Hearing room technology
VCAT offers a range of hearing room technology options to assist all Victorians to access fair and efficient justice.
Effective date: 14 December 2018
This information applies to proceedings in all lists.
VCAT offers a range of hearing room technology options to assist all Victorians to access fair and efficient justice. The options can include:
- assistive listening devices
- audio visual equipment
- hearing loops
- smart boards
- remote witness facilities
- telephone conference facilities
- video conference facilities.
This practice note provides information about:
- the availability of technology at VCAT hearing locations
- different types of hearing room technology
- how to apply to use technology in a hearing
- how VCAT decides if technology can be used in a hearing
- how VCAT will communicate with you about your technology request
- testing of equipment prior to a hearing
- any technical requirements and restrictions
- fees that apply to some types of technology.
PNVCAT 3 Fair Hearing Obligation and section 100(1) of the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal Act 1998 (Vic) state that VCAT 'may conduct all of part of a proceeding by means of a conference conducted using telephone, video links or any other system of telecommunication'.
In any proceeding, VCAT may change the operation of this practice note by making an order or a direction.
This practice note has been issued by the VCAT Rules Committee pursuant to section 158 of the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal Act 1998.
|Act||Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal Act 1998 (Vic)|
|Alternative dispute resolution. It includes a mediation or a compulsory conference|
|List||A Tribunal list established under the Rules through which the functions of the Tribunal for certain types of proceedings are allocated or exercised (e.g. Building and Property List, Guardianship List, Planning and Environment List)|
|Professional advocate||A person within the meaning of section 62(8) of the Act, and includes a legal practitioner (e.g. a barrister or solicitor) or a person who, in the opinion of the Tribunal, has had substantial experience as an advocate in similar Tribunal proceedings (e.g. a town planner in a planning matter or an estate agent in a residential tenancies matter)|
|Regulations||Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal (Fees) Regulations 2016 (Vic)|
|Rules||Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal Rules 2018(Vic)|
|Written communication||Communication made in writing such as a letter, email or fax transmission|
A word or term used in this practice note has the same meaning as defined in the Act or in the Interpretation of Legislation Act 1984 (Vic).
The technology available depends on where your hearing will be held.
The hearing rooms at 55 King Street, Melbourne and the William Cooper Justice Centre provide a range of technology options.
VCAT also holds hearings in many metropolitan, regional and rural locations including Magistrates’ Courts, public facilities and hospitals. VCAT’s ability to offer technology at these locations can be limited.
All applications to use technology are considered by VCAT and may require approval from a VCAT Member. There is more information about this in the Requesting technology for a hearing section.
This type of technology can help a person with hearing impairment to take part in a hearing.
VCAT devices are portable and include headphones and an FM transmitter that amplifies sound, including voices, in the hearing room.
Assistive listening devices can be used in hearing rooms at 55 King Street and the William Cooper Justice Centre.
VCAT can provide the following equipment at 55 King Street, William Cooper Justice Centre and some external locations:
- projectors (fixed and portable units)
- LCD screens
- Blu-ray players
- DVD players.
Audio visual equipment can be connected to a personal laptop, tablet or a smart phone to display evidence or information from a personal device to a screen or wall in the hearing room.
Read the Technical requirements and restrictions section for more information about connecting Apple devices to VCAT audio visual equipment.
A hearing loop is a type of sound system that can be used by people with hearing aids. The hearing loop provides a magnetic signal that can be picked up by the hearing aid when it is set on the Telecoil setting.
This technology is available in a number of hearing rooms at the William Cooper Justice Centre and some external hearing locations.
VCAT has replaced this type of technology at 55 King Street with assistive listening devices.
VCAT has remote witness facilities at 55 King Street, William Cooper Justice Centre and some external hearing locations.
VCAT’s remote witness facilities allow a person to take part in a hearing through an audio visual link from a remote witness room. These rooms are located away from the actual hearing room, to ensure that witnesses are safe and secure.
Smart boards are whiteboards that include a computer, a projector and white-boarding software.
Smart boards allow parties to display images, such as photos, maps and building plans on an interactive whiteboard with touch input.
This equipment is available in many hearings rooms at 55 King Street and is commonly used in Planning and Environment hearings.
VCAT’s telephone conference facilities allow a person or multiple parties (up to three) to take part in a hearing via a landline or mobile telephone from any location.
Many hearing rooms at 55 King Street have fixed telephone conference capabilities.
We can provide portable telephone conference equipment at 55 King Street, William Cooper Justice Centre and some external hearing locations.
VCAT can also hold hearings using a mobile or landline telephone in a hearing room or book conference calls with a third party provider at external hearing locations without conference facilities.
A VCAT member will consider whether to grant permission for you to attend a hearing by telephone. To give yourself the best chance of having your request granted, you should apply at least two days before your scheduled hearing date.
Several hearing rooms at 55 King Street and the William Cooper Justice Centre have audio visual facilities.
Video conferencing allows a party or multiple parties to participate in a hearing from metropolitan, regional, rural, interstate or international locations including public and private facilities.
VCAT can also access video conference facilities at many external hearing locations.
If you are a party or a representative in a VCAT case, you can make your request on an Application to use technology form.
You can lodge the application form with VCAT by electronic communication, post or in person at any VCAT location.
You must give all parties a copy of your application in accordance with Practice Note PNVCAT1 Common Procedures.
Contact VCAT if you would like more information or need help to make an application.
Your application will be considered by VCAT based on the fair hearing obligations taking into account:
- the type of case
- the type of hearing
- how long the hearing is expected to take
- where parties live
- hearing requirements, for example the need for an interpreter, security arrangements, access requirements
- any other matters specific or relevant to your case.
An application should be made as soon as possible as VCAT needs five business days to consider your request to make sure that technology is suitable and/or available for the hearing.
You will be contacted at the electronic address provided for the receipt of electronic communication or by phone when VCAT receives your request if there are any questions about your application.
Once a decision is made on your application, you will be contacted again at the electronic address provided for the receipt of electronic communication or phone.
If you intend to use your own technology to connect to VCAT equipment in a hearing, you can make a request to do so using the process outlined above in the Requesting technology for a hearing section.
We regularly audit and test all technology equipment.
VCAT staff coordinate technology bookings and also test equipment before a hearing starts.
If you have approval to connect your own equipment, you will be contacted to arrange a time for you to test your equipment in the room allocated for your hearing.
If you have VCAT approval to use your own Apple product including an iPhone, iPad or MacBook, then you will need to bring your own HDMI or VGA adaptor to connect to VCAT equipment.
Victorian Government restrictions do not allow the direct connection of a private USB device to VCAT hardware.
You can use your own laptop or tablet to display information from a private USB. VCAT can provide cables to connect your laptop or tablet to the hearing room equipment.
You can also connect your USB to VCAT Smart Boards to display picture files only i.e. JPG, BMP, GIF, PNG, PDF or MPEG files.
VCAT hearing locations use IP (Internet Protocol) or ISDN (Integrated Services Digital Network) systems that are different in the way they operate.
If you have booked a private video conference facility with an ISDN system, please contact VCAT to be provided with the technical specifications. VCAT can also contact the private facility to make sure both systems are compatible.
If you book a private facility you need to make sure that a Bible or Quran is available for any witnesses. Witnesses may be required to give sworn evidence at a hearing.
VCAT cannot make recommendations about the use of private video conference facilities.
Fees only apply to video conference bookings. See fees for video conference bookings.
The following fees apply and must be paid by the party who requests the video conference:
- a non–refundable booking fee
- line rental fees for a booking using an ISDN system. Line rental charges are based on whether the connecting call is made to a local, regional, interstate or international location.
Line rental fees do not apply to IP system bookings. Most VCAT hearing locations use this system. A booking fee will still apply.
Booking and line rental fees must be paid by 4pm the day before the hearing.
If you are experiencing financial hardship or you hold a Health Care Card, you may apply for all video conference fees to be waived or reduced. This is called fee relief. You must meet eligibility requirements to be granted fee relief.
If you have previously had an application for fee relief granted in your case, the fee relief decision will also apply to any video conference fees for your case. This means that you do not have to make a further request for these fees to be waived.
If you have booked a private video conference facility, you are responsible for any payments or charges for room hire or related costs. VCAT cannot waive or reduce fees charged by a private facility.