Legislative Assembly for the ACT: Week 5 Hansard (25 May) . . Page.. 2255..
In addition to this there are rooms made available by agreement to visiting agencies. VOCAL is one of the agencies that rooms are made available to by agreement. The other is the Domestic Violence Crisis Service.
All the rooms in the Court allocated to external agencies are provided at the Court's discretion, and on conditions determined by the Court.
There was a room used by VOCAL and this is the room presumably referred to in the question. The original agreement was that it was for occasional use with clients on court business and was to be shared between VOCAL/the National Association for Loss and Grief (NALAG) and CARE Inc. Over time, only VOCAL came to use it. It has never been allocated for exclusive use by VOCAL There was an amicable arrangement whereby the Victims of Crime Co-Ordinator's Office (the VOCC) would also use that space for interviews. It has never been used as an office as VOCAL has an office at Narrabundah.
Early in 2002 a number of occupational health and safety issues arose at the Court building, particularly in the context of appropriate places for interviewing clients and advice was given that the arrangements then in place were unsuitable. The Registrar of the Magistrates Court, Mr Thompson, decided that the room in being used by VOCAL and the VOCC should be used primarily by the VOCC. At that time, Mr Thompson was advised that the VOCC saw, on average, 5-10 clients each week while VOCAL had used the room perhaps 2 or 3 times a month.
The Court building, as a working environment, was considered an unsuitable place for counselling.
(2) Provisions have been made to allow VOCAL to access to a room within the Court building. In June 2003 Mr Thompson wrote to the chair of VOCAL outlining the situation.
After discussion it was agreed that the VOCC would have primary responsibility for accessing the room for client interviews and that, if VOCAL wished to use it, they would contact the VOCC to make a booking. It was agreed to put a 'room in use' notice up when in use. As a result the room is currently being used as a combined interview room. I am advised that until recently this arrangement had been working well but that recently VOCAL has been accessing the room without the agreed prior notice.
However, I understand that no complaint about this arrangement has been received from VOCAL by either the VOCC or the Court Administrator, Mr Bruce Kelly.
(3) Many of the rooms at the Court are shared by a number of diverse users who generally work together to ensure that all parties are accommodated, having particular regard to security and occupational health and safety issues. The combined interview room is, always has been, and remains available for use by VOCAL subject to the agreement reached between VOCAL and the Court. The Courts Administrator has indicated that, provided prior notice is received, the Court will continue to make a room available for use by VOCAL.