This research project examined the impact of introducing videolinks to court proceedings on the interactions between court participants and on the design of courthouses. It was found that, far from being a neutral insertion, videolinked technologies as they currently operate fundamentally change the experience of court proceedings for participants, as well as the role of the courtroom and courthouse to structure events.
The findings of the research informed the writing of best practice design and operational guidelines for improving video-mediated communications between justice participants, which have since been implemented by various court administrators in Australia and abroad. The guidelines have also influenced the design of videolink suites in contemporary courthouses, including the recent Coffs Harbour Courthouse designed by PTW Architects.
Dr Emma Rowden (UTS) was one of two Australian Postgraduate Award (Industry) candidates on the project; the research resulted in two successful doctoral theses and several academic papers. The Gateways to Justice Project: improving video-mediated communication for justice participants was a three-year Australian Research Council funded Linkage Project (2008-2011; LP0776248) led by Professor David Tait of the Justice Research Group (Western Sydney University). The project brought together a large team of researchers from seven disciplines and collaborating organisations, including the Australian Federal Police, the Department of Justice Victoria, the Department of the Attorney-General Western Australia, Director of Public Prosecutions ACT, PTW Architects, ICE Design Australia Pty Ltd, Hanson Associations, Production Audio Services Pty Ltd and Jumbo Vision International Pty Ltd.