Most of the time Victorian courts are open to the public when sitting, however the Court may decide to order a closed court, or order that only certain persons be present during the whole or part of the proceedings.
Practitioners may apply (through their legal representative) for a closed court. Some examples of circumstances where this may be seen as appropriate or necessary are:
- if the physical safety of a person is likely to be endangered
- where the details of the case are particularly sensitive and the practitioner is aware that it would cause undue distress or embarrassment for the child or a witness if the court was not closed. This only applies where the proceeding relates wholly or partly to a charge for sexual offence matters.
Where an application for a closed court is being considered, the area executive director or director, child protection and the Child Protection Litigation Office (CPLO) must be consulted.
- There is no restriction on the attendance of media personnel in court unless the Court has ordered a closed court or orders only certain persons be present during the whole or part of the proceedings. An application can be led by any of the parties who believe that media interest may be detrimental to the child.
- Media personnel are bound by s. 534, CYFA, under which it is an offence, punishable by a fine or imprisonment, for a person to publish or cause to be published certain information except with the permission of the President of the Court.
If you are considering making an application for the court to be closed, you should discuss this well in advance with the area executive director or director, child protection and CPLO or your allocated legal representative. You should be well prepared and have developed a clear concise rationale for the request.