District Court of Western Australia - 50th Anniversary Commemorative Video Transcript

Text: The District Court acknowledges the traditional custodians of the land on which the courts operate across Western Australia and pays respect to Elders past, present and emerging.

Please be advised that this presentation may contain images, names and voices of people who have passed away.

Audio: Background music.

Title slide text: Doing Right to All - 50 years of justice at the District Court of Western Australia.

In the background external view of the District Court building.

Narrator: The District Court of Western Australia is the engine room of the State's justice system, hosting thousands of trials both big and small.

Vision: External view of District Court building.

Footage of people leaving after a trial, courtesy of Network 10.

His Honour Kevin Hammond: "It’s occupied that middle range section of the criminal world, shall we say, between the Supreme Court and the Magistrates’ Court and that has been growing like nothing else – it's where the majority of work lies."

Vision: His Honour Kevin Hammond speaking on camera.

External view of the District Court showing people going in and out of the building.

Her Honour Julie Wager: "The court now consists of 32 judges, one of whom is the President of the Children's Court and two sit as Deputy Presidents of the State Administrative Tribunal. In 2019 approximately 500 jury trials were conducted and approximately 1,800 persons were sentenced following pleas of guilty."

Vision: Inside a court room at the District Court.

Exterior view of the Children’s Court building.

Exterior view of State Administrative Tribunal building.

State Administrative Tribunal sign.

Her Honour Julie Wager speaking on camera.

Inside a court room

His Honour Kevin Sleight: "The total area serviced by the District Court is approximately 2.6 million square kilometres. The largest area served on a regular basis by any state superior court in Australia. The judges of the court are based in Perth but serve regional Western Australia by going on circuit throughout the state, from Kununurra in the far north of the State to Esperance in the far South of the State."

Vision: His Honour Kevin Sleight speaking on camera.

External views of the Kalgoorlie Courthouse, Carnarvon Courthouse, Busselton Justice Complex, Kununurra Courthouse and the Esperance Courthouse.

Audio: 1960s music.

Narrator: The 1960s saw rapid population growth in Perth and Western Australia. As the number of people settling in the State swelled, so too did the pressure on the courts. There was concern that the Supreme Court would face a growing backlog of cases. A decision was taken to establish a new superior court. What was to become WA's biggest court had humble beginnings.

Vision: Life in Australia – Perth from Screen Australia.

Her Honour Julie Wager: "The District Court commenced on the 1st of April 1970. When it was initially formed the court consisted of four judges."

Vision: Her Honour Julie Wager speaking on camera.

The West Australian newspaper - 8 April 1970 - District Court hears first criminal cases.

Narrator: In 1971 civil trials were temporarily held in the Public Trust building, while criminal trials continued to be heard in the Supreme Court. A design for a purpose-built District Court was prepared in 1975.

Vision: Archive picture: Public Trust building.

Supreme Court Building external view.

Proposed District Court Building Plans – 1975.

Central Law Courts building external view.

Narrator: The resulting building became the Central Law Courts and from April 1982 the District Court was relocated there, allowing both criminal and civil cases to be heard in the one building.

Vision: Channel 9 file footage of the front of the Central Law Courts building and the street.

His Honour Kevin Hammond: "Mr Foreman and members of the jury…"

Vision: His Honour Kevin Hammond speaking on camera.

Narrator: A 45-year-old solicitor from the bush, Kevin Hammond was considered a left-field appointment – even by himself - when he was invited to sit on the bench.

Vision: Images of a trial with His Honour Kevin Hammond presiding.

His Honour Kevin Hammond: "There was some suggestion that he's too young to be a judge, who is this bloke from the country anyhow, nobody knows anything about him. The other five were very much older than me. Very much set in their ways, being people of a different generation."

Vision: His Honour Kevin Hammond speaking on camera.

Narrator: Judge Hammond went on to become Chief Judge for nine years from 1995. His eventual successor, Antoinette Kennedy, made history when she joined the Court in 1985.

Vision: Archive pictures of His Honour Kevin Hammond and Her Honour Antoinette Kennedy.

Her Honour Antoinette Kennedy: "I was the first woman judge in Western Australia, and it was seven years before another woman was appointed, and then more women were appointed, and it simply changes the atmosphere. I'm not for one minute suggesting that women are better than men, but it provides a balance."

Vision: Her Honour Antoinette Kennedy speaking on camera.

Archive pictures of Her Honour Antoinette Kennedy in different settings.

His Honour Kevin Hammond: "It's a very gender-inclusive court, and all the much better for it.

Vision: His Honour Kevin Hammond speaking on camera.

Narrator: Following the turn of the century, planning got underway for the new District Court building. But not without a fight.

Vision: Artist impression of the District Court building extrnal view.

Artist impression of the District Court building foyer.

Her Honour Antoinette Kennedy: "The struggle to get the building, then to get it called the District Court was a substantial struggle."

Vision: Her Honour Antoinette Kennedy speaking on camera.

Narrator: Construction went ahead and the new building was opened in 2008.

Vision: Image of Stephen McDonough from ABN Ambro turning the sod with Jim McGinty and Her Honour Antoinette Kennedy.

Her Honour Julie Wager: "As a modern court the District Court uses technology extensively. We led the way in converting to a completely eCourt environment in the civil jurisdiction where all files are now electronic files. Parties to civil proceedings file electronic copies of documents via a portal."

Vision: Her Honour Julie Wager speaking on camera.

Image inside the District Court showing security scanners.

Sign saying "This Courtroom is covered by Infrared Hearing Assistance, please ask at Reception for a receiver."

Inside a courtroom showing computers and assistive technology.

His Honour Kevin Sleight: "On a regular basis, evidence is taken by video link from witnesses in remote locations, including witnesses from overseas."

Vision: His Honour Kevin Sleight speaking on camera.

Video link footage.

Narrator: By the early 2000s, Courts in WA set out to better assist Aboriginal people in the justice system with more culturally sensitive and appropriate processes. As part of this evolution, 20 District Court judges in 2019 took part in a cultural immersion experience in Broome to enhance their understanding of Aboriginal people and culture.

Vision: Broome visit footage.

Her Honour Linda Petrusa: "We have victims from Indigenous communities and a significant proportion of our work involves Indigenous men who have perpetrated crimes. So a greater understanding of where they're from, what they experience, so that the words on the pages that we read about them actually have meaning and context."

Vision: Her Honour Linda Petrusa speaking on camera.

Broome visit footage.

Narrator: And in 2020 the court created more history when David Maclean became Western Australia’s first indigenous judge.

Vision: Vision of welcome ceremony video for His Honour David Maclean.

Narrator: That year also saw all trials temporarily halted for the first time in the Court's history.

Vision: Images of inside the courtroom.

Her Honour Julie Wager: "During the COVID-19 lockdown we were forced to vacate nearly 1,500 trial days all around the State. Happily, we are back on track now and have implemented COVID-19 protocols including social distancing to keep all people who are using the Court or work in the Court as safe as possible."

Vision: Her Honour Julie Wager speaking on camera.

Footage of the COVID-19 prevention measures including screens between juror seats and hand sanitiser.

Narrator: One constant in the Court's history has been the quality of its personnel.

Vision: Archive images of His Honour Sydney Good, His Honour William Pidgeon, His Honour Desmond Heenan and His Honour Kevin Hammond.

Her Honour Kate Glancy: "The Court is a very collegiate one and I'm very fortunate that so many very wise and experienced judges have been so willing to assist and listen and share their knowledge. The inherent stresses of the role and the stress which comes from the workload is often reduced by sharing a cup of coffee, a whinge and the occasional wine."

Vision: Her Honour Kate Glancy speaking on camera.

Archive photo of previous judges.

His Honour John Staude: "Personally I get a great deal of satisfaction from the trial process, whether it is a jury trial, or a judge alone trial, criminal or civil, our procedures are designed to resolve conflicts fairly and properly."

Vision: His Honour John Staude speaking on camera.

His Honour Kevin Slight: "The duty of a judge is simply stated in the judicial oath, which is on the front of the District Court building and which I have often quoted: To do right to all manner of people, according to the law, without fear or favour, affection or ill will."

Vision: His Honour Kevin Sleight speaking on camera.

Images of the oath on the District Court building, Her Honour Antoinette Kennedy and His Honour Peter Martino.

Her Honour Antoinette Kennedy: "And I believe the judges did that and did it as efficiently as they can. It wasn't our job to be popular, it was our job to do justice according to law. And I believe the calibre of people we attracted did that.

Music out.

Vision: Images of His Honour Kevin Sleight and Her Honour Julie Wager.

Her Honour Antoinette Kennedy speaking on camera.

Video footage of previous judges.

Images of the exterior of the District Court building.

Fade to closing graphic of the Western Australian state crest.

End.