AVL information

The Justice Legislation (Evidence and other Acts) Amendment Act 2016 (‘the amending Act’) will come into effect on 12 September 2016. The amending Act will change the Evidence (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 1958 (‘the Act’) in relation to appearances of an accused being held in custody.

The amendments outline the circumstances in which the accused will appear via audio visual link (AVL) or physically attend the Magistrates’ Court of Victoria (‘the Court).
Section 42JA, covers the appearance of an adult accused before the Court. The legislation introduces a presumption that an accused will appear via an AVL for all hearings with the exception of listings outlined in section 42JA(2) and (3).
The exceptions relate to the following hearings:
  • An inquiry into the accused’s fitness to plead;
  • A hearing where the accused is pleading not guilty (i.e. a contest);
  • Committal hearing;
  • First hearing of accused following arrest, when the accused is required to be brought before the Court to be dealt with according to law;
  • Where a Court has directed the physical attendance of the accused in the interests of justice.
Practice Direction 

Practice Direction 11 of 2016 will commence on 12 September 2016 and sets out the procedure for applying for a direction that an accused person in custody is to appear physically before the Court.

History of AVL and Video Conference project

This project is the installation and trial of modern internet based video conference technology and processes between Magistrates’ Courts and Corrections Victoria. The project consisted of two stages

The aim of the first stage of the project was to improve and expand the capacity to video conference matters between Courts and Corrections Victoria. The initial roll out of new video conference equipment occurred from September 2014 to March 2015 at selected court venues (18 courtrooms at 10 locations) and became operational in April 2015.

Due to the success of the initial roll out, funding has been approved for the wider expansion of the project. This will result in the installation of 151 video conference units at 37 sites across Victoria. These sites include all Melbourne metro courts, major regional and a select number of satellite regional courts. It is expected that the full roll out will be completed by mid 2017.

Stage two of the project introduced a process for legal practitioners and other agencies to securely dial into courts and prisons using a software solution to link from a range of devices such as a laptop, tablet and smart phone. Stage Two was successfully trialled during late 2015

The increased video conference facilities in prisons will provide the legal profession with greater opportunities to access their client pre and post the hearing of cases.

The video and audio data in a video conference link between a court and a prison is conducted over a managed WAN link and not over the public internet.

Area of Legislation: 

Custody Coordination Registry