Zonta Club of Kyneton Inc continues a long-standing advocacy project

The Zonta Club of Kyneton Inc, District 23, began networking in 2015 with members of Court Services Victoria (CSV), the Macedon Ranges Shire Council (MRSC) and other interested groups to advocate for much-needed improvements to the historic Kyneton Magistrates’ Court.

History shows that when everyday people speak out, leaders listen, so Zonta Club of Kyneton Inc members saw a special opportunity to put advocacy for saying no to domestic violence on their agenda.

The bluestone building, dating from the 1850s, lacked safe and secure facilities for people involved in family violence cases. Visitors to the court had long complained about their vulnerability, as there were no visual barriers for consultation areas.

Club members said they have heard that victims often had to sit in the same waiting room as their perpetrators and that there were reports of women being assaulted while waiting for intervention orders or while in the parking lot of the courthouse.

Brian Stevenson, CSV Chief Operating Officer, invited Club President Sharona Smith and Area 4 Director Margaret Lynch to an informal meeting to provide information on the proposed architectural changes to the courthouse.

Club members continued to be involved with community discussion groups and CSV in the development of a design plan, which was revealed when refurbishments began in October 2017. At each stage of consultation, the club prepared articles for media release reported outcomes at the District 23 level and sent letters to inform the Attorney-General for Victoria and the Member for Macedon of the advocacy steps taken by local Zontians on behalf of women impacted by violence.

On 12 October, three members of the club attended the reopening of a significantly refurbished courthouse. The security upgrades deliver key recommendations of the Royal Commission into Family Violence while protecting the building’s heritage and providing safety for the judiciary, staff, and court users.

Photo (from left to right): Annamarie Perlesz, Cr MRSC Janet Pearce, Sharona Smith, and Margaret Dearricott