Justice system and emergency services infrastructure helps to protect the community, hold offenders accountable, support emergency service workers, improve community resilience and respond to danger and major disasters – including bushfires, flood, heatwaves and pandemics.

Facilities supporting justice and emergency services continue to change to meet the needs of our growing population. Modern infrastructure can enable the adoption of new technologies, in turn delivering better outcomes for clients. In addition, improving the resilience of our infrastructure to future emergencies can support communities to withstand, respond to and recover from their impact.

The draft strategy includes recommendations to keep Victorians safe and ensure people are treated fairly in the justice system.

Justice services

Increasing demand is putting pressure on Victoria’s courts and justice services, which has been increased by the effects of the coronavirus pandemic. In response, courts have been using technology to keep operating wherever possible. The digitisation of services (such as online court hearings) can ease demand on courtrooms and physical facilities.

Draft strategy recommendations aim to speed up court processes, reducing stress and uncertainty for clients while helping to reduce overcrowding in prisons and remand centres. Improved systems and processes can be further supported by investment in new court facilities, to ensure they are contemporary, adaptable and multi-jurisdictional.

Investing in new technology can also support a responsive police service. Better technology can help keep police officers visible in their communities and provide them with the information and insights they need to do their jobs. Technology can allow officers to focus on policing in the community, rather than processing and receiving information in stations.

An online dispute resolution process has enabled the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal (VCAT) to hear and make judgements on disputes without meeting in person showing it is possible to digitise suitable court systems and procedures.

Emergency services

High quality and well-located infrastructure is critical to keeping communities safe and functioning in times of natural disaster and other emergencies. However, public infrastructure is often destroyed by these events, highlighting its vulnerability to damage.

Community recovery and rebuilding after natural disasters provides the opportunity to reassess the resilience of the infrastructure, including its build quality and location. Infrastructure damaged by emergencies is clearly vulnerable. Simply replacing it with the same infrastructure achieves no improvement in resilience to future events, and risks the same damage happening again.

We need to consider future resilience when rebuilding infrastructure destroyed in emergencies, and to review ways in which insurance payments can be used to fund more resilient infrastructure, and not only a 'like-for-like' rebuild.

We should also consider expanding Victoria’s legal definition of ‘critical infrastructure’ beyond the essential services of energy, water and transport. The 2019-20 summer bushfires and the coronavirus pandemic demonstrated the consequences of infrastructure failures and demand surges in sectors such as telecommunications, healthcare and food supply. These sectors are not currently included in Victoria’s legislated definition of an essential service, making them more vulnerable to disruption in times of emergency.

What are our draft recommendations?

Draft recommendation 22. Modernise courts through digitisation and contemporary shared facilities (Victoria's Draft 30-Year Infrastructure Strategy 28.9 MB, PDF)

Immediately increase court efficiency and meet demand by digitising suitable court systems and procedures. Invest in new contemporary, adaptable, multi-jurisdictional court facilities during the next 10 years.

Draft recommendation 23. Improve technology and infrastructure for a responsive police service (Victoria's Draft 30-Year Infrastructure Strategy 28.9 MB, PDF)

In the next 10 years, invest in technological capacity to better support a responsive police service, and deliver infrastructure to enable a contemporary hub-and-spoke policing model, co-located with health and human services where appropriate.

Draft recommendation 32. Produce public plans for priority infrastructure sectors (Victoria's Draft 30-Year Infrastructure Strategy 28.9 MB, PDF)

Immediately develop and publish Victoria’s integrated transport plan. Require transport and land use plans to align with each other.

Draft recommendation 56. Require accessible buildings for public services (Victoria's Draft 30-Year Infrastructure Strategy 28.9 MB, PDF)

Immediately establish an accessibility upgrade fund to contribute towards priority building upgrades to meet contemporary accessibility standards. By 2032, require all Victorian Government provided and funded services to be delivered from premises meeting contemporary accessibility standards.

Draft recommendation 59. Build back better after emergencies (Victoria's Draft 30-Year Infrastructure Strategy 28.9 MB, PDF)

In the next year, consider policy changes and funding mechanisms so high priority public infrastructure destroyed by emergencies is built to a more resilient standard or in less vulnerable locations.

Draft recommendation 60. Expand the legislated definition of critical infrastructure and improve information flows (Victoria's Draft 30-Year Infrastructure Strategy 28.9 MB, PDF)

Immediately consider expanding the Victorian legislated definition of critical infrastructure beyond energy, water and transport. Expand information sharing capabilities across and beyond critical infrastructure sectors.

Draft recommendation 61. Incorporate lessons of emergency reviews (Victoria's Draft 30-Year Infrastructure Strategy 28.9 MB, PDF)

Incorporate and act on emergency management and infrastructure resilience recommendations from current bushfire and pandemic inquiries and other reviews underway.

Draft recommendation 76. Plan and consistently deliver corrections and youth justice infrastructure while managing demand with policy settings (Victoria's Draft 30-Year Infrastructure Strategy 28.9 MB, PDF)

Plan and consistently deliver corrections and youth justice infrastructure while managing demand. By 2023, undertake long-term corrections and youth justice infrastructure planning, alongside policy measures that reduce short-term volatility and demand. In the next 15 years, consistently deliver a pipeline of corrections and youth justice infrastructure to meet long-term demand.

How can communities be involved in the recovery process?

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