Issued: Saturday, 3 October 2015
One of the first Children's Courts in NSW will undergo a $30 million upgrade and resume sitting more than three decades after it closed, Attorney General Gabrielle Upton and Minister for Finance, Services and Property, Dominic Perrottet announced today.
Government Property NSW has finalised the $8 million purchase of the old Metropolitan Children's Court site on Albion Street in Surry Hills. The building will undergo a $30 million re-design and renovation over the next two years. It will become the specialist Children's Court for inner Sydney when Glebe's Bidura Children's Court closes in July 2017.
Ms Upton said the new and improved Children's Court will make accessing justice easier for vulnerable children and young people.
"The children and young people who come before the Children's Court are often some of the most vulnerable members of our community. They need extra care and attention. State-of-the-art facilities like Audio-Visual Link technology and a private room for witnesses will help reduce the stress of being part of the justice process," Ms Upton said.
The extensive renovation will deliver four courtrooms (compared to Bidura's two), state-of-the art Audio Visual Link facilities, a private room for vulnerable witnesses to give evidence via closed-circuit cameras, facilities for alternative dispute resolution, a holding cell complex and interview rooms for the legal profession and rooms for support agencies.
Designed by prominent government architect, Walter Liberty Vernon, the federation-style courthouse's historic façade will be preserved in the renovation which will be carried out in consultation with heritage authorities. The Metropolitan Children's Court heard thousands of cases between 1911 and 1983. It also operated as a shelter for boys on remand until 1980.
Mr Perrottet said the sale of Bidura in January 2015 for $33 million made it possible for the Children's Court to find a more suitable inner city home.
"This is a great example of the government making better use of its assets. By unlocking capital that is tied up in an unsuitable asset, we can now fund a new, purpose-built facility," Mr Perrottet said.
The Children's Court is a specialist court to deal with criminal cases, applications for apprehended violence orders, applications for compulsory schooling orders and cases involving the care and protection of children.