#Law & Order

The Balranald Interagency Network has received the distressing news that The Balranald Court House facility will be closing.

The New South Wales Courts and Tribunal service has advised the Balranald Shire Council the court and registry will close from January 2016.

Currently the registry, located in the Council office, is open in Balranald each Wednesday and Thursday and court sits one to two days per month. The closure of this facility will force residents, local police Federal and State Government department agencies (such as RMS, Centrelink, National Parks, Waterways, RSPCA just to name a few) and non-government agencies (Mallee Family Care, Intereach, Carers NSW, Homes out West, Vinnies) to utilise other court houses; either in Wentworth, a travel distance of 2.5hours from Balranald or Hay, some 200 kilometres away for Euston residents who are also situated in this sector.

Balranald Shire Council has launched a campaign against the decision, which has the backing of the Deniliquin Local Area Command, Balranald Police station Officers, Council, Aboriginal Legal Service and the community stating that this will be a major disadvantage, not only to Balranald but surrounding townships, the local police and other agencies who all use the facility.

On 13 October 2015, The Balranald Shire Council Mayor and General Manager met with The Hon. Leslie Williams MP – Minister for Aboriginal Affairs, Claire Coulton – Deputy Chief of Staff to the Minister, Kevin Wilde – Chief of Staff to the Attorney General and Lachlan Crombie – Policy Adviser to the Attorney General raising additional concerns:
• The travel distance to the alternative suggested local court(s)
• There is no public transport to Wentworth or Hay
• The Police, Aboriginal Legal Service and the Magistrate would prefer that the Balranald Court continued to operate
• The Police Local Area Command and the Aboriginal Legal Service raised a number of issues during the consultation process and are yet to receive a response

Council believes the concerns raised by Council, the Police and the Aboriginal Legal Service have not been sufficiently addressed, as information and figures presented to Council from the Attorney General’s department did not correspond with figures from Balranald.

Low socio-economic citizens who don’t have the ability or capacity to accommodate this change and the impacts felt with no public transport or taxi service available puts unnecessary strain on an already vulnerable person.

It will also leave Balranald and Euston Townships exposed with no Police presence for, at minimum, a full day whilst attending Court hearings.

There is nothing positive that will come out of closing the Balranald Court House, rather more issues, problems and disadvantages and we can’t stand back and let this occur.

Balranald Interagency Network has created this petition to stop the closure of the Balranald Court House and ask that you sign it in agreement.

We, the undersigned call on the NSW Attorney General to keep the Balranald Local Court open to ensure continued access to a local court service in Balranald.

The Stop the Closure of the Balranald Court House petition to NSW ATTORNEY GENERAL was written by Balranald Interagency Network and is in the category Law & Order at GoPetition.