Attorney-General Robert Clark today announced an $8.4 million upgrade for the historic Bendigo court precinct.
The upgrade will provide a new courtroom and a Justice Service Centre, to be located in the former police station behind the main Law Courts building.
The funding will also cover the provision of interview rooms, full security screening and refitted prisoner holding cells in the Bull Street building.
The new court facility will relieve pressure on the historic Law Courts building that was completed in 1896 but which has been unable to meet the growing needs of the Bendigo region.
"The Coalition Government inherited a number of inadequate and poorly maintained courts across regional Victoria due to the neglect of the previous government," Mr Clark said.
"We are working to fix the problems Labor left behind in our courts wherever possible despite the current difficult economic climate."
Mr Clark said the Government's commitment to the new facility followed his meetings in March this year with lawyers, police, judges, corrections officers and court registry staff to discuss the problems faced by Bendigo court users. Mr Clark said there would be further consultations prior to upgrade plans being finalised.
The Justice Service Centre that will form part of the upgrade will operate as the Department of Justice's Regional Justice Office for Loddon Mallee.
It will consolidate several Justice services into the one location, including sheriffs, community corrections, dispute resolution services, Births Deaths and Marriages, the Regional Aboriginal Justice Advisory service, and a range of Consumer Affairs Victoria services.
"When complete the new centre will accommodate around 70 staff, 90 per cent of whom will be providing direct services to the public," Mr Clark said.
The announcement has been welcomed by Coalition Members for Northern Victoria Region Wendy Lovell, Damian Drum and Donna Petrovich as great news for the Bendigo community.