Massive turnout for Supreme Court of Victoria's Education Program

Over 1,900 students had the opportunity to meet judicial officers and witness court hearings

Massive turnout for Supreme Court of Victoria's Education Program

The Supreme Court of Victoria’s Education Program has welcomed over 1,900 students after pandemic restrictions have been lifted.

The court's team of 14 volunteers facilitated 100 sessions throughout the year, providing students with a unique opportunity to meet judicial officers, witness court hearings, and delve into the intricacies of legal processes and court history.

This year was the first that students under the Victorian Certificate of Education (VCE) program could participate in the onsite program after pandemic restrictions forced a halt in early 2020. The online program lasted almost three years and was replaced by the return to physical courtrooms.

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Despite the return to onsite sessions, the court continued to offer online sessions as part of a hybrid model to provide flexibility. Over 250 students engaged in seven virtual sessions throughout the year, including a combined Law Week Q&A.

"The feedback from teachers and students is clear – they want their day in court," education and engagement officer Christina Varcoe said. "Learning is about sparking an interest, and visiting the Court helps to bring their textbooks to life."

All sessions featured a judicial officer, with 35 judges, associate judges, and judicial registrars contributing their time to share insights into their career paths and answer students' questions directly.

Varcoe emphasised that the program is not solely about creating future lawyers but aims to foster an understanding of the legal system, which Varcoe said is a core element of society.

"Many of the judicial officers have changed careers several times and have varied life experiences which students find refreshing and inspiring as they face the pressures of finishing school," Varcoe added.

Chief Justice Anne Ferguson, who has also talked to the students in some sessions, described the program as rewarding for students and judicial officers. The students ask thoughtful and exciting questions and remind us of our younger selves when our inquisitive minds led us to the law in the first place," the chief justice said. "We're always looking for ways to better engage with the community, and we welcome all Victorians to watch hearings in person and online."

Sessions for Term 1, 2024 are already booked out. Teachers and schools seeking more information are encouraged to visit the Court Education Program page.

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