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Your questions answered during COVID-19

Answers to frequently asked questions from people coming to court, from people affected by family violence, from lawyers and from police.

 

Information for people coming to court

Is my local court open?

Yes, all Magistrates’ Courts remain open

Because of COVID-19, some of our courts are reducing face-to-face registry service on some days, but a registrar is always available by phone and always in attendance on court sitting days. 

I was due to appear in court this week – do I have to turn up?

In most cases, no.

Most non-urgent matters and contested committal hearings are being adjourned to a later date.

Since 24 March, the court has been sending text messages to people on summons or bail with matters in the summary stream, asking them to visit this website where we let them know their case will be adjourned to the nominal date of 15 June. If your case has been adjourned to 15 June and you are on bail, your bail will be extended without the need for you to appear.

You do not need to come to court on 15 June. Instead, we will send you a hearing notice with a new date for later in the year. You must attend court on the new date in the hearing notice (that will be later in the year).

From now on, we will no longer adjourn matters to the nominal date of 15 June and instead, will send you a hearing notice with a new date that will be later in the year. If you are on bail, your bail will be extended without the need for you to appear. You must attend court on the new date in the hearing notice (that will be later in the year).

You must attend court if your matter is a:

  • filing hearing (unless you have a lawyer representing you)
  • committal mention (unless you have a lawyer representing you)
  • committal hearing that is a plea of guilty (unless you have a lawyer representing you).

If you need legal assistance you can contact Victoria Legal Aid on 1300 792 387.

I’m on bail – will I be arrested if I don’t turn up to court?

Not if you have received a communication from the court or your lawyer has told you your case is being adjourned.

In these cases, your bail will be extended without you coming to court.

If you are unsure contact the court where you were bailed to attend.

You must attend court if your matter is a:

  • filing hearing (unless you have a lawyer representing you)
  • committal mention (unless you have a lawyer representing you)
  • committal hearing that is a plea of guilty (unless you have a lawyer representing you).

How will I be notified of the new court date and when?

If you are represented by a lawyer, the court will give them your new hearing date.

If you don’t have a lawyer, we will send you a hearing notice, so it is important that we have your current contact details. 

If you are not contacted, you can use the Find a court date function on our website. Check the website regularly.

I want to bring a person to support me in court – is that OK?

Only if it is absolutely necessary.

No one without urgent business before the court is allowed to enter our buildings as we try to protect our staff and other court users from COVID-19.

I need to attend the court to list a licence eligibility order. Is there a way to do this online?

Before attending court, contact VicRoads to check whether you need to go to court. Many of these matters are now dealt with by VicRoads. If VicRoads cannot assist you contact your local court. 

I’ve been charged with a driving offence – do I have to attend?

Most driving offences are summary stream matters and those will be adjourned to later in the year. You will be advised of the new date in the coming months. 

You must attend on that date. If you are in any doubt you should speak to your lawyer or contact the court where your case is listed.

Is judicial monitoring continuing?

Where possible, telephone contact is being utilised to make sure that magistrates can continue monitoring. Contact your court to discuss your individual circumstances.

Can I still be referred to CISP for bail support?

Yes. You can still be referred to the CISP program if you are in custody or on bail.

What services are CISP providing?

CISP is currently providing case management and referrals to services via telephone.

Community service providers will also provide support to clients via telephone.

This is different to our standard in-person services and may mean that in some cases access to services is limited.

I am on the CISP/ARC program – do I still need to participate?

Yes. It is important you keep in contact with your case manager by telephone.

I am on the CISP/ARC program – do I need to attend court to see my case manager?

No. You do not need to attend court to see your case manager but you must keep in contact with your case manager by telephone.

I am on the CISP/ARC program – how can I contact my case manager?

Please contact your case manager via your local courthouse. Contact details can be found here.

I have been the victim of a crime – can I get urgent financial assistance?

You can apply for financial assistance online by clicking Apply Online.

You can also download an Application for Financial Assistance Form from the Tribunal’s website and file it with your local Magistrates’ Court.  

Prior to finalising a claim, the Tribunal can consider the payment of urgent interim expenses such as medical, counselling and safety-related expenses.

An application for urgent expenses should be made in writing to the Tribunal setting out the reasons for the interim expense and enclosing receipts, tax invoices and other documentation in support of the expenses claimed.

I have been the victim of a crime – I have already lodged a claim for financial assistance. What’s happening to it?

The Tribunal will continue to process applications from victims of crime at all courts across Victoria however, the changes to the way we operate may mean that some processes take longer than usual.

The Tribunal will continue to review files and correspondence to progress applications and urgent matters will be a priority. Please contact the Tribunal by email to obtain updates to your application.

I have been the victim of a crime – what kind of documents do I need to file in support of a claim and what's the best way for me to file them?

The Tribunal requests that the applicant and/or solicitor file a completed Statement of Claim form and supportive documents within three months of filing an application. Further time can be allowed if needed.

The Tribunal will usually obtain information from Victoria Police regarding the incident and will seek material from the applicant and/or solicitor in support of the types of expenses sought, such as invoices, receipts and quotes. Further information such as medical or psychological reports may also be required.

Where possible please file material with the Tribunal by email.

I have been the victim of a crime – how long will it take for me to receive my award once an order is made?

Given the large volume, it can take up to six weeks from the time an award of financial assistance is made and award notices are sent, to the time your payment is received. Providing the Tribunal with your direct bank deposit details will enable faster payment so please ensure your EFT details are included on all award requests.

The Tribunal can process urgent expenses more quickly when bank deposit information is provided.

 

 

Information for people affected by family violence

I need to apply for a family violence intervention order – can you help me?

Yes. Family violence intervention orders (FVIOs) will continue to be heard by the court.

You do not need to come to court to apply for an FVIO.

You can download an application form from our website or apply for an order at your local Magistrates’ Court.

You can now lodge an online application for a family violence intervention order to be heard at many of our courts:

  • Bairnsdale
  • Benalla
  • Bendigo
  • Broadmeadows
  • Cobram
  • Colac
  • Corryong
  • Dandenong
  • Dromana
  • Frankston
  • Geelong
  • Hamilton
  • Heidelberg
  • Korumburra
  • Latrobe Valley (Morwell)
  • Mansfield
  • Myrtleford
  • Neighbourhood Justice Centre (Collingwood)
  • Orbost (Omeo)
  • Portland
  • Ringwood
  • Sale
  • Seymour
  • Shepparton
  • Sunshine
  • Wangaratta
  • Warrnambool
  • Werribee
  • Wodonga
  • Wonthaggi.

Once the court receives your application, the family violence registrar will call you to explain the next steps.

If it is not safe for you to complete your application online, call the court to discuss your options.

The court is working towards making online applications available at more local courts.

I feel like I’m at risk from family violence. What should I do?

Call 000 if you are in immediate danger.

If there is no immediate danger, contact your local police station or nearest court.

The court can provide support and advice over the phone, and connect you with support services.

Are the Specialist Family Violence Courts still open?

Yes. You can still receive support and advice over the phone, including: 

  • free legal advice and support
  • talking to family violence practitioners.

Where possible, family violence matters will still be heard by a dedicated family violence magistrate.

How can I vary, extend or revoke a FVIO if I am required to stay at home?

Find out how you can make an application to vary, extend or revoke a family violence intervention order on our website.  

You can call the court to discuss your options.

If your application is urgent and you feel unsafe, you can call 000 and police can make the application for you.

Once the court receives your application, the family violence registrar will call you to explain the next steps. If the police made the application for you, they will also receive a call.

What if I can’t attend court for a FVIO application or hearing?

If you can’t come into court, you can participate in court hearings via phone or email. Court staff will contact you by phone, so it is important we have your current contact details.

You can email the court with information about how you want the intervention order to proceed.

For example, if the respondent agrees to the intervention order being made, they can email the court and a copy of the email will be placed on the file for the magistrate’s consideration.

How can urgent requests be made?

Priority will be given to urgent, high risk family violence matters.

You can make your application online or by calling police on 000. The court will contact you once your application is received.

Contact the court if your circumstances have changed since the last hearing and you need to change your order.

Is it safe for me to come to court?

The court has made several changes that will help protect your safety and ensure your matter is heard as quickly as possible. Changes include:

  • talking to your practitioner on the phone rather than in person
  • using video link technology so you don’t need to go into the courtroom
  • having your matter heard by phone rather than in person (where appropriate).

Can Victoria Police still make FVIO applications?

Yes. FVIO applications made by Victoria Police will still be heard by the court.

Will family violence practitioners still be available?

Yes. The court will still make referrals to all family violence practitioners. The practitioner will call you once they have received the referral.

Will legal advice still be available?

Yes. The court will continue to make referrals to Victoria Legal Aid and/or Community Legal Centres for free legal advice.

The lawyer will provide advice by phone.

Are contested hearings going ahead?

Matters that have a high risk of family violence and those that need an urgent interim FVIO will be heard.

Will the respondent still need to attend the court-mandated counselling order program?

Yes. But sessions will not be held in-person or in groups. Call your service practitioner for information about changes to your programs.

How do I find out if my hearing is going ahead?

Contact the nearest court by phone or email.

What does it mean if a case is adjourned?

If a case is adjourned, it means it will be heard by a magistrate at a later date.

Interim family violence orders will remain in place to protect affected family members until a final order is made.

The court will contact you if your matter is adjourned.

Will I still have access to interpreter services?

Yes. The court will continue to arrange interpreters. Interpreters will be available by phone and video-conference.

For information on interpreter and other accessibility services, visit the Interpreters page.

 

 

Information for lawyers

I’m a lawyer - do I have to go to court to seek an adjournment for my client?

No, please don’t enter our buildings unless absolutely necessary.

In a wide range of matters, lawyers do not have to attend a courthouse to seek an adjournment. Please see our practice directions on our website.

Advice as to the actual rescheduled date will be provided later.

Please use EFAS or email the registry if you need to contact us. 

I’m a lawyer appearing in a civil matter – should I attend court?

No, unless directed otherwise, no practitioners or parties are to attend court.

The court will not accept complaints issued over the counter until further notice.

All parties are encouraged to resolve matters by consent. Urgent applications should be emailed to the court.

I’m a lawyer with a query about a non-urgent matter later in the year – can you help me now?

If it is not an urgent query, please ask us a bit closer to the hearing date.

Our focus now is on managing the court matters that cannot be adjourned. We are rotating our staff to reduce their in-person contact with stakeholders, so please be patient as we prioritise those urgent matters. 

 

 

Information for police

I’m a member of Victoria Police – do I have to attend to lodge a summons?

No. You must use EMD to list matters. you should not be issuing summons over the counter unless there is no other method available.

Last updated on 22 May 2020
Last updated on 22 May 2020
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