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Publication date: Tuesday, 2 February 2016
NSW Attorney General Gabrielle Upton opened the $17.5 million upgrade to the Wollongong Courthouse today, over 130 years after the James Barnet-designed building was opened in 1885.
Wollongong Courthouse is now one of the largest and most technologically advanced regional courthouses in NSW. The new facilities provide a benchmark for the delivery of justice services in the state.
The new facilities include seven courtrooms, one of which is the heritage courtroom with an elevated public gallery, in a tribute to the Colonial Architect's 'Victorian Free Classical Architecture' original courthouse design. Six of the seven courtrooms have large LCD screens that can broadcast bail applications from prisons, as well as testimony from witnesses remotely.
The courthouse has new facilities for jurors including a new jury room. This means that in the higher courts three juries can sit at a time, rather than two. There is a new discrete entrance to the courthouse for empanelled jurors.
The court registry has been redesigned to provide simple, faster and easier access to court services, with a separate room for private or lengthy inquiries.
Many of the new courthouse features are designed to support victims of crime and other witnesses, from the very moment they arrive at court. A new courthouse entrance for protected witnesses is separate from the main, public entrance. Two new private and secure rooms allow victims of sexual assault to give their evidence 'in camera', away from the glare of their alleged attacker. A comfortable safe room for victims of domestic and family violence provides a space where they can wait before their case is heard, and from which they can enter the courtroom without risk of passing the accused. Internal pathways in the building have been designed to reduce the risk of court participants coming into contact with prisoners.
The entrance of the courthouse has been returned to Market Street, with the addition of a modern glass facade and a lift and handrails for accessibility.
Today's opening was attended by representatives of the judiciary, the government and the legal profession. Court sittings have recommenced.