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Opening of the 2016 legal year

05 February 2016

Victoria’s legal year has officially begun with a range of events held around the State commemorating the opening of the 2016 legal year.

Justice Clyde Croft joined dignitaries to officially open Geelong’s new legal year on 18 January, with a service at St Mary’s Basilica and a ceremonial sitting at the Geelong courthouse.

“As I have said in previous years, I think it is important on occasions such as this, to emphasise the very purpose of our courts and the legal system. In so doing, reference has been made to the experiences in other jurisdictions at other times and the fundamental importance of the maintenance of the Rule of Law.

“An aspect of the Rule of Law, and a very important one, is the actual and perceived independence of the judiciary and the courts.  

“On 1 July 2014, Court Services Victoria was established as an independent statutory body providing administrative support to the courts and the tribunals of this State. This is a most important development and one which may not be fully understood or appreciated, both with respect to the nature and purposes of Court Services Victoria, and its importance in terms of the independence of the courts,” said Justice Croft in his opening address.

Justice Croft was also pleased to welcome to the Bench for the Ceremonial Sitting Uncle David Tournier, a Senior Elder of the Wathaurong people. His Honour said, “You will recall that Auntie Lyn McInnes, also a Senior Elder of the Wathaurong people, spoke at this sitting last year, of the Wathaurong people and their law and legal system that prevailed here for 40,000 years or so; hence it is very pleasing and appropriate that Uncle David is with us today representing the original inhabitants and culture of this land. I do hope that this representation becomes a tradition that is continued at these sittings.”

On Monday 1 February, a Multi-Faith Opening of the Legal Year was held at Government House. Hosted by the Honourable Linda Dessau AM, Governor of Victoria, the service was attended by Supreme Court judges, judicial officers from other jurisdictions, barristers, solicitors and interested members of the public. The ceremony was streamed live on the Government House website, and can be viewed by visiting LiveSteam (External link).

Among the many events held this week, the Victorian chapter of the International Commission of Jurists (ICJ) held the Community Opening of the Legal Year at the County Court on Monday. The Victoria Law Foundation hosted its annual Legal Laneway Breakfast on Wednesday, bringing together Victoria’s legal sector to celebrate the start of another legal year.

A Welcome to Country and smoking ceremony was held as part of the Supreme Court’s legal year opening celebrations, continuing our commitment to building connections with the Indigenous people of Victoria.

Indigenous Elder, Aunty Pat Ockwell, led the Welcome to Country while Jesse Gardiner, son of respected Indigenous Elder Aunty Marg Gardiner, performed a smoking ceremony.

This is the second Welcome to Country held at the Court, which acknowledges the Traditional Owners of the land and recognises the importance of reconciliation within the Aboriginal community.

More Supreme Court news

Photos from recent events

The Hon Justice Clyde Croft, Angus Christophersen, Luke Virgona and Martin John

Justice Croft with associates Martin John (right), Angus Christophersen (left) and barrister Luke Virgona (middle). Photo courtesy The Geelong Advertiser.

Multi-Faith Opening 2016

Multi-Faith Opening 2016.

Welcome to Country 2016

Welcome to Country and smoking ceremony, held at the Supreme Court as part of the legal year opening celebrations. 

(L to R) Jesse Gardiner, Uncle Bill Nicholson, Aunty Pat Ockwell, Aunty Alice Kolasa and Georgina Nichols.

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