*****IMPORTANT ADVICE FOR ALL HONORARY JUSTICES FROM RVAHJ******
Following on from the Governments announcement of Stage 4 restrictions and RVAHJ earlier advice in regards to the ongoing health emergency the RVAHJ has updated our advice in regards to CoronaVirus for both JPs and BJs; based on our continued careful consideration and guiding principle that all Honorary Justices should minimise any and all potential risks and always consider their own wellbeing.
1. Document Witnessing & Certification – Face to Face Services
- All JPs should refrain from all signing and certification duties in Stage 4 areas
- All JPs over 70 Years of age should refrain from all signing and certification duties in Stage 3 areas
- Any JP with existing medical issues should refrain from all signing and certification duties in Stage 3 areas
- All Document Signing Stations should remain closed.
- No Witnessing & Certification Services should be conducted at a JPs home
- Urgent Witnessing & Certification Services may be considered on a “one off” basis provided all requirements and recommendations for social distancing and other precautions are in place and can be done other than from a JPs home for Stage 3 areas
- Refer all simple requests (Stat Decs & Certified Copies) to the list of Authorised Witnesses – justice.vic.gov.au/information-for-authorised-statutory-declaration-witnesses
(NOTE: There are thousands of people in Victoria authorised to witness Stat Decs and Certify True copies)
- For Stage 3 areas only: If you do decide to witness a document, always wash your hands and sanitise any items used (pens etc) immediately follow each signing event (that is, between clients if there are multiples as well as at the end of the session) and maintain the social distancing and other precautions at all times.
- RVAHJ Academy has just released a COVID-19 Stay Safe for Authorised Witnesses online course for free for all, that will take you through the best practices in staying safe while in service.
Check out this course and others by clicking here => RVAHJ Academy More Information to keep safe.
2. Document Witnessing & Certification – Remote Signing Services
- Stage 4 areas – with the introduction of the Omnibus Regulations 2020 being passed this provides the alternative to sign documents using AV facilities remotely. The HJSS has issued guidelines for all HJs accordingly.
- It is understood that not all HJs will have the facilities to provide this as an option, and for those who are able to provide the service the RVAHJ will look to providing ‘how to’ videos for each of the main authorised witnessing services over the coming weeks.
- If you are able and interested in providing your services please contact Elwood office by email (firstname.lastname@example.org) to provide your details. We are looking at the option of setting up a remote signing roster system for those in need of urgent signing of documents.
3. Bail and Interim Accommodation Order Hearings
- As you may be aware there have been 3 occasions where BJs have been exposed to positive COVID-19 offenders in the Melbourne metropolitan region; this reinforces the need for all PPE requirements and recommendations for social distancing, i.e. ensuring that there is a barrier between the BJ and the offender during hearings and other precautions are in place before conducting any hearing.
- Stage 3 area – If these are not possible then the BJ should feel free to refuse the hearing.
- Stage 4 area – As the number of infections have increased markedly, we recommend that BJs should feel free to refuse hearings. The HJSS is looking at trialing the use of AV facilities in a number of test locations as an alternative over the next few weeks; as details are known we will provide an update.
- As noted previously preference should be given to Bail Hearings for Children. That is, if a BJ wishes to reduce their service and exposure a little, but still be available for critical cases, then the critical cases should be Children.
- If any BJ chooses to stand down during the pandemic, they may do so without affecting their service commitment obligation to be reasonably active and available. If you want to do this, please adjust your roster accordingly and note the reason for the exception as “Covid-19”
All HJ’s have shown over the last five months their positive outlook, energy and drive to want to help others in the community and I wish to thank you as it has been overwhelming. Please remember that at this time more than ever you should consider you own health and the health of your families and friends first, so that you can continue to support your communities in the future.
We wish all our members the best as we all work through this difficult time together.
Paul Mracek JP FRVAHJ