National

Thousands watched Pell hearing online

By AAP Newswire

Tens of thousands of people tuned into an online broadcast of Catholic cardinal George Pell's bid to appeal against his convictions for child sex abuse.

The Supreme Court of Victoria has revealed in its latest annual report that about 42,000 viewers tuned into a livestream of the hearing in June.

The hearing, held over two days, was overall viewed about 139,000 times, according to data captured the day after it wrapped up.

Most Australian courts do not allow cameras in to capture proceedings.

But the Victorian Court of Appeal has been piloting webcasting some appeals and live-streaming high-profile cases since June 2017, including the Pell case and Rebel Wilson's appeal over her defamation suit against Bauer Media.

Pell was jailed for six years for sexually assaulting two choirboys at Melbourne's St Patrick's Cathedral while he was Archbishop of Melbourne in 1996.

This year, Victoria's Court of Appeal upheld the five convictions in a 2-1 decision.

Pell's legal team went to the High Court which on Wednesday agreed to refer the case to the full court.

The Victorian Supreme Court also live-streamed the audio of 23 of its own hearings in 2018/19, and showed another five with video.

The court's annual report showed there was also a marked rise in the number of Victorians called for jury duty in the year.

A total of 222,982 people were randomly selected for jury service, up by 28 per cent from the year before.

There were 68 jury trials in the Supreme Court, up from 26 per cent from the year before, and 456 jury trials in the County Court, marking a one per cent decline from 2017/18.

The family division of the state's Children's Court continued to face growing for its services, with the number of child protection applications it received growing by 25 per cent over the past five years.

There were 14,879 such applications in 2014/15 and 18,722 of them in 2018/19.