04 July 2016

Modernised work place for OPP

About 80 people from across the criminal justice system gathered to celebrate the completion of a $12.9 million project to modernise the Office of Public Prosecutions work place.

To mark the occasion, the OPP officially named an upgraded and expanded conference facility the “John Harber Phillips Conference Centre” after Victoria’s first Director of Public Prosecutions.

Guests included the Attorney-General Martin Pakula, Court of Appeal President the Hon Justice Chris Maxwell, Chief Judge His Honour Peter Kidd, Chief Magistrate Peter Lauritsen and leaders from a range of organisation across the criminal justice system.

Mr Pakula told the gathering that it had become clear in 2014 that 565 Lonsdale Street could no longer support a contemporary legal practice, and there was a need for more security, better facilities for victims and witnesses, and a modern work environment for staff. 

“The government firmly supports the outstanding work of the OPP and the staff of this organisation who dedicate themselves and their time to serving and protecting the Victorian community,” Mr Pakula said.

“Access to safe, modern working facilities for staff – and for victims and witnesses – is essential for that purpose, and I hope this refurbishment goes a long way to supporting that work.”

Mr Pakula said the naming of the conference centre was a fitting tribute to John Phillips who was not only Victoria’s first DPP but also Chief Justice of Victoria in 1984, and chair of the newly-created Victorian Institute of Forensic Medicine in 1985.

DPP John Champion S.C. also paid tribute to Mr Phillips, who died in 2009, saying he was “an undisputed leader of the Victorian criminal Bar - a barrister you looked up to, and followed, watched, and learned from”.

“I admired his calmness, and his forensic skill, and always appreciated his decency, courtesy, and fairness,” Mr Champion said.

Mr Champion said the modernisation project enabled the OPP to host such a large gathering of key stakeholders, which was important and symbolic.

 “This is significant because we recognise that while as prosecutors we are independent, we don’t work in isolation,” he said. “We recognise that we have a role to play in improving the criminal justice system, and that this can only occur if all parties work together.”

Solicitor for Public Prosecutions John Cain told the gathering that the OPP would now direct its efforts to two important areas – victim and witness support, and how the criminal justice system can utilise advances in technology.

“When our lawyers work in partnership with the Witness Assistance Service team in good facilities, it enables them to deliver results that are aimed at ensuring there is no further harm caused to people as a result of the prosecution of the offences,” he said.

Mr Cain said advances in technology would substantially change the legal profession over the next five years and the OPP would work closely with all participants in the criminal justice system to successfully transition to digital procedures.

The OPP’s Accommodation Project resulted in all Melbourne staff working in the same building, bringing practical time saving benefits as well as efficiencies through shared resources. Other benefits include:

•             Improved work environment and morale

•             Greater collaboration, support and sharing of ideas

•             Improved security

•             Improved capacity to deliver training

•             More privacy and amenities for victims and witnesses

For further information contact:

Lisa Walker

03 9603 7493
0400 494 962