Courthouse design and indigenous communities

Brisbane Court Building showing a foyer where past Justices official portraits hang.The design of courtrooms and courthouses in Australia have been based on the English architectural principles, but is this appropriate in the Australian context, paricularly for indigenous communities? The design of courthouses has favoured the grand and imposing, and to make statements of their own to all who enter. This article by  Thalia Anthony and Elizabeth Grant provides another perspective of our court buildings. They include some good case studies with photos to illustrate their points. Here is part of their conclusion:

Brisbane court room showing the glass surround for the accused dock.“This article has provided a descriptive overview of some of the emerging principles to accommodate Indigenous needs in the design of courthouses, in which Indigenous oversight of design processes is crucial. It suggests that court facilities that allow Indigenous users to engage in court processes, protect Indigenous users’ privacy and maintain sightlines with Country can help remove the alienation that Indigenous defendants, victims and families experience in mainstream courts.”

The pictures show interiors of the Brisbane Supreme Court building. Top photo shows a foyer with official portraits of past Justices in their robes. The lower picture shows the dock for the accused. This dock was intended to be wheelchair accessible but the doorway opening width is obstructed by the internal shelf. The ramp ends at the outward opening door and indicates this was an afterthought as a landing in front of the door is not possible due to the other fittings. Pictures by Jane Bringolf.