Letter of Transmittal

5 September 2013

Attorney-General
Parliament House
Canberra ACT 2600

Dear Attorney

I am pleased to present the Annual Report on the operations of the Family Court of Australia for the financial year ending 30 June 2013.

The report is submitted in accordance with section 38S subsections (1) and (3) of the Family Law Act 1975. The Act requires the Family Court to prepare and furnish you with a report of the management of the administrative affairs of the Court during the preceding 12 months.

This report has been prepared in accordance with the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet’s Requirements for Annual Reports 2013.

This is the Family Court of Australia’s 24th Annual Report.

Yours sincerely

Diana Bryant AO
Chief Justice

Reader’s guide

The purpose of this report is to inform the Attorney-General, the Parliament, court clients and the general public about the performance of the Family Court of Australia in the 2012–13 reporting year. Prepared according to parliamentary reporting requirements, the report outlines the goals stated in the Court’s Portfolio Budget Statements and relates them to the results achieved during the year.

It provides information on the Court’s performance in relation to its stated outcome:

As Australia’s specialist superior family court, determine cases with complex law and facts, and provide national coverage as the appellate court in family law matters.

PART 1: The year in review—comprises the Chief Justice’s overview highlighting significant issues and initiatives the Court has undertaken during the reporting year.

PART 2: Overview of the Court—provides information about the Court, including its role, functions, powers, governance, organisational structure, initiatives, planning and international cooperation.

PART 3: Report on performance—reports on how the Court performed during the period against the above outcome and related program. The performance reports are based on the outcome and program framework and performance information in the 2012–13 Portfolio Budget Statements and the Portfolio Additional Estimates Statements 2012–13 for the Attorney-General’s portfolio.

PART 4: Appeals—includes information about the Appeal Division, trends in appeals and appeals to the High Court.

PART 5: Significant and noteworthy judgments—contains summaries of some of the important Full Court decisions made during 2012–13.

PART 6: Management and accountability—provides information on corporate governance, external scrutiny, human resource management, financial management, purchasing, consultants and contract management, legal services, assets management and other activities relevant to the general administration of the Court.

PART 7: Financial statements for the year ending 30 June 2013—contains the audited financial statements for 2012–13.

PART 8: Appendices—includes the resource statement, resources for outcomes, staffing profile, work health and safety, advertising and market research, ecologically sustainable development and environmental performance, grant programs, information about committees, external involvement, judicial activities, international visitors and contact details.

PART 9: Index and list of requirements.

The following should assist readers to locate information in the annual report and to understand court-specific language:

  • Acronyms, abbreviations and a glossary of court-specific terminology
  • List of requirements
  • Alphabetical index

An electronic version of this annual report is available from the Family Court of Australia’s website (www.familycourt.gov.au) at this link: http://www.familycourt.gov.au/wps/wcm/connect/FCOA/home/about/publications/annual/

Acronyms and abbreviations

AASB Australian Accounting Standards Board
ABGR Australian Building Greenhouse Rating
AGD Australian Government Attorney-General’s Department
AGIMO Australian Government Information Management Office
AM Member of the Order of Australia
ANAO Australian National Audit Office
AO Officer of the Order of Australia
APS Australian Public Service
ATSI Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander
AWA Australian Workplace Agreement
CSD Corporate Services Division
CEI Chief Executive Instruction
CEO Chief Executive Officer
CJ Chief Justice
CPSU Commonwealth and Public Sector Union
CLC Commonwealth Law Courts
CMAG Chief Executive Officer’s Management Advisory Group
CSSMG Client Services Senior Managers Group
Cth Commonwealth
DCJ Deputy Chief Justice
DVD digital video disc
ECN Environmental Champions Network
EL Executive Level of the Australian Public Service
FAIM Fellow of the Australian Institute of Management
FCC Federal Circuit Court of Australia
FLC Family Law Courts
FLIS Family Law Information Service
FMA Act Financial Management and Accountability Act 1997
FOI freedom of information
GST goods and services tax
HSMAs (Work) Health and safety management arrangements
ICT information and communications technology
IPS information publication scheme
IT information technology
IVR interactive voice recognition
J judge
MA The Supreme Court of Indonesia (Mahkamah Agung)
MOU Memorandum of Understanding
NEC National Enquiry Centre
PMDS Performance Management and Development System
PSM Public Service Medal
RFD Reserve Force Decoration
SES Senior Executive Service of the Australian Public Service
SDC Staff Development Committee
WHS work health and safety
WHSC Work Health and Safety Committee
YEAG Young Employees Advisory Group

Glossary of court-specific terms

Casetrack—Casetrack is the case management system used by the Family Court, including the Appeal Division, the Federal Circuit Court of Australia (formerly the Federal Magistrates Court) and the Federal Court of Australia.

Child dispute services—the family consultant services of the Family Law Courts. Family consultants are court experts who specialise in child and family issues after separation and divorce. They provide the courts and families with expert advice regarding children’s best interests; help parties resolve their dispute where possible; write and produce family reports; and advise the courts and families about the services provided to families and children by government, community and other agencies.

The Court—means the Family Court of Australia.

The courts—means the Family Court of Australia and the Federal Circuit Court of Australia (formerly the Federal Magistrates Court).

Family consultant—a psychologist and/or social worker who specialises in child and family issues that may occur after separation and divorce.

Family Law Courts—comprise the Family Court of Australia and the Federal Circuit Court of Australia.

Family law registry—a public area at a Family Law Court where people can obtain information about the courts and their processes and where parties file documents in relation to their case.

Interim proceedings—proceedings for orders pending a final determination of the issues in dispute.

Interlocutory proceedings—proceedings taken during the course of, and incidental to, a trial.

Magellan—cases that come to the Family Court that involve allegations of sexual abuse and/or serious physical abuse of a child go into the Court’s Magellan program.

Registrar—a court lawyer who has been delegated power to perform certain tasks; for example, grant divorces, sign consent orders and decide the next step in a case.

Registry—how the courts’ offices are known. For example, the Melbourne registry is in the Commonwealth Law Courts building on William Street.

Reserved judgments delivery time—the time between the hearing and the delivery of the judgment concerned.

Rules—a set of directions that outlines court procedures and guidelines. The rules of the Family Court are the Family Law Rules 2004 and the rules of the Federal Circuit Court of Australia are the Federal Circuit Court Rules 2001.