Circuit courts and timing of cases

Prosecutions are generally heard in a court located in the area where the crime occurred.

Victoria’s main regional courts are situated in:

  • Bairnsdale
  • Ballarat
  • Bendigo
  • Geelong
  • Horsham
  • LaTrobe Valley (Morwell)
  • Mildura
  • Shepparton
  • Wangaratta
  • Warrnambool
  • Wodonga.

The first stage involves a committal hearing before a magistrate which will take place in the regional Magistrates’ Court.

Judges from the County and Supreme Courts hear matters in regional courts for about four weeks at a time at various times during the year. These are called court ‘sittings’. Some regional courts have more sittings than others.

Office of Public Prosecutions' (OPP) solicitors and barristers engaged by the OPP will attend the regional courts during these times.

Although your matter may be listed for hearing during a particular sitting, it may not go ahead during that time. There will be several matters listed and the judge can only hear one matter at a time. If your matter is not heard during this time it will be postponed to the next sitting date in your region.

You can contact the OPP solicitor or Witness Assistance Service (WAS) for information about when the court is hearing matters in your regional court.

Witness Assistance Service

WAS provides information and support to victims of serious crimes and their families throughout the prosecution process. This includes information about:

  • the progress of matters
  • the prosecution process
  • what to expect at court hearings and the trial.

WAS often provides this service to people in regional and country areas by telephone, but may be able to arrange for someone to attend court and provide support in person if needed.

Free support is available anywhere in Victoria

The Victims of Crime Helpline can organise a support worker to help you with:

  • your day to day needs
  • emergency home security
  • managing your personal safety
  • communicating with police and making a report
  • organising counselling, transport and medical services
  • getting ready for court
  • preparing a Victim Impact Statement
  • applying for financial assistance
  • getting information about the offender.

Call the Victims of Crime Helpline on 1800 819 817.

Court Network

Court Network is a voluntary service providing information and support to victims of crime and their family members.

Court Network volunteers work in most regional and country courts. They can provide you with support and information about going to court and can be with you while you are waiting for your matter to be heard, or when you are inside the courtroom. They can also address any concerns you have about being in court.