’s Domestic Violence Court Advocacy Service (WDVCAS), Macarthur Legal Centre and the Greater Sydney Commission among others.
The Law Society has long advocated for improved court services in the region.
President of the Law Society of NSW Richard Harvey welcomed the $1 million announcement and said there had never been a more pressing time to enhance and streamline court facilities in the region.
“The Law Society is pleased that all levels of government are working together to ensure access to justice for the residents of southwestern Sydney,” he said.
“Current court facilities in the region are out-dated, under-resourced, unsafe and fail to meet basic community needs. Three courts in the region, Camden, Campbelltown and Picton, are either at capacity or not equipped to manage the current backlogs in criminal and civil cases.
“Victims of crime and people seeking resolutions to business disputes and family law disputes are being forced to wait inordinate lengths of time for justice or travel into the Sydney CBD to have their matters heard.”
President Harvey noted that the population of southwest Sydney is predicted to balloon in coming years – making the demand for a multi-purpose precinct even more urgent.
“By the time the Western Sydney International Nancy Bird-Walton Airport at Badgerys Creek is open in 2026, the population south of the airport is expected to have grown to nearly 900,000 and by 2036, it is expected to reach 1.1 million people,” he said.
In 2018, the Greater Sydney Commission released a draft district plan for western Sydney, which estimated the population in the Macarthur and Campbelltown region could double in size over 10 years.
The strategic business case follows an earlier Memorandum of Understanding signed by Campbelltown City Council and the NSW Government to examine the possibilities of a South Western Sydney Justice Precinct.
It will provide decision makers with an early indication of the best options for any future investment and is due for completion this financial year.
Read the full statement from the Law Society of NSW here.