The upcoming Victorian budget will commit $14.7 million to the replacement of old videoconferencing technology in the state’s courts, including $8.1 million to be spent in the coming year.
Just 24 of the 53 magistrates courts in Victoria are equipped with video technology, which allows interstate and overseas, vulnerable or immobile victims to give evidence remotely.
Six of the 24 courts are running obsolete technology, and equipment in another 17 is nearing end of life.
The magistrates court network processes 90 percent of sentences handed out in Victoria, and conducted 2000 hours of this court time via video-link in 2014.
State Attorney-General Martin Pakula described the existing network as “at capacity”.
“This major shot in the arm for our justice system will better protect vulnerable witnesses – particularly those escaping family violence – giving them the confidence they need to give crucial evidence in key hearings, “ he said in a statement.
The upgrade is set to replace the court’s existing ISDN network with a modern IP-based platform in just over half of the court sites, and will upgrade video equipment in the remainder.
The resulting bandwidth increase is expected to boost the court network’s capacity to run video calls concurrently by 300 percent.
Work on metropolitan and regional court systems is expected to be completed by August 2016 and rural sites will follow in March 2017.