Connecting and engaging with the law

Around 3000 people visited the Supreme Court of Victoria and the Melbourne Magistrates’ Court on Courts Open Day during Law Week. That’s double the number of people who took part last year. Many more also took the opportunity to take a look inside regional and metropolitan courts across Victoria, and to visit the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal (VCAT).

Police prosecutors during the mock trial at Melbourne Magistrates’ Court

Hearing what it’s like to be a judge in the grand surrounds of the Banco Court, Supreme Court of Victoria

We know from anecdotal feedback we recieved on Courts Open Day this year and in previous years how much Victorians value this opportunity to go behind the scenes of our courts and to meet and speak with judges and magistrates. One man told us that the day had “restored his faith in the legal system” and reminded him that “judges and magistrates were real people just trying to do a job”.

Chief Magistrate Ian Gray giving an insiders guide into the Magistrates’ Court

The VCAT President, Chief Judge, and CEO of the Magistrates’ Court turn snags on Courts Open Day

It was a similar story for many other Law Week events. Victorians were active participants in mock trials, debates, community forums, information and advice sessions, question and answer sessions, tours and much more. And most organisations that hosted an event in 2012 reported that attendance was up this year.

These experiences can help to shape Victorians perceptions of our legal system. They can also help give Victorians the confidence to use legal services or address a legal problem. This approach is also supported by national and international research which tells us that engagement, education and information are vital to improving legal literacy in the community.

In July, the Supreme Court of Victoria will open its doors once again as part of Melbourne’s Open House. If you missed the chance to take part in Law Week or visit the Supreme Court on Courts Open Day, this is the next best opportunity to take a sneak peak into Victoria’s highest court. Trust us, you won’t be disappointed.

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