Appendix 1: Agency Resource Statement 2012–13

Table 8.1 Agency Resource Statement 2012–13

 

Actual available 
appropriation 
for 2012–13

$’000

Payments
made
2012–13

$’000

Balance 
remaining 
2012–13

$’000

Ordinary annual services1

Departmental appropriation2

112,8374

95,688

17,1495

Total

112,837

95,688

17,149

       

Administered expenses

Outcome 1

-

-

 

Total

-

-

 
 

Total ordinary annual services

112,837

95,688

17,149

       

Special accounts3

Opening balance

-

-

-

Appropriation receipts

-

-

-

Total special accounts

-

-

-

       

Total net resourcing for agency

112,837

95,688

17,149

1 Appropriation Bill (No.1) 2012–13 and Appropriation Bill (No.3) 2012–13. This also includes prior year departmental appropriation and S 31 relevant agency receipts.

2 Includes an amount of $6.487m in 2012–13 for the Departmental Capital Budget. For accounting purposes this amount has been designated as ‘contributions by owners’.

3 Does not include ‘Special Public Money’ held in accounts like Other Trust Monies Account (OTM).

4 Includes $100.522m in Appropriations (Appropriation Bill No 1 and 3), $8.124m in Appropriations from prior years, and $4.191m in s 31 Receipts per note 23 A of the Financial Statements.

5 Per Note 23 C of the Financial Statements.

Appendix 2: Expenses and resources for Outcome 1

Table 8.2 Expenses and resources for Outcome 1

Outcome 1: 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

Budget1
2012–13

$’000

(a)

Actual expenses
2012–13

$’000

(b)

Variation
2012–13

$’000

(a) – (b)

Program 1.1 Provision of a Family Court

Administered expenses

Ordinary Annual Services (Appropriation Bill No. 1 & No. 3)

0

0

0

Departmental expenses

Departmental Appropriation (Appropriation Bill No. 1 & No. 3)2

95,795

95,132

663

Expenses not requiring appropriation in the Budget year3

30,861

31,488

-627

Total expenses for Outcome 13

126,656

126,620

36

 
 

2011–12

2012–13

Average Staffing Level (number)

574

563

1 Full year budget, including any subsequent adjustment made to the 2012–13 Budget.

2 Departmental Appropriation combines ‘Ordinary annual services (Appropriation Bill No.1 and No.3) and ‘Revenue from independent sources (s31)’.

3 Includes depreciation and amortisation, liabilities assumed by related entities for the Judges Pension Scheme and resources received free of charge.

Appendix 3: Staffing profile

Staffing profile

At 30 June 2013, the Court had a total workforce of 591 employees covered by the Enterprise Agreement and AWAs (excluding judicial officers, the Chief Executive Officer and casual employees), ten less than at 30 June 2012.

Of the Court’s 591 employees:

  • 170 (28.76 per cent) were male and 421 (71.24 per cent) were female compared with 179 and 422, respectively, at 30 June 2012
  • 510 (86.29 per cent) were ongoing employees and 81 (13.71 per cent) were non-ongoing employees.

The following tables show staff statistics by location, gender, full-time and part-time status, and ongoing and non-ongoing.

Table 8.3 Staff by location

Level

ACT

CJ

NSO

NSW

NT

QLD

SA

TAS

VIC

Total

APS 1

     

1

         

1

APS 2

1

 

3

21

 

12

6

 

18

61

APS 3

3

 

4

68

4

34

13

6

32

164

APS 4

4

1

15

30

 

17

5

2

12

86

APS 5

1

1

21

17

 

9

2

3

9

63

APS 6

1

2

25

4

 

1

4

 

3

40

EL 1

4

 

36

25

 

15

6

3

17

106

EL 2

1

1

14

20

 

11

4

2

9

62

SES 1

   

2

1

 

1

   

1

5

SES 2

   

3

           

3

Total

15

5

123

187

4

100

40

16

101

591

Note: Actual occupancy at 30 June 2013 includes full and part-time staff* with the exception of judicial officers and casual employees.

All figures in the above table are based on actual headcount.

Table 8.4 Staff by gender

Level

Gender

ACT

CJ

NSO

NSW

NT

QLD

SA

TAS

VIC

Total

APS 1

Male

     

1

         

1

APS 2

Female

1

 

3

17

 

8

5

 

13

47

Male

     

4

 

4

1

 

5

14

APS 3

Female

3

 

4

48

3

25

7

5

22

117

Male

     

20

1

9

6

1

10

47

APS 4

Female

3

1

10

25

 

14

3

2

10

68

Male

1

 

5

5

 

3

2

 

2

18

APS 5

Female

1

1

13

15

 

8

2

2

7

49

Male

   

8

2

 

1

 

1

2

14

APS 6

Female

1

2

14

4

 

1

3

 

3

28

Male

   

11

     

1

   

12

EL 1

Female

3

 

11

23

 

14

5

3

10

69

Male

1

 

25

2

 

1

1

 

7

37

EL 2

Female

1

1

5

14

 

6

3

1

8

39

Male

   

9

6

 

5

1

1

1

23

SES 1

Female

   

1

1

       

1

3

Male

   

1

   

1

     

2

SES 2

Female

   

1

           

1

Male

   

2

           

2

Total

 

15

5

123

187

4

100

40

16

101

591

Table 8.5 Staff by attendance status

Level

Attendance

ACT

CJ

NSO

NSW

NT

QLD

SA

TAS

VIC

Total

APS 1

Part-time

     

1

         

1

APS 2

Full-time

1

 

3

11

 

9

3

 

14

41

Part-time

     

10

 

3

3

 

4

20

APS 3

Full-time

3

 

4

45

4

28

11

6

23

124

Part-time

     

23

 

6

2

 

9

40

APS 4

Full-time

4

1

12

25

 

14

5

1

9

71

Part-time

   

3

5

 

3

 

1

3

15

APS 5

Full-time

1

1

16

16

 

9

2

3

9

57

Part-time

   

5

1

         

6

APS 6

Full-time

1

2

22

3

 

1

4

 

2

35

Part-time

   

3

1

       

1

5

EL 1

Full-time

3

 

30

19

 

11

3

1

16

83

Part-time

1

 

6

6

 

4

3

2

1

23

EL 2

Full-time

1

1

14

14

 

10

3

1

7

51

Part-time

     

6

 

1

1

1

2

11

SES 1

Full-time

   

2

1

 

1

   

1

5

SES 2

Full-time

   

3

           

3

Total

 

15

5

123

187

4

100

40

16

101

591

Note: Judicial officers and the Chief Executive Officer, who are holders of public office, and casual employees are not included in the above tables.

Table 8.6 Ongoing staff by location and classification

Level

ACT

CJ

NSO

NSW

NT

QLD

SA

TAS

VIC

Total

APS 1

     

1

         

1

APS 2

   

2

13

 

8

4

 

15

42

APS 3

2

 

2

59

2

31

12

6

30

144

APS 4

2

1

13

23

 

11

3

1

10

64

APS 5

1

 

20

16

 

9

2

3

8

59

APS 6

1

1

25

4

 

1

4

 

3

39

EL 1

4

 

32

23

 

12

4

3

15

93

EL 2

1

1

14

19

 

11

3

2

9

60

SES 1

   

2

1

 

1

   

1

5

SES 2

   

3

           

3

Total

11

3

113

159

2

84

32

15

91

510

Table 8.7 Non-ongoing staff by location and classification

Level

ACT

CJ

NSO

NSW

NT

QLD

SA

TAS

VIC

Total

APS 1

                   

APS 2

1

 

1

8

 

4

2

 

3

19

APS 3

1

 

2

9

2

3

1

 

2

20

APS 4

2

 

2

7

 

6

2

1

2

22

APS 5

 

1

1

1

       

1

4

APS 6

 

1

             

1

EL 1

   

4

2

 

3

2

 

2

13

EL 2

     

1

   

1

   

2

SES 1

                   

SES 2

                   

Total

4

2

10

28

2

16

8

1

10

81

Legend

SES – Senior Executive Officer
CJ – Office of Chief Justice, Melbourne
NSO – National Support Office

Judicial officers

At 30 June 2013, there were 31 judges, including the Chief Justice; 14 female and 17 male.

Table 8.8 Total number of judges, 30 June 2013

Location

Judges

New South Wales

13

Victoria

1 Chief Justice

5

Queensland

7

South Australia

2

Tasmania

1

Australian Capital Territory

1 Deputy Chief Justice

1

Total

31

Workforce turnover

During 2012–13, 63 employees and judicial officers left the Court (19 were non-ongoing, 40 were ongoing employees and four were holders of Public Office), being an annual turnover rate of 10.1 per cent against total staff numbers at 30 June 2013*.

Table 8.9 Workforce turnover

Employment type

Reason

Total

Non-ongoing employees—3.05%

Resignation

18

Unspecified

1

Total non-ongoing employees

 

19

Ongoing employees—6.42%

Inter department transfer

12

Redundancy

6

Resigned

11

Retirement age under 60

4

Retirement age 60–65

6

Retirement age over 65

1

Total ongoing employees

 

40

Public office holders—0.64%

Retirement age 60–65

4

Total public office holders

 

4

Total

 

63

Note: The above figures do not include non-ongoing employees whose actual period of engagement reached their non-ongoing contract date of expiry.

* Total staff numbers for the above table include all employees and public office holders (judicial officers and the Chief Executive Officer) as at 30 June 2013 (total headcount of 623).

Agreement making

Enterprise Agreement

The Federal Circuit Court of Australia and Family Court of Australia 2011–2014 Enterprise Agreement continued to operate during 2012–13. The Agreement has a nominal expiry date of 30 June 2014, however, under present arrangements it will continue to operate after that date until replaced or formally terminated.

At 30 June 2013, 559* Family Court employees were covered by the Enterprise Agreement.

Table 8.10 Family Court employees covered by the Federal Circuit Court of Australia and Family Court of Australia Enterprise Agreement

Level

Female

Male

Total

APS 1

 

1

1

APS 2

46

14

60

APS 3

117

47

164

APS 4

68

18

86

APS 5

48

14

62

APS 6

27

12

39

EL 1

66

31

97

EL 2

36

14

50

Total

408

151

559

* Excludes casual employees.

Other agreements

Offers of Australian Workplace Agreements (AWA) to court employees ceased from 13 February 2008, in accordance with government policy; however, at 30 June 2013, 28 employees had enforceable AWAs in place.

In some limited cases, the Family Court has used common law contracts and determination 24 instruments pursuant to the Australian Public Service Act 1999 to build upon existing AWA arrangements. At 30 June 2013:

  • 18 employees had employment arrangements governed by enforceable common law contracts
  • 46 employees had employment arrangements governed by determination 24 instruments.

Table 8.11 Employees covered by other agreements

 

Australian Workplace
Agreements

Common law contracts

Determination 24 arrangements

Level

Female

Male

Total

Female

Male

Total

Female

Male

Total

APS 1

                 

APS 2

1

 

1

     

1

 

1

APS 3

                 

APS 4

                 

APS 5

1

 

1

     

2

 

2

APS 6

           

1

1

2

EL 1

3

6

9

1

3

4

7

9

16

EL 2

3

8

11

2

8

10

5

12

17

SES 1

1

2

3

2

2

4

3

2

5

SES 2

1

2

3

     

1

2

3

Total

10

18

28

5

13

18

20

26

46

Non-salary benefits

Non-salary benefits provided by the Court to employees include motor vehicles, car parking, superannuation, access to salary sacrificing arrangements, computers including home-based computer access, membership of professional associations, mobile phones, studies assistance, leave flexibilities, workplace responsibility allowances (for example, first aid, fire warden, community language) and airline club memberships.

Performance pay arrangements

The Court’s industrial instruments do not include provision for performance based pay to employees. No employees received performance pay during 2012–13.

Table 8.12 AWA minimum and maximum salary ranges by classification

Classification

Salary Range ($)

APS 2

57,583 – 57,583

APS 3

N/A

APS 4

N/A

APS 5

82,285 – 82,285

APS 6

72,113 – 86,618

EL 1

99,161 – 121,323

EL 2

126,298 – 159,066

SES 1

170,324 – 190,550

SES 2

195,971 – 208,967

Table 8.13 Classification structure and pay rates in accordance with the Federal Circuit Court of Australia and Family Court of Australia Enterprise Agreement 2011–2014*

APS classification and no. of staff

Salary rates on
1 July 2012

Salary rates on
1 July 2013

APS 1

$42,779

$44,063

$43,937

$45,256

$45,745

$47,118

APS 2

$46,841

$48,247

$49,395

$50,877

$51,945

$53,504

APS 3

$54,740

$56,383

$56,129

$57,813

$57,583

$59,310

APS 4

$61,356

$63,197

$62,950

$64,839

$64,562

$66,499

APS 5

$66,325

$68,315

$68,404

$70,457

$70,330

$72,440

APS 6

$72,036

$74,198

$75,867

$78,144

$82,285

$84,754

EL 1

$91,831

$94,586

$95,497

$98,362

$99,161

$102,136

EL 2

$108,424

$111,677

$111,736

$115,089

$120,081

$123,684

$121,079

$125,639

$124,095

$127,818

$127,264

$131,082

* Excludes casual employees.

Appendix 4: Work health and safety

Maintaining the health and safety of staff and all those who must use the Court’s premises is integral to the values and business of the Court. The Court is committed to:

  • implementation and compliance of the new Work Health and Safety Act 2011 (WHS Act 2011)
  • compliance by itself and its personnel with all applicable statutory and other health and safety obligations, including the Act
  • maintaining a healthy and safe workplace
  • preventing injuries by managing risk, including identifying and mitigating workplace hazards to health and safety, and
  • making good work health and safety practice part of business as usual for all managers and staff.

During 2012–13 the Court continued to work to achieve this through:

  • actively preventing work-related injury and illness via regular workplace checks and inspections
  • providing access to information, training, professional support and advice on workplace health and safety (WHS) issues, via the Court’s intranet, training programs, eLearning and induction
  • consulting with staff and their representatives on the development and variation of health and safety management arrangements
  • advising managers and staff of their WHS responsibilities
  • ensuring health and safety representatives have the time and resources to reasonably perform their roles, and
  • implementation of new fatigue management guidelines.

The Court recognises that effective health and safety management reduces the social and financial costs of occupational injury and illness.

Specific initiatives taken by the Court during 2012–13 to ensure the health, safety and welfare of staff included:

  • advising all management and staff of their legislated obligations, accountability, consultative requirements, communication and leadership responsibilities in relation to health and safety
  • providing all registry and business unit managers with resources for early intervention including roles and responsibilities
  • national recording and systems management of WHS throughout the courts, managed through the National Workplace Health and Safety Committee, and
  • the Rehabilitation Management System, which was being developed for implementation on 1 July 2013.

Ergonomic assessments of workstations, provision of ergonomic furniture, access to a free employee assistance program, annual influenza vaccinations, access to peer support officers, first aid officers and harassment contact officers were all provided for the Court’s employees on an ongoing basis.

Whilst the Court’s local work health and safety committees continued to meet throughout 2012–13, none of the Court’s locations reported work health and safety audits requiring serious investigations during the year.

In 2012–13, there was one notifiable incident in Dandenong. It was not a result of court practices as it was a building fault and was referred to the building manager.

National Work Health and Safety Committee (WHSC)

In May 2013, at the National Consultative Committee meeting, it was confirmed that a new National Work Health and Safety Committee (WHSC) will be formed in accordance with the Work Health and Safety Management Arrangements (HSMAs).

The WHSC will meet at least twice a year to discuss and resolve national work health safety issues in addition to:

  • developing and reviewing health and safety management arrangements, policies and practices
  • consulting with staff on health and safety issues
  • developing and refining processes to regularly audit health and safety in the courts’ registries including eliminating identifiable hazards and mitigating known risks
  • reviewing any workplace incidents or accidents to develop prevention strategies
  • making recommendations on the WHS impact of changes in the workplace, and
  • attending committee meetings to discuss and resolve WHS issues in the courts.

The WHSC will comprise:

  • Human Resources Manager (Chair)
  • Executive Director Corporate Services
  • health and safety representative
  • first aid officer
  • Workplace Health Management Consultant
  • Workforce and Policy Manager
  • registry manager
  • National Property Manager.

The term of office for elected committee members will be two years and they may, if re-elected, serve for an additional two years.

Workers’ compensation and early intervention management

Continuing education, early intervention and strong recording mechanisms ensured claims were kept to a minimum. As well, the Court continued to proactively manage its workers compensation cases, which has contributed to reducing the total future costs of all such claims.

However, the costs of claims increased in 2012–13 for three main reasons:

  • an increase since last year in estimated costs relating to claims for injuries suffered in 2010. The high cost claims from 2010 are for psychological injuries, with one resulting in full incapacity
  • claims in this financial year have required greater total costs and time off work than in the previous year, and
  • a penalty linked to a contribution to the margin to restore the Comcare scheme funding.

Proactive management has continued to be reflected in the premium rates.

Table 8.14 Comcare premium rates, 2009–10 to 2012–13

 

2009–10

2010–11

2011–12

2012–13

2013–14

Family Court of Australia latest premium rates

1.67%

1.25%

1.22%

1.29%

Merged courts

administration 1.04%

All agencies combined premium rates

1.25%

1.20%

1.41%

1.77%

1.81%

Variance

0.42

0.05

-0.19

-0.48

-0.77

Note: The premium for 2013–14 reflects a merged premium for both the Family Court and the Federal Circuit Court, therefore, a direct comparison can not be made between it and earlier years.

Appendix 5: Advertising and market research

Under sections 311A and 321A of the Commonwealth Electoral Act 1918, the Court is required to disclose particulars of payments of $12,100 or more (inclusive of GST) for advertising, market research, polling organisations, direct mail and media advertising.

The Court spent a total of $20,483 during the 2012–13 financial year in advertising and market research, comprising mainly payments to media advertising organisations for recruitment notices.

During 2012–13, the Family Court of Australia did not conduct any advertising campaigns.

Appendix 6: Ecologically sustainable development and environmental performance

Key Achievements

  • Estimated savings of $145,000 were made in 2012–13 under energy supply contracts negotiated in recent years.
  • Travel reduced by 351,000 km in 2012–13, with a reduction of 115 tonnes of CO2 emissions.
  • Proactive energy management reduced by 773.055 kWhrs over three years.

The following information is provided in accordance with Section 516A of the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation (EPBC) Act 1999.

Court activities and ecologically sustainable development

As noted in its Environmental Policy, the Court:

“…recognises the importance of implementing sound environmental practices in all court functions…”

This overarching commitment to ecologically sustainable development (ESD) was implemented in a number of ways by the Family Court during 2012–13.

Impacts on the environment

The Court impacts on the environment in a number of areas, primarily in the consumption of resources.

Table 8.15 lists environmental impact/usage data where available. Data for the Family Court and Federal Circuit Court cannot be accurately separated; therefore the data provided in Table 8.15 is total combined data for both courts unless specified. Any data relating to Commonwealth Law Courts (CLCs) has been calculated using the occupation apportionment percentage allocated to the courts, as the CLCs are shared by multiple jurisdictions.

Table 8.15 Family Court of Australia and Federal Circuit Court of Australia environmental impact/usage data, 2010–11 to 2012–13

 

2010–11

2011–12

2012–13

Energy usage (stationary)

48,538 GJ (Gigajoules)

47,408 GJ

Data not available until October 2013

10,758 tonnes CO2-e

10,153 tonnes CO2-e

 

Paper usage

22,510 reams office paper

24,165 reams office paper

27,181 reams of paper

Water usage (Commonwealth Law Courts only)

24,519 kL (kilolitres)

21,943kL

Not available at time of publication due to a change in building management providers

Transport
Vehicles—energy usage

5,646 GJ (Gigajoules)

5,839 GJ

Data not available until October 2013

374 tonnes CO2-e scope 1

389 tonnes CO2-e scope 1

 

Transport
Flights 
(estimated)

Data not available

3,452,811 kms (kilometres)

3,101,516 kms

 

975 tonnes CO2

860 tonnes CO2

Measures to minimise the Court’s environmental impact

Environmental Management System (EMS)

The Court’s Environmental Management System (EMS) has many of the key elements now in place, thus in 2012–13 work on it slowed. Elements in place include:

  • an environmental policy outlining the Court’s broad commitment to environmental management
  • an environmental risk register identifying significant environmental aspects and impacts for the Court and treatment strategies to mitigate them
  • an environmental legal register to identify any relevant environmental legal requirements for the Court (this register also includes other requirements such as applicable Australian Government policy requirements)
  • an EMS manual outlining procedures for each element of the EMS, as well as summary information on each element, and
  • a range of forms to accompany the EMS elements as required.

Other measures

During 2012–13, the Court worked within its EMS to minimise its environmental impact through a number of specific measures, either new or continuing.

Energy

  • Annual stationary energy use has continued to reduce in the last few years. Between 2009–10 and 2011–12, energy use reduced from 50,191 Gigajoules (GJ) to 47,408 GJ, a reduction of 2783 GJ or 773,055 kWhr (the figures for 2012–13 are not available until October but further decline is expected because of proactive management). Note that the figures used for the CLC data are calculated according to occupation apportionments
  • electricity contracts continued to be reviewed to ensure value for money. Energy supply contracts negotiated in recent years resulted in estimated savings of $145,000 during 2012–13
  • upgrades to more efficient lighting and/or delamping occurred at several sites
  • there was ongoing staff education to reduce energy use where possible, such as shutting down desktops and switching off lights and other electrical equipment when not in use, and
  • adjustments were made to the building management systems at the Adelaide registry. This included adjusting the air conditioning system to increase the use of economy cycles and improving the efficiency of the heating cycles. Automated lighting operating hours have also been reduced, resulting in energy and emission reductions.

Information technology

  • A program to shutdown desktops automatically after hours was implemented. In addition, staff members are still encouraged to shut down their desktops at the end of the day to maximise energy savings
  • e-waste is recycled or reused where possible, including auctioning redundant but still operational equipment
  • ensuring ICT Sustainability Plan 2010–15 equipment standards are met when procuring new equipment, and
  • ensuring fully recyclable packaging where possible.

Paper

  • A working group was set up in 2012 to investigate the impact of eFiling, including the impact on paper usage. Over many sites the following were in place or being implemented by 30 June 2013:
    • faxes converted straight to email to reduce printing
    • affidavits of 100 pages or more no longer printed
    • one sided paper reused for notepaper
    • records stored electronically where possible, and
    • clients encouraged to use the online ‘portal’ system and staff encouraged to send emails rather than letters where possible.
  • secure paper (confidential etc.) continued to be shredded and recycled for all court locations
  • non-secure paper recycling was available at 15 sites, and
  • most printers were set to default double sided printing and monochrome.

Waste/cleaning

  • The number of sites with waste recycling (commingled recycling) for plastics, metal, cardboard etc. increased by one to a total of six
  • printer toner cartridges were recycled at the majority of sites
  • recycling facilities for staff personal mobiles were permanently available at 11 sites, with all sites involved in a ‘mobile muster’ as part of National Recycling Week in November 2012
  • electronic media (CDs, work mobiles etc.) continued to be securely shredded and components recycled where possible
  • as noted previously, all sites recycled secure paper waste, and non-secure paper waste was recycled at 15 sites, and
  • light globes were recycled for all sites.

Corporate culture/communication

  • The courts’ Environmental Champions Network (ECN) continued to offer the opportunity for staff to provide their input to environmental matters for the courts. The volunteer membership has increased from five members in 2010 to 20 members representing 13 sites nationally in 2012–13. Projects to date have included:
    • Earth Hour
    • National Recycling Week
    • mobile recycling campaign as part of National Recycling Week
    • Christmas electronic equipment shutdown drive
    • Tasmanian registry based Environmental Challenge
    • ECN internal online national ‘community’ for interactive communication between members, and
    • promotion of Ride to Work day
  • an environmental management intranet page provided information on environmental issues for the courts
  • regular articles about the courts’ environmental status are included in the internal e-newsletter the Courts Exchange
  • a courts–specific ‘envirosmart’ logo was used as branding when promoting environmental initiatives, and
  • the courts continued to be represented as members on the (federal) Government Agency Environmental Network (GAEN); an interagency network facilitating the sharing of best practice environmental information. Its membership included approximately 30 agencies. In 2012–13 the Court’s Environmental Manager chaired one of the GAEN subgroups (the Environmental Management System subgroup).

Property

Fitouts and refurbishments continued to be conducted in an environmentally responsible manner including by:

  • recycling demolished materials where possible
  • maximising reuse of existing furniture and fittings
  • engaging consultants with experience in sustainable development where possible
  • maximising use of environmentally friendly products such as recycled content in furniture and fittings, low VOC (volatile organic compounds) paint and adhesives, and energy efficient appliances, lighting and air conditioning, and
  • installing water efficient appliances.

Travel

Whilst some travel is unavoidable due to the nature of the Court, staff are encouraged to consider alternatives if possible, including using improved videoconferencing facilities. As can be seen from Table 8.16 a reduction of approximately 351,000 kms and 115 tonnes CO2 was made in flights in 2012–13 compared to 2011–12.

Review and improvement strategies

As is noted in its Environmental Policy under the Environmental Management System (EMS), the Court is committed to ‘continual improvement in environmental performance’.

Reviews are periodically conducted of environmental impacts and improvement strategies via a number of means. In 2012–13 the Court:

  • reviewed its environmental risk register (significant environmental aspects and impacts)
  • collected and reported relevant energy use and emission data under the Energy Efficiency in Government Operations (EEGO) Policy (2011–12 data; 2012–13 data will be reported in October 2013)
  • collected and reported relevant waste data under the Australian Packaging Covenant, and
  • continued, via a working group, to monitor and manage the impacts of the new eFiling system, including the impact on paper usage by the courts.

Additional ESD implications

In 2012–13, the Court did not administer any legislation with ecologically sustainable development (ESD) implications nor did it have outcomes specified in an Appropriations Act with ESD implications.

Appendix 7: Grant programs

The Family Court made no grant payments during 2012–13.

Appendix 8: Committees

Table 8.16 Judicial committees, 30 June 2013

Title

Chair

Members

Terms of reference

Chief Justice’s Policy Advisory

Chief Justice Bryant

  • DCJ Faulks
  • Justice Finn
  • Justice Strickland
  • Justice Watts
  • Justice Ryan
  • Justice Kent
  • CEO (Richard Foster)
  • Principal Registrar (Angela Filippello)
  • Principal Child Dispute Services (Pam Hemphill)

To support the Chief Justice in the administration of the Court and provide her with advice on strategy and policy

Access to Justice

(comprising the Cultural Diversity, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander and Self-represented Litigants Committees)

Chief Justice Bryant

  • Cultural diversity portfolio: Justice Cleary; Executive Advisor, Leisha Lister
  • ATSI portfolio: Justice Benjamin; Justice Watts; 
    Executive Advisor, Leisha Lister
  • Self-represented litigant portfolio: Justice Forrest

To oversee the Court’s cultural diversity plan and provide advice to the Chief Justice and CEO on cultural diversity issues, special needs of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and self-represented litigants

Benchbook

(joint committee)

Justice Ainslie-Wallace

  • Justice Fowler
  • Justice Loughnan
  • Hon Richard Chisholm (consultant)
  • Nominated legal associate
  • Family Law Information Service representative
  • IT representative

To review and update the electronic benchbook which contains commentary on a range of legal topics and principles encountered in the day to day work of the judiciary and registrars and provides a comprehensive list of orders

Family Violence

(joint committee)

Justice Ryan

  • Justice Collier
  • Justice Stevenson
  • Judge Brown
  • Judge Hughes
  • Judge Altobelli
  • Principal Registrar (Angela Filippello)
  • Family consultant (Diane Lojszczyk)
  • Senior Legal Research Advisor (Kristen Murray)

To complete the implementation of the courts’ Family Violence Strategy and provide advice to the Chief Justice, Chief Judge and CEO on family violence issues

Information Technology Judicial Reference Group

(joint committee)

 
  • Justice Cronin
  • Judge Jarrett
  • Judge Riethmuller
  • John FitzGibbon (Senior Registrar)
  • Executive Director Client Services (Stephen Andrew)
  • Chief Information Officer (Phil Hocking)

To provide advice on the strategic direction of all information technology within the courts

Judicial Development

(joint committee)

Justice Benjamin

  • Justice Ainslie-Wallace
  • Justice Collier
  • Justice Ryan
  • Justice Murphy
  • Justice Fowler
  • Justice Austin
  • Justice Dessau (consultant)

To develop, implement and oversight judicial education in the courts

Judicial Remuneration

Chief Justice Bryant

  • DCJ Faulks
  • Justice May
  • Justice Austin
  • Justice Johnston
  • Justice Kent

To prepare submissions to annual and other reviews by the Remuneration Tribunal

Law Reform

Justice Strickland

  • Chief Justice Bryant
  • DCJ Faulks
  • Justice Finn
  • Justice Watts
  • Justice Kent
  • Principal Registrar (Angela Filippello)

To consider and comment upon proposed legislation and law reform proposals

Library

(proposed joint committee)

Justice Finn

  • Nominated judges
  • Manager Family Law Information Service
 

Magellan

Justice Austin

  • Principal Registrar (Angela Filippello)
  • Executive Advisor (Leisha Lister)
  • Magellan judges

To exchange information about support for Magellan, report to the Chief Justice on its operation, liaise with child welfare and police departments on the evaluation of Magellan and ensure that cases involving allegations of child sexual or serious physical abuse are dealt with as effectively and efficiently as possible

Property Management

(joint committee)

Justice Dawe

  • Judge Donald
  • CEO (Richard Foster)
  • Executive Director Corporate (Grahame Harriott)
  • Registry manager representative
  • National Manager Contracts and Property (Akasha Atkinson)

To plan and assess the current and future needs of the courts in relation to property services including contracting, refurbishment and construction activity

Research and Ethics

(joint committee)

Justice Stevenson

  • Nominated judges
  • The Hon Susan Morgan (consultant)
  • Principal Child Dispute Services (Pam Hemphill)
  • Manager Statistical Services Unit (Dennis Beissner)

To consider, monitor and overview all research and evaluation proposals (whether internal or external) for approval and disseminate research papers/results as necessary

Rules

Justice Ryan

  • Justice Strickland
  • Justice Murphy
  • Justice Loughnan
  • Magistrate Moroni
  • John FitzGibbon (Senior Registrar)
  • Julie Kearney (Registrar)
  • Family Court Counsel (Neil Wareham)

To consider all necessary or proposed rule changes. Section 123 of the Family Law Act 1975 provides that a majority of judges may make rules of court in relation to practices and procedures to be followed in the Court

Senior management committees

Table 8.17 Senior management governance committees, 30 June 2013

Title

Chair

Members

Terms of reference

Chief Executive Officer’s Management Advisory Group

CEO Family Court and acting CEO Federal Circuit Court (Richard Foster)

  • Acting Deputy CEO, Federal Circuit Court (Steve Agnew)
  • Executive Director,
    Corporate
    (Grahame Harriott)
  • Principal Registrar, Family Court of Australia (Angela Filippello)
  • Principal Registrar, Federal Circuit Court of Australia (Adele Byrne)
  • Principal Child Dispute Services (Pam Hemphill)
  • Executive Director, Client Services (Stephen Andrew)
  • Regional Registry Managers (Marianne Christmann, James Cotta, Jane Reynolds and Greg Thomas)
  • Chief Information Officer (Phil Hocking)
  • Executive Advisor, Family Court and Federal Circuit Court (Leisha Lister)
  • Manager, Chief Judge’s Chambers (Stewart Fenwick)
  • Director, Client Services (Simon Kelso)

To provide operational and policy advice to the CEO regarding key areas that are likely to be affected by the integration of the administrations of the Family Court and the Federal Circuit Court

Audit and Risk

Chris Doogan AM (external member)

  • Executive Director Corporate (Grahame Harriott)
  • Registry manager representatives (Greg Thomas, Adelaide; Marianne Christmann, Sydney)
  • ANAO representative and the Family Court’s internal auditors (RSM Bird Cameron) also attend meetings as observers
  • RSM Bird Cameron provide secretariat services

Monitor and where necessary recommend improvements to:

  • risk management identification and amelioration
  • internal control processes (including fraud control)
  • the financial reporting process
  • the functioning of the internal audit unit
  • the external audit process
  • processes for monitoring compliance with legislation, regulations and government policy, and
  • maintain an effective working relationship with the ANAO

National Consultative

CEO’s representative

(Claire Golding, Manager Human Resources)

Members are selected by vote and represent:

  • National Support Office (Annie Fenn, HR consultant, NSO)
  • Associates, Family Court and Federal Circuit Court (Megan Cunnane, Cairns)
  • Registrars (Debra Parker, Canberra)
  • Client services: large registry (Chris Cole, Adelaide), and small registry (Ebony Fenner, NEC)
  • Family consultants (Louise Salmon, Sydney)
  • A representative from the Community and Public Sector Union is also invited to attend

Consultative forum for staff about issues with a national perspective, such as industrial democracy, security, the strategic objectives of the courts, equal employment opportunities, new technology, accommodation and amenities, and personnel and staffing policies and practices

Delegates present staff views on issues that affect the management and future direction of the courts and provide feedback and briefings to the workplace nationally

Staff Development

Manager Human Resources, Claire Golding

  • Registry manager representative (Brenda Field, Dandenong)
  • Child Dispute Services (Stacey McGuinness, FCC Sydney)
  • Registrars (Debra Parker, Canberra)
  • Client services (Rupal Patel, NEC)
  • Information Technology and Communications Services (Sona Muradyan, Sydney)
  • Registry services, Team Leaders (Julie Greig, Adelaide)
  • HR representative, Workforce and Policy Manager (Jane Morgan, NSO)

To identify and/or develop national training and development initiatives, policies and programs

Appendix 9: External involvement

The Family Court has a number of strategies for strengthening its partnerships with clients and other stakeholders within the family law system, such as legal practitioners, non-government organisations and government agencies and departments.

External stakeholders at the strategic level influence, either directly or indirectly, the direction of the family law system within Australia. They include:

  • the Attorney-General’s Department
  • other government departments and agencies
  • child welfare authorities
  • the Department of Human Services
  • legal services commissions and community legal centres
  • law societies and the Law Council of Australia
  • community-based and non-government organisations
  • the Australian Federal Police.

Relationships with these groups are managed either by the Chief Justice, the Deputy Chief Justice, other judges on behalf of the Chief Justice, the Chief Executive Officer and/or other senior executives.

There are a number of established channels through which external stakeholders may inform the Court and affect its processes and client service delivery, including the following.

Family Law Council

The Family Law Council, established by the Attorney-General under section 115 of the Family Law Act 1975, confers with the Court in the course of its consideration of particular aspects of family law. The Court has judges appointed to the council and senior executives as observers at its meetings.

Australian Institute of Family Studies

The Australian Institute of Family Studies was established under section 114B of the Family Law Act and is a forum for exchange of information and research.

Family Law section of the Law Council of Australia

The Chief Justice and the Deputy Chief Justice meet quarterly with the Family Law Section of the Law Council of Australia. There are regular liaison meetings between the state law societies and bar associations and each of the Court’s registries.

Family Law Forum

The Chief Justice chairs the national Family Law Forum, which consists of representatives from the Family Court, Federal Circuit Court, the Family Law Council, the Family Law Section of the Law Council of Australia, National Legal Aid, the Attorney-General’s Department, the Department of Families, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs, the Child Support Program, the Australian Institute of Family Studies, non-government organisations and community legal centres. The Family Law Forum met in November 2012.

Committees

In addition to the Family Law Forum, a number of external stakeholders contribute to court direction by contributing to or being members of various court committees, for example, as members of the Court’s Magellan Committee, the Audit and Risk Committee and the Family Law Courts Advisory Group. For more information on court committees, see Appendix 8.

Local registry consultations and other activities for improved service delivery

Key Achievements

  • eFiling promoted widely and effectively by registries, one of the methods the Court uses to make services accessible to clients and lawyers from their own desks/computers.
  • Federal/State boundaries being broken down by partnerships at the registry level in the interest of mutual clients, including children at risk. In Victoria, state magistrates can now call the Family Law Courts direct for immediate feedback on the possible existence of any federal family law orders concerning any child before a state magistrate.
  • Staff try different methods to make the registry experience better. For example, in Brisbane, especially in high demand times, client service team leaders regularly move around the registry helping clients without the need for the clients to attend the counter.

Ongoing two-way engagement with each of their local communities—community-based organisations concerned with family support and the family law system, community forums, law societies, family law pathway networks, volunteer networks, other government agencies, including many at the State level—was once again a priority of registries. It can mean many different interactions with a wide range of groups and a wide range of perspectives.

Consultation is seen by individual registries and the Court’s senior management as essential, invaluable and, often, enlightening. It can lead to changes—both small and more extensive—often incrementally as new relations and new possibilities are discussed, considered and tested.

Through consultation the registries receive regular feedback about users’ experiences of registry services and the courts. This inevitably leads to service improvements and ensures that the Court is better placed to make effective referrals to community-based services for clients who may require ongoing support.

Some of the highlights from the year, reported in more detail below, include:

  • In Queensland, the benefits of eFiling continued to be promoted strongly, with further growth in the use of these services. By 30 June 2013, Queensland had 35,666 documents eFiled, the most of all registries. The Melbourne registry had the most significant increase in documents eFiled—31,650 in 2012–13 compared to 19,329 the previous year. Other registries, whilst not having such higher numbers in total, also experienced noteworthy growth in the eFiling of documents. See Table 2.2 for the details, including comparative data across four years.
  • In South Australia, the courts and Families SA established a protocol and local practices about the exchange of information between Families SA and the Family Law Courts aimed at providing a more holistic approach to dealing with children’s matters; also judicial forums to facilitate discussion of matters relating to Magellan, family violence and child abuse, child development and other general issues with a family law and child protection interface.
  • The Victorian Department of Human Services now has two senior child protection practitioners co-located in the Melbourne and Dandenong registries. This initiative aims to help address long-standing concerns about what has sometimes been a disconnect between the roles of the courts and of the state services for child protection. In accordance with the 2011 Protocol between the Department and the courts, the aim is to better meet the needs and interests of children who are at risk by enabling effective collaboration and sharing of information between the Department, the Family Court and the Federal Circuit Court.
  • In NSW/ACT a key liaison and partnership activity aimed at improving service delivery was the Sydney Family Law Settlement Service, a joint initiative of the Law Society of New South Wales, the New South Wales Bar Association, the Family Court and the Federal Circuit Court. Detailed information about this pilot is in Part 2, Initiatives.

In 2011–12, the Court reported on the courts’ user satisfaction survey that was conducted at all major and medium sized registries. The feedback from the survey informed registries about the areas where the courts can perform more effectively and encouraged registries to keep on doing the things which court users say they do well. This data also informed registries’ discussions with stakeholders.

In 2012–13, the Court made a range of conscious decisions as a result of the survey. Feedback indicated a very high level of satisfaction with the experience that lawyers and litigants have in the courts. Respondents recorded that staff are courteous, respectful and helpful and it was also confirmed that litigants consider that their arguments are heard and taken into consideration in court. Areas for change included improved website information, better advance notice as to what to expect at court especially as to how long a hearing might take and also, respondents suggested that the forms of the Court are not as accessible and easy to use as they could be. In response, the Court is addressing improved and more up to date information on the website noting that the courts understand that wherever possible, court users want to work from their desktop to answer questions. The courts are looking to change the standard letters about upcoming court events to give improved clarity as to the time a hearing might take, recognising that people take time out of employment and other responsibilities to attend court. The Court’s Legal and Rules Committee may consider forms to achieve greater access and simplicity.

Local pathways groups or networks continued to be a key forum for engagement. Pathways is a family law interagency network, established in 2005 and funded by the Federal Attorney-General’s Department. It aims to facilitate a more integrated family law system, to include lawyers and community-based agencies that deal with separated families, family dispute resolution and associated issues such as family violence. In some areas members include those involved with health and child protection. Each network develops and maintains cross-sector training to help build stronger working relationships in the family law system.

In addition to general consultations, registries again engaged with community-based organisations and other jurisdictions about best practice approaches to support those clients who are subject to, or fear, violence from their partner, former partner or other family members.

The registries also worked with universities, offering or participating in moot courts and other opportunities and information for students; and with the legal profession at the local level, including for continuing professional development. Whilst not consultation as such, initiatives such as these are important in terms of relationship building and awareness building about the particular circumstances and needs of family law and of the people who need to use family law services.

Following is information about specific consultative activities undertaken by the Court’s registries.

ACT/NSW

Liaison with a range of community groups and representatives has the dual purpose of raising the awareness of courts staff to initiatives and perspectives which impact upon the courts’ clients and informing the community about the courts’ initiatives and perspectives. The aim is to demonstrate openness, break down barriers between the courts and the community and dispel myths on both sides. Registries in NSW and the ACT worked consistently and widely to achieve these goals in 2012–13.

The Family Law Early Intervention Unit (EIU) is a specialist service of Legal Aid NSW, funded under the National Partnership Agreement on Legal Assistances Services. The EIU provides:

  • outreach advice and assistance to people with family law problems in a range of locations, neighbourhood centres and Aboriginal Legal Services in suburban and regional and rural NSW
  • lawyer assisted dispute resolution including the Court Ordered Mediation Pilot, and
  • duty lawyer services in Parramatta registry (commenced 27 March 2011), Sydney registry (commenced 1 July 2011) and Newcastle registry (commenced 1 July 2011), with the aim of increasing access to earlier, expert legal assistance for self-represented individuals seeking legal help.

The EIU provides a greater range of benefits than the previous duty service:

  • co-location at the courts, for the full day of court, enables more timely responses to clients’ family law needs
  • files are ‘firewalled’ from the remainder of Legal Aid NSW’s files, which reduces the scope for conflict of interest, thereby enabling lawyers to assist a greater range of clients
  • more high calibre staff with legal skills and experience, and
  • strong existing relationships with judicial officers and court staff at all levels, which assists in facilitating referrals to the duty service at any point in the legal process.

Sydney

Key collaborative engagement that benefitted court users at the Sydney registry extended to the following organisations delivering their services from the registry:

  • Legal Aid NSW Early Intervention Unit duty solicitor scheme
  • Legal Aid NSW Court Ordered Mediation program
  • Family Relationship Centre Information and Referral Service, and
  • Women’s Family Law Support service.

These services have been introduced in order to achieve the following:

  • to increase access to earlier, expert legal assistance for self-represented individuals seeking legal help
  • to assist clients to take timely and appropriate action to progress or resolve their family law matters efficiently and effectively, and
  • to improve the registry’s efficiency by reducing the impact of self-represented litigants on the workload of registry staff and the court process.

Other activities in 2012–13 included:

  • Regular meetings were held with family law practitioners to communicate Family Court and Federal Circuit Court initiatives and seek feedback. The meetings were attended by the Case Management Judges of the Family Court and Federal Circuit Court and the Registry Manager.
  • A Child Dispute Services representative continued to attend monthly meetings of the Greater Sydney Families in Transition Group (Pathways) and is now on the Pathways Steering Committee. A number of family consultants also attended the annual Pathways event for lawyers and practitioners.
  • Family consultants attended Saturday ‘Road shows’ for information giving to, and consultation with, Aboriginal communities in a number of areas—La Perouse, Redfern and Campbelltown. Two more are planned for Mt Druitt and the Illawarra.
  • Family consultants continued to be regular guest speakers about the role of the family consultant in the family law system at the University of NSW to law students and Masters of Psychology students.
  • Two members of ‘Dads in Distress’ attended a Child Dispute Services team meeting for a productive information sharing exercise.
  • A local Rabbi attended to provide information about Jewish marriage and divorce. This was a successful and interesting meeting and representatives of other cultural/religious backgrounds are being considered.
  • Members of the judiciary, court staff, and representatives from the Department of Family and Community Services, the Police Service, NSW Legal Aid and legal practitioners attended two meetings of the Magellan Steering Committee during the year. The committee considered issues associated with the implementation of the Magellan protocol in the Sydney, Parramatta and Newcastle registries.
  • Several meetings were held in the first half of the financial year between courts’ staff and senior executives of the Department of Family and Community Services. The meetings fostered an ongoing relationship between the Department and the registry, and discussed implementation of the family violence amendments. Further such meetings are anticipated in 2013–14, being seen as an important method for maintaining strong working relations about clients in common.

Parramatta

Key collaborative engagement that benefitted court users at Parramatta registry extended to the following organisations delivering their services from the registry:

  • Legal Aid NSW Early Intervention Unit duty solicitor scheme, and
  • Legal Aid NSW Court Ordered Mediation program.

These services have been introduced at Parramatta in order to achieve the same outcomes as at Sydney (see above).

In addition to this, the following activities from 2012–13 are noteworthy:

  • Registry personnel, including the Family Court and Federal Circuit Court Case Management Judges and other judiciary officers as well as the registry management team, met regularly with members of the legal profession. The feedback from those involved is that these meetings are invaluable for all parties—they provide an opportunity to discuss changes and local issues and to provide procedural and legal updates.
  • The Senior Family Consultant attended the meetings of the Coordinated Family Dispute Resolution (CFDR) pilot program (under the auspices of Unifam Counselling and Mediation), as a member of the CFDR advisory committee. This free and voluntary program for Western Sydney clients was a family dispute resolution process for families where past or present family violence may hinder the dispute resolution process. Although this pilot program achieved good results, funding was discontinued at the end of the pilot period.
  • The Senior Family Consultant also continued to facilitate Family Relationship Centre (FRC) attendance at court, as part of FRC training and familiarisation. During the year, more than 30 people participated in this activity. Again, it is an invaluable part of the courts’ endeavours to build working relationships at all levels with other organisations involved in services to children, parents and other family members.
  • Family consultants also attended a Greater Sydney Family Law Pathways Network facilitated meeting on family violence legislative amendments implications.

Dubbo

  • The NSW Central West Family Law Pathways Network met every two months, video-linked between Dubbo and Bathurst. The network held two family law training events, for local family law lawyers and family dispute resolution practitioners.

Wollongong

  • The Wollongong Federal Circuit Court Judge conducted regular seminars with the local legal profession.
  • Staff, including family consultants, attended the Illawarra Family Law Pathways meeting every two months. Family consultants also worked with the Southern Highlands Pathways, Shoalhaven Pathways and Shoalhaven Domestic Violence Network and were on panels discussing family law and family violence issues.

Canberra

  • The Canberra registry Senior Family Consultant is a member of the steering committee of ACT Pathways. ACT Pathways meets every six weeks to plan and develop strategies for seamless referrals for clients between the various family law service providers in the ACT. The group also undertakes educative activities about family. In 2012–13 this included arranging a number of seminars about family law (children’s issues), family violence and mental health issues. These were open to professionals in all areas of the community and were well attended. Feedback was positive and enthusiastic. The speakers were of high quality and experts in their field. These events provide important cost effective training and maintain professional networking links.
  • The Canberra Senior Family Consultant is a committee member of the Australian Association for Infant Mental Health Incorporated for the Canberra region. The group meets monthly to discuss raising awareness of the importance of psycho-social development in infancy through education, advocacy, research and professional networking. The Canberra branch is hosting the Association’s national conference in October 2013.

Newcastle

  • Court staff attended the monthly Family Law Pathways Network meeting and were also involved in organising activities such as information days for community organisations. More than 30 people attended the various information days. Feedback received included that it gave them a fantastic insight into court process and of where they fit into the system.
  • The registry, including the judiciary, held quarterly meetings with members of the legal profession and staff.
  • Regular seminars were held for members of the legal profession at lunch times. Topics discussed during 2012–13 included the following:
    • how to run an interim hearing for parenting orders
    • how to run a contravention hearing for breach of parenting orders
    • how to prepare for a conciliation conference
    • how to prepare an affidavit for a parenting matter
    • how to prepare an affidavit for a property matter
    • how to draft an affidavit with admissible evidence for an interim matter
    • how to draft enforceable orders
    • how to ask for a location or recovery order and evidence in support
    • how succeed with an order for exclusive occupation of the former matrimonial home
    • how to bring a spouse maintenance application, urgent and substantive, and
    • how to bring an application for a passport order or change of name order.
  • The registry accommodated visits from students from the University of Newcastle as part of their family law training program. More than 25 students visited the registry through this program, increasing their awareness of family law as a career path.

Qld/Northern NSW

The uptake of filing via the Commonwealth Courts Portal (the portal) throughout the region continued to grow during 2012–13. Brisbane registry was again the busiest eFiling registry nationally (see Part 2, Table 2.2 for details). A significant contributor to this uptake is the concerted effort by registry staff to promote the value of the portal to users of the courts.

During the year, portal presentations were made to the legal profession at the registry and also at circuit locations. As a further initiative, specialised training was provided to local practitioners and to other practitioners across the region, using webinar conferencing.

There was increased use of phone and video-link appearances by judges of both courts, and particularly in circuit locations, wherever possible, by judges of the Federal Circuit Court.

A focus on client services saw the Regional Registry Manager commence regular meetings with the profession, including Legal Aid and Caxton Community Legal Service, to develop collaborative means of improving client service.

Another initiative commenced in 2012–13 was for client service team leaders to regularly move around the Brisbane registry waiting area, particularly in periods of high demand, to assist clients, where possible, without the need for the clients to attend the counter.

Following is more specific detail at registry level of other consultative activities for 2012–13.

Brisbane

  • Regular meetings continued with various user groups including the family law practitioners, Legal Aid, Department of Human Services, Child Support and the Magellan Stakeholders Group. These meetings provide invaluable opportunities for information exchange, awareness raising and generally building strong networks across the broad family law system, in order that the courts can best provide services to their clients and/or help ensure people present at the most appropriate organisation, when this is not actually either the Family Court or the Federal Circuit Court.
  • Speakers were provided for external training sessions, including on special medical procedures for medical specialists, on consent orders for Legal Aid and on contravention applications for family law practitioners. On average, between 30 and 50 people attended each of these training sessions.
  • Representatives from Child Dispute Services attended regular meetings with the Brisbane and Gold Coast Pathways Group and the registry also met with the Queensland Legal Aid Independent Children’s Lawyers group.
  • Senior managers attended liaison meetings with their counterparts in state and district courts administrations. Topics for discussion included management of the volunteer JP services across jurisdictions, and implementation and continuing liaison around the introduction of a new transcript provider in State Court locations used by the Federal Circuit Court.
  • Regular liaison meetings continue with the local Pathways representatives at Coffs Harbour and Lismore during Federal Circuit Court circuit sitting weeks.
  • The Federal Circuit Court and courts’ staff worked in conjunction with the Queensland University of Technology to run moot courts for bar practice course participants and also provided opportunities for QUT law students as interns in chambers at the courts.
  • The registry hosted a delegation of Chinese judges and court officials. The visit included a presentation of the portal and operations of the registry.
  • Contributions were made to the KPMG Cost Benefit Analysis of the Court Network, commissioned by Department of Attorney-General’s. This work was still underway at 30 June 2013, its purpose being to quantify the benefits to courts’ users of the Court Network volunteer service.
  • A presentation was made to Court Network 2013 volunteer intake. This included information about the organisation and operation of the Family Law Courts and also a familiarisation tour of the Commonwealth Law Courts. Each week the Court Network provides support services for more than 35 hours within the registry. The Network’s role is to provide litigants with support, if required, when attending court and to provide printed information about community family support services. Forty people joined the network at this year’s volunteer intake.

North Queensland (including Townsville, Cairns and Rockhampton)

  • The Registry Manager attended regular meetings with the North Queensland Domestic Violence Resource Service, the Family Law Pathways Network, the Family Relationship Centre (Centacare), and Relationships Australia, as well as ad hoc meetings with the profession and representatives from State Government departments.
  • Staff representatives met with the Family Law Practitioners Association, Family Relationship Centres, and domestic and family violence support groups in Cairns and Rockhampton regularly. Topics of discussion this year included registry practices, urgent applications, certificates by family dispute resolution practitioner related to parties attending family dispute resolution (under Section 60I of the Family Law Act), Children’s Contact Centres, Parenting Orders program, and safety plans for attendance at court.
  • A Legal and Community Sector Forum was hosted by the courts in Townsville. The forum was organised by the Family Law Pathways Network and judges from both courts spoke. The forum also showcased services offered by various community-based organisations and more than 60 people participated, many from the community sector. Priority topics of discussion included the need for appropriate referrals to be made between government departments and community-based organisations working in the family law sector. A primary aim of the forum was to showcase the full range of services on offer. Feedback to the Family Law Pathways Network after the forum indicated that participants had a much greater awareness of services available to their clients. This was the first time such a forum had been held since the Network was launched on 15 October 2010 and the consensus was highly favourable.
  • Judges of the Federal Circuit Court in Townsville and Cairns participated in moot courts for law students from James Cook University.

SA/NT

Adelaide

Collaborative relationship building with other agencies delivering services to the Court’s clients was a priority activity in the Court’s community engagement strategies at the Adelaide registry in 2012–13. A key activity expected to have significant ongoing benefits for the courts’ clients was to establish clear protocols and local practices about the exchange of information between Families SA and the Family Law Courts. This particularly relates to developing a more holistic approach to dealing with children’s matters and the establishment of judicial forums to facilitate discussion of matters relating to Magellan, family violence and child abuse, child development and other general issues with a family law and child protection interface. As a result of these meetings with Families SA, the registry has put in place an electronic communication strategy for the exchange of information, and it developed and, at 30 June 2013, was piloting a Notice of Risk which is filed in the Federal Circuit Court with every final orders application and response involving children.

During 2012–13 the registry was also active in promoting the benefits of eFiling. A Commonwealth Law Courts portal hub was established in the registry so that clients visiting the registry could independently register on the portal and lodge their documents. This has resulted in clients having the option to file online rather than waiting to be served by counter staff. Regular specialised portal training was provided to local practitioners and practitioners at circuit locations, resulting in a greater take up of electronic filing particularly in regional South Australia. Other activities throughout the year at the registry included:

  • Training and support to the Women’s Information Service court support program (WIS) and the Women’s Legal Service (WLS) volunteer program. The registry provided a two day training program which introduced community workers to the Family Law Courts and the pathways through the family law system. During September 2012, 20 volunteers from WIS participated in the training program, followed by a group of 12 volunteers, in November, from the WLS. WIS subsequently implemented a program offering assistance to women who require a support person when attending court. Feedback from the WLS volunteers identified that the training was vital for them to be able to help clients in understanding and becoming familiar with the registry and court practices.
  • Regular meetings and discussions with the family law practitioners’ branch on topics such as registry practices and eFiling. Topics of particular interest this year included the piloting of the Notice of Risk in SA, the Pathways kiosk and the ability to book file and subpoena viewing times.
  • Hosted information and training sessions with Grandparents for Grandchildren Inc (GFG) and Family by Family SA to familiarise these groups with the registry and the court event pathways with which clients are working. GFG provides a range of advice, information and referrals in situations where grandparents have the day to day care of their grandchildren. The Families by Families group provides a wide range of support and advice to families in times of distress. The training has provided both groups with a better understanding of how the courts works and assisted in establishing open communication between the registry and the groups in relation to court processes.
  • Continued active involvement in the Child Support Stakeholder Engagement Program, Community Stakeholders Engagement Group, Pathways and the Family Relationship Centres. Topics for discussion this year included the rebranding of the Australian Government Department of Human Services, which includes Child Support, Medicare Australia, Family Assistance Office and CRS Australia, and separated families support material. Participating in the stakeholder groups allowed the registry an opportunity to be kept up to date on changes happening within child support legislation, gain a better understanding of local policies and practices of participating organisations and community groups and to share information relating to child support and family law.
  • Information sessions to law students from the University of South Australia and the Adelaide University. Students also visited the registry as part of the universities’ family law training programs.
  • Introduced the Pathways kiosk, a collaborative initiative involving Pathways, the Family Law Courts and family law service providers. It provides service information to separated parties and their legal representatives and assists separated parties to access services. The Pathways kiosk also operates as a ‘walk in’ information and referral service. The kiosk commenced in December 2012 and operates Monday–Wednesday between 9am and midday. The project officer staffing the kiosk has provided court clients with a fast and efficient alternative for booking appointments with external service providers and ensured the judiciary has up to date information on waiting times and appointment availability for external agencies when determining such things as adjournment times.
  • Contributing to a study by the University of Western Sydney in relation to understanding how interpreter services are managed within Australian courts and tribunals. The registry provided input into a thesis on current contracting practices for legal interpreters. This study aims to contribute to the understanding of how interpreting services are managed within Australian courts and tribunals. A number of surveys have been done of both interpreters and judicial officers, but not many studies exist that consider the perspective of registry staff of courts and tribunals or language services providers.

Further to the above, judicial officers, registrars and family consultants contributed to the following:

  • Law Society of South Australia, 2012: chair, continuing professional development seminar and guest speaker at Law Society continuing professional development session—‘Attachment theory’, October 2012
  • hosting information session for participants in SA Bar Readers Course September 2012 and April 2013
  • Australian Government Attorney-General’s Department: working group member, South Australian pilot project in relation to improving the interface between the child protection systems and the family law system (reported on earlier in this appendix)
  • regular separate quarterly meetings with representatives from Legal Aid, solicitors and bar, and Families SA
  • moderated the session on ethics at the National Family Law Conference in Adelaide October 2012
  • coordinated and chaired the Family Law Refresher for the NT Law Society in January 2013, and
  • in June 2013, coordinated and chaired the Annual Australian Family Law Conference in Bali.

Darwin

  • The Registry Manager is a member of the steering committee of Family Pathways. This group met quarterly to progress the work of the network.
  • The Registry Manager attended quarterly meetings of the Family Relationships Centre Consortium Group to discuss local issues and identify new programs to which clients can be referred.
  • Liaison meetings were held quarterly with family law practitioners, chaired by the judge. These meetings provide a forum for feedback from practitioners and aim to streamline processes.

Alice Springs

  • The Alice Springs Family Pathways network is supported by the Darwin network and it met quarterly. The Federal Circuit Court judge attended once during the year.
  • Practitioner meetings were held by the Federal Circuit Court judge while she was on circuit, usually each quarter.

VIC/TAS

Highlights for the Victorian/Tasmanian registries of the Court in 2012–13 included an initiative to co-locate two Victorian Department of Human Services senior child protection practitioners at the Melbourne and Dandenong registries. The initiative builds on an ongoing relationship between the courts and the Department developed over many years (the original protocol was published in 1995), aimed at improvements for mutual clients.

The co-location of the senior child protection practitioners in the two registries commenced in late 2012. These roles are intended to facilitate and enhance the cooperation envisaged by the protocol between the Department and the courts. The aim is to better meet the needs and interests of children who are at risk.

A further context for this initiative was the commencement of the Family Law Legislation Amendment (Family Violence and Other Measures) Act 2011 (Cth) which places important obligations on child welfare agencies and registry managers.

In Dandenong, the child protection practitioner is located in the registry for three days a week as part of her ongoing responsibilities for child protection. The primary operational function of the liaison role in Dandenong is to guide the child protection southern regional response to reported concerns for the safety and wellbeing of children in the context of family law proceedings. The intention is to improve exchange of information as far as practicable and appropriate under the relevant statutory provisions and increase awareness within the Department and the courts in regard to their respective roles in protecting children and determining parenting arrangements that reflect the best interests of children.

The Child Protection Practice Leader (Family Law Liaison) position, located in the Melbourne registry on a full-time basis, is a newly created and dedicated position. The position has state-wide responsibility for facilitating liaison arrangements between child protection and the courts; also to promote and deliver education and training to registry and departmental staff on practice matters associated with family law cases and identify key areas of policy and professional practice that require attention.

It is intended that these initiatives will be the subject of an independent evaluation to determine the effectiveness of both roles in meeting the anticipated outcome of improved services to children whose families traverse the federal and state legal systems.

So far, the overwhelming response to these initiatives from within the courts, Victoria Legal Aid, the legal profession and across the Department’s regions has been affirming and optimistic. Although it has been a relatively short period, the enhanced confidence with which child protection officers across Victoria now relate to the family law system is strongly evident, and directly attributable to the positioning of Senior Child Protection staff within the courts.

Following is specific detail registry by registry on other activities in 2012–13.

Melbourne

  • The Registry Manager and the registry management team hosted a number of meetings with significant stakeholder groups including Victoria Police, Australian Federal Police, Victoria Legal Aid and senior members of the Executive Committee for the Family Law Section of the Law Institute of Victoria. These forums will be convened again in 2014 because the exchange of views was so valuable to management of the Melbourne registry. Topics discussed included: funding guidelines for legal aid and the impact of such changes for litigants and courts including the higher likelihood of unrepresented litigants in some court hearings; improved currency of information for Australian Federal Police in regard to airport watch list orders which in special circumstances are designed to empower police to prevent parents and children leaving Australia; Victoria Police interest in an entitlement to inspect and copy court files and records in the course of their preparation of prosecution briefs; and feedback from the law society about registry services.
  • The Registry Manager and Coordinating Registrar attended Court Practice Committee meetings of the Family Law Section of the Law Institute Victoria, responding to queries about registry management, procedure and trends in filing. The Case Management Judges also attended those meetings to ensure flow of information to lawyers on case management policy and procedure. The Court relies on barristers and lawyers to be well prepared in order that clients are well served and that the hearings can proceed expeditiously. Engagement with the law society in Victoria contributes to this outcome, ensuring that cases are finalised in a timely way.
  • Very productive meetings occurred with the Victorian Magistrates Court and the Victorian Children’s Court magistrates about federal and state legislative intersections, which have potential to cause issues especially where there are children at risk. An agreement was struck that at anytime a magistrate at any site in Victoria can call the Family Law Courts registry to obtain immediate feedback on the existence of any federal family law orders concerning any child in a proceeding before a state magistrate. The formalising of this arrangement is another important step in improving services for vulnerable children in Victoria.
  • The Registry Manager had regular contact with Victorian Court Network, sharing information on developments in the family law jurisdiction, ensuring that network volunteers are up to date and supported in their role assisting unrepresented litigants.
  • Representing the Chief Executive Officer, the Registry Manager attended meetings convened by the CEO of the Law Institute Victoria. These meetings are convened for Commonwealth and Victorian courts’ CEOs for the exchange of information and advice on issues in courts administration in Victoria. Of special interest this year was the CEO reports on technological transformations and initiatives jurisdictions have underway to better meet court users’ expectations.
  • The federally funded Victorian Pathways Network goes from strength to strength with very well attended forums during 2012–13, some of which were hosted from the chambers of the Family Court Chief Justice. Forums included talks on family counselling and child inclusive mediation. The Regional Coordinator for Child Dispute Services is a member of the steering committee for the network and was part of the expert panel for a forum on ’Kids Talk – Hearing Children’s Voices’.
  • The Registry Manager attended the Victorian Department of Justice Family Violence Stakeholder Forums where there was useful exchange about legislative and policy reform and also community-based initiatives. Of particular value was engagement with members of Victoria Police. This led to further talks to resolve concerns about courts’ powers under the Family Law Act vis a vis Victorian family violence orders. The focus and outcome is to ensure that women and children are not at risk.
  • The Registry Manager engaged regularly with state courts and in particular with State Magistrates’ Court registrars who support the Federal Circuit Court’s regional service at regional court houses. As in 2011–12, specific issues that arose during the year were listing arrangements and security. With the cooperative relationship that exists between the state and federal jurisdictions in Victoria, those matters were always readily settled ensuring that the courts’ regional service to clients who live in more remote areas was well supported.
  • The Child Dispute Services managers engaged with Victoria Legal Aid independent children’s lawyers in internal training initiatives to enhance shared understanding on practice issues in children’s matters. In addition, regular meetings between the Client Services Manager, the Regional Coordinating Registrar and the Victoria Legal Aid duty lawyers were held focusing on improved service delivery for clients.
  • Representatives from the Federal Attorney-General’s office were hosted by the Regional Coordinator for child dispute services with a particular focus on family law and child protection interface initiatives. Representatives from the Department of Human Services Victoria and the Regional Coordinating Registrar were then invited to present an overview of the Victorian co-location initiatives (reported above) at the national child protection and family law collaboration meeting convened by the Attorney-General’s Department.
  • The Regional Coordinating Registrar and the Regional Coordinator for Child Dispute Services were invited to provide training to the Department of Human Services legal officers on key provisions of the Family Law Act 1975 and the work undertaken by family consultants, extending mutual understanding between the courts and the Department and thereby improving risk management in relation to vulnerable children.
  • The Regional Coordinating Registrar was part of a panel discussion hosted by Community West Inc on the implications of the Family Law Legislation Amendment (Family Violence and Other Measures) Act 2011 (Cth). The Regional Coordinating Registrar also spoke with a group of young family lawyers and students undertaking a Masters degree with the College of Laws on the preparation of consent orders with the aim of improving the quality of orders submitted to the Court.

Dandenong

  • The Registry Manager continued to coordinate the Collaborative Dispute Resolution Group. This group met quarterly and comprised representatives from five Family Resource Centres in the catchment area, registry staff, Victorian Pathways group and local community-based organisations. The main focus of the Group is to coordinate a ‘drop in’ service at the registry on three mornings each week. Experienced dispute resolution practitioners are available to provide information and direct referral of clients to local family relationship services to assist the judges, legal practitioners and unrepresented clients. This initiative supports vulnerable families access to alternative dispute resolution and access to services appropriate to their needs
  • The Registry Manager is a member of the Family Relationship Centre Reference Groups in Berwick, Chadstone and Frankston and through these forums received valuable feedback about the development of these services in the wider family law system. This in turn adds value to management of the registry and to client service.
  • The Registry Manager has regular contact with the Victorian Court Network, ensuring the networkers were informed about major changes in the family law environment and registry operations in order to support the Network’s valuable role in assisting self-represented litigants. A core group of five networkers supported clients at the Dandenong registry on three days each week.
  • The registry hosted a Zimbabwean delegation to demonstrate to its members family law registry operations in a regional setting. A particular focus was the free legal advice provided to clients by community-based, government funded agencies on the premises.
  • The Registry Manager and Registrar held quarterly meetings with the agencies providing free legal advice at the Dandenong registry, including community-based agencies and the Victoria Legal Aid Commission.
  • In March 2013, the Registry Manager convened a meeting between judges of the Federal Circuit Court and senior management and practitioners from Family Life, a community-based agency which, in late 2012, successfully tendered for the provision of children’s contact services in the south east of Melbourne. The objective was to introduce the judges to the operational objectives of Family Life in respect to managing the large workload of court orders and referrals for supervised contact and for the agency to understand the requirements of the judiciary. The judges gained a clearer understanding of the lead times for supervised contact services and the challenges Family Life faces in a difficult funding environment. Family Life was provided with an insight of the requirements of the judiciary when making orders for supervised time. It was agreed the meeting was useful and that such meetings should be organised twice each year.

Tasmania

  • The Registry Manager participated in meetings with the Hobart Family Relationship Centre Reference Group, Hobart Pathways as well as the Hobart Pathways Reference Group and the Child Support Stakeholder Engagement Group.
  • The Launceston registry service team leader and family consultant attended Launceston and North West Coast Pathways and Pathways Reference Group meetings. These meetings provide an opportunity to share information about local services that provide support for separating families.
  • The biannual state-wide Family Court and Federal Circuit Court Family Violence Consultative Committee meeting, involving all public sector agencies concerned with improved responses to violence, including Tasmanian Police, Department Health and Human Services and Department of Justice, was convened and supported by the Registry Manager. These meetings provide a forum to share information with those organisations that are responsible for dealing with family violence and update them on court initiatives such as the Family Violence Best Practice Principles and Family Violence Strategy. It also provides a means for those organisations to provide feedback in relation to the courts’ dealings with family violence issues.
  • The Legal Aid Commission and Family Law Practitioners Association supported the monthly Family Court and Federal Circuit Court’s Case Management Committee meetings in order to advance the management and passage of cases in the family law system. These meetings have been an important means of facilitating discussions in respect to the efficient flow of cases through the courts.
  • There were ongoing meetings with child protection about matters in both courts where allegations of child abuse had been made. These meetings ensure the smooth and coordinated management of these cases.
  • The family consultants and registrar spoke at a number of forums during the year, including the annual Family Law Practitioners Association conference.

Albury

  • Albury registry is represented on the Albury–Wodonga Family Law Pathways Network, which meets bi-monthly. This enabled the registry and the other members of Pathways to exchange information about local services that support families and provide an update of the activities of the courts.
  • On duty list days the coordinator of the Pathways Network attended court and was available to provide information to lawyers and clients about services in Albury, Wagga Wagga, Griffith and Wangaratta areas, including courses and waiting list times for Contact Changeover Centres, parenting orders programs, Community Health Services, Family Relationship Centres and parenting programs in the catchment area. This active involvement of the coordinator has assisted the Court, the practitioners and the litigants to tailor orders that most accurately reflect the services the family requires within an identifiable time frame.
  • The family consultant attended local and regional meetings with other service providers to promote mutual understanding of roles and discussion on issues affecting families and children in the region.

Appendix 10: Judicial activities

In addition to hearing and determining cases, the Family Court’s judges actively contribute to the development of the law and legal education, both in Australia and internationally.

This is achieved through attending conferences and seminars; membership of relevant bodies; presenting papers and lectures; addressing academic institutions, professional associations and community-based organisations; meeting international delegations and liaising with judicial colleagues around the world.

Many judges also serve as members of organising committees for conferences as well as working in the community with a variety of legal and non-legal bodies.

A summary of conferences and seminars attended and papers delivered by the Chief Justice and Family Court judges during 2012–13, and speaking engagements of the Chief Justice during that period, follow.

Chief Justice’s activities

Conferences attended and papers delivered

10 August 2012

Australian Women Lawyers 4th National Conference, Canberra, opening address

17–18 August 2012

Queensland Law Society 27th annual family law residential

Paper delivered: Recent developments in family law (closing plenary address, 18 August 2012)

27–28 August 2012

The second Children’s Issues Forum, Hong Kong

Paper delivered: A paradigm shift from custody, care and control to parental responsibility—the Australian experience (27 August 2012)

29–31 August 2012

International family justice judicial conference, Hong Kong

Paper delivered: How the judiciary and executive relate in the application and development of family law (30 August 2012)

Chair, morning and afternoon sessions

14 September 2012

Australasian Institute of Judicial Administration appellate judges conference, Brisbane

15 September 2012

Hunter Valley Family Law Practitioners Association Conference, Newcastle

Paper delivered (by Austin J in absentia): A Day in the Life of a Chief Justice

5–7 October 2012

Judicial Conference of Australia Colloquium 2012, Fremantle

Paper delivered: The use of extrinsic materials—with particular reference to social science and family law decision making (6 October 2012)

11–13 October 2012

Judges only meeting and concurrent Family Court of Australia and Federal Circuit Court conference, Hobart

15–17 October 2012

15th National Family Law Conference, Hobart, October 2012, Panel presentation, State of the Nation

Chair of plenary session, The end of discretion?: prescriptive versus enabling legislation

29 May–1 June 2013

50th Association of Family and Conciliation Courts annual conference, Los Angeles

Panel presentation, Family justice in practice

Judicial officers forum, Family Court: the next 50 years

Speaking engagements

26 September 2012

Welcoming speech at the Law Institute of Victoria’s ‘All in the Family’ event

3 October 2012

Signing of the Annex to the Memorandum of Understanding between the Family Court of Australia, Federal Court of Australia and Supreme Court of the Republic of Indonesia, Melbourne

15 October 2012

Launch of the 3rd edition of the Family Violence Best Practice Principles, Hobart

29 October 2012

Guest speaker at Iona Presentation College presentation night, Perth

29 January 2013

‘Tackling the hardest issues for a truly just society’, the Opening of the Legal Year 2013, Melbourne

4 April 2013

International Alliance of Law Firms Conference, Melbourne, ‘Promoting women in the law’

In addition, the Chief Justice:

  • attended a welcome reception at Government House, Victoria, for the 2012 Australian law students conference
  • made a welcoming speech when a Cambodian delegation visited the Melbourne registry, July 2012
  • was moderator of the panel ‘Child sex trafficking and exploitation of child labour’ at the Second Children’s Issues Forum, Hong Kong, 28 August 2012
  • attended the International Family Justice judicial conference, Hong Kong, 31 August 2013
  • attended the ceremonial sitting of the Supreme Court of New South Wales to mark the re-opening of the Banco Court and the 100th year anniversary of the Court of Criminal Appeal, December 2012
  • attended a launch of the Centre for Indonesian Law, Islam and Society, May 2013
  • was the Australian representative at the International Family Law and International Parental Child Removal Symposium in Dehli, 13 May 2013
  • attended Association of Australian Women Judges committee meetings on an as needs basis
  • attended the Law Institute of Victoria accredited specialist conferral ceremony
  • met with the Family Law Section executive throughout the year, and
  • attended quarterly Heads of Jurisdiction meetings.

The Chief Justice is a Joint Director of Studies, Program Committee, World Congress on Family Law and Children’s Rights Inc. The Chief Justice is a board member of the Association of Family and Conciliation Courts.

The Chief Justice is the sole patron of Australian Women Lawyers, a patron of Court Network and a patron of Gordon Care.

The Chief Justice has also been appointed Chair of the working group to develop a Guide to Good Practice on the Interpretation and Application of Article 13(1)(b) of the 1980 Hague Child Abduction Convention. The working group convened in The Hague in June 2013 and developed draft guidelines for good practice with respect to Article 13(1)(b).

Activities of judges

Papers presented by the judges of the Family Court during 2012–13 included:

  • ‘Justice and the protection of children’, Australian Institute of Family Studies conference 2012—Family transitions and trajectories, July 2012
  • ‘Equal shared parental responsibility’, Australasian Institute of Judicial Administration, Doing Justice for Young People, Brisbane, August 2012
  • ‘Ethics case studies’, Queensland Family Law Practitioners’ annual conference, Gold Coast, August 2012
  • ‘International networking and the theory and practical work of judicial communications’, International Family Justice judicial conference, Hong Kong, August 2012
  • ‘Latest and greatest case law review’, Queensland Family Law Practitioners’ annual conference, Gold Coast, August 2012
  • ‘Managing high conflict’, Institute of Arbitrators and Mediators Australia speaking engagement, CSIRO Discovery Centre, Canberra, September 2012
  • ‘Beyond borders: international issues in parenting cases’, Family Law Section conference, Hobart, October 2012
  • ‘The Hague Convention on the abduction of children’, Family Court Judges’ conference, Hobart, October 2012
  • ‘Reform… consistency… emotion …’, Australian National University masterclass, October 2012
  • ‘Expectations of the Independent Children’s Lawyer in the Magellan list’, Legal Aid Commission Independent Children’s Lawyer training program, Brisbane, November 2012
  • ‘Family law in uncertain times’, Law Institute of Victoria family law conference, Melbourne, November 2012
  • ‘The High Court’s decision in Stanford & Stanford’, Northern Territory law conference, Darwin, January 2013
  • ‘The ethical practice of family law’, Law Society of New South Wales, continuing legal education annual one day seminar, Sydney, February 2013
  • ‘Self-represented litigants: tackling the challenge’, Managing People in Court conference, National Judicial College and the Australian National University, February 2013
  • ‘Improving the operation of the1980 Hague Abduction Convention: national and international judicial networking and new approaches to relocation’, 6th World Congress on Family Law and Children’s Rights, Sydney, March 2013
  • ‘Judging the performance of judges’, Australasian Institute of Judicial Administration Pacific Courts conference, Auckland, March 2013
  • ‘Judicial communications’, Pre-conference Institute, 6th World Congress on Family Law and Children’s Rights, Sydney, March 2013
  • ‘Psychological outcomes for alienated children’, 6th World Congress on Family Law and Children’s Rights, Sydney, March 2013
  • ‘Recent procedural developments in the Family Court’, Queensland Bar Association annual conference, Gold Coast, March 2013
  • ‘The Magellan list—what to expect’, Queensland Family Law Practitioners’ twilight webinar, March 2013
  • ‘Parental responsibility’, Queensland Family Law Practitioners’ Family Law in the Tropics seminar, Cairns, April 2013
  • ‘The impact of Family Court proceedings on parties and children’, Sydney University Medical Faculty, April 2013
  • ‘Documentary evidence’, Legal Aid Queensland, Family Law Intensive, Brisbane, May 2013
  • ‘The Italian sisters’ case—the judges’ perspective’, North Queensland Law Association annual conference, Townsville, May 2013
  • ‘A judicial perspective on the family violence reforms 12 months on’, Association of Family and Conciliation Courts 50th annual conference, Los Angeles, June 2013

Conferences and seminars attended by judges of the Family Court during 2012–13 included:

  • Australasian Institute for Judicial Administration juvenile justice conference, Brisbane, August 2012
  • International Family Justice judicial conference, Hong Kong, August 2012
  • Supreme Court of Queensland conference, Brisbane, August 2012
  • Australasian Institute of Judicial Administration appellate judges’ conference, Brisbane, September 2012
  • Family Court and Federal Circuit Court concurrent conference, Hobart, October 2012
  • 15th National Family Law conference, Hobart, October 2012
  • Pre Conference Institute—International Hague Network of Judges, The Hague, 2013
  • Managing people in court, National Judicial College of Australia, Canberra, February 2013
  • Association of International Family Judges meeting, Sydney, March 2013
  • Australasian Institute of Judicial Administration Asia Pacific Courts conference, Auckland, March 2013
  • Australian Advocacy Institute workshop, Newcastle, March 2013
  • National Judicial College judicial orientation seminar, Sydney, March 2013
  • 6th World Congress on Family Law and Children’s Rights, Sydney, March 2013
  • Sydney and Griffiths Law Schools and the Attorney-General’s Dept (Cth), ‘Facing outwards: Australian private international law in the 21st century’, Sydney, April 2013
  • Addressing filicide: inaugural international conference for cross national dialogue, Prato, Italy, May 2013
  • Australian Law Conference occasional seminar, ‘A comparative view of the judiciary: the training of judges in the Japanese legal system’, Melbourne, May 2013
  • Queensland Bar Association appellate advocacy skills workshop, Brisbane, May 2013
  • Association of Family and Conciliation Courts 50th annual conference, Los Angeles, United States, May–June 2013
  • Europe–Australia Medico–Legal conference, Lake Como, Italy, June 2013
  • Queensland District Court judges conference, Brisbane, June 2013
  • New families and genetic identities conference, London, June 2013.

Judges contribute to professional legal development through their membership of professional and research-based associations. The Family Court has been consistently represented on the Family Law Council since its establishment.

During 2012–13 the Family Court’s judicial representative on the Family Law Council was Justice Benjamin from the Hobart registry. Justice May from the Brisbane registry is the Deputy President and President Elect of the Australasian Institute of Judicial Administration, Convenor of the AIJA Project and Research Committee and Member of the Indigenous Justice Committee. Justice May is also the Co-Chair of the Judges Forum of the International Bar Association. Justice Strickland from the Adelaide registry is the Family Court’s nominated director on the board of the Australian Institute of Family Law Arbitrators and Mediators. Justice Ainslie-Wallace from the Sydney registry is the Deputy Chair of the Australian Advocacy Institute and Chair, Advisory Board, College of Law Applied Family Law Masters Program. Justice Murphy from the Brisbane registry is a National Advisory Council Member of the Family Law Section of the Law Council of Australia, an Advisory Board Member of the World Congress on Family Law and Children’s Rights and a member of the National Judicial Conference of Australia. Justice Fowler AM from the Sydney registry is the Co-Chair and founding member of the World Congress on Family Law and Children’s Rights Inc. During 2012-13 Justice Fowler was nominated as a founding patron of that organisation. Justice Forrest from the Brisbane registry is a member of the Queensland Courts Indigenous Justice Committee and Justice Bennett from the Melbourne registry is a member of the Judicial Officers Aboriginal Cultural Awareness Committee. Chief Justice Diana Bryant AO is the Chair of the Programme Committee for the World Congress.

Judges are members of organisations including the Advisory Board, Family Law Practice for the NSW College of Law; the Association of Family and Conciliation Courts; the Association of International Family Judges; the Association of International Judicial Administration; the Australasian Institute of Judicial Administration; the Australian and New Zealand Association of Psychiatry, Psychology and Law; the Australian Centre for Court and Justice System Innovation; the Bar Association of Queensland; the Centre for Children and Young People; Children’s Rights International; the Commission for Children and Young People and Child Guardian (Qld); the Family Law Section of the Law Council of Australia; the International Association of Women Judges; the International Bar Association; the International Commission of Jurists; the Judicial Conference of Australia; LawAsia; Melbourne University Law School; the National Academic Committee and the Applied Family Law Advisory Committee of the College of Law; the National College of Judicial Education; the New South Wales Bar Association and the Victorian Bar Association.

Judges are also involved in the development and conduct of the National Judicial Orientation Program, delivered through the National Judicial College, and teaching for other judicial education bodies throughout Australia. Judges regularly present to law societies and bar associations in their respective jurisdictions, as well as holding informal meetings with members of the legal profession and participating in stakeholder meetings. Judges are also often asked to speak at secondary schools and lecture at law schools about particular topics (such as the Less Adversarial Trial, the use of expert evidence and family violence in family law proceedings) and about their work generally.

Family Court judges are also engaged in organising local, national and international conferences. During 2012–13 these included the Family Court of Australia’s biennial judges’ conference, the 6th World Congress on Family Law and Children’s Rights, and the Australasian Institute of Judicial Administration’s conferences on Juvenile Justice and Asia Pacific Courts.

Where appropriate, judges also participate in judicial development programs involving judges and lawyers from other countries. Justice Forrest from the Brisbane registry hosted Judge Nicholas Crighton from the London Family Drug and Alcohol Court and jointly hosted a visit by judges from the Republic of Korea. Deputy Chief Justice Faulks from the Canberra registry and Justice Bennett from the Melbourne registry hosted a Cambodian delegation. Justice Bennett also hosted visiting Japanese judges and subsequently arranged for examples of Family Court materials, such as judgments, court reports and orders, to be translated into Japanese. Justice Benjamin from the Hobart registry built upon his earlier engagement with the Zimbabwean judiciary and had significant involvement in organising and hosting a delegation comprised of judges, ministers and court administrators.

Justice Bennett from the Melbourne registry is primary contact judge designated for Australia to the International Hague Network of Judges. During 2012–13, Justice Bennett undertook general and direct (case specific) judicial communications, including enquiries, mediation and mirror orders, with the following countries:

  • United Kingdom
  • New Zealand
  • United States of America
  • South Africa
  • Japan
  • Northern Ireland
  • Brazil
  • Mexico
  • Germany.

In addition to delivering papers, during 2012–13 Justice Bennett has co-authored articles on aspects of private international law:

  • ‘International Hague network of judges’ International Family Law Journal (special edition), United Kingdom with co-authors the Honourable Diana Bryant AO, Chief Justice and Hague Network Judge and the Honourable Joseph Kay retired Hague liaison judge, and
  • ‘Concentration of jurisdiction in relation to the 1980 Hague Child Abduction Convention and other areas relating to international child protection: the Australian experience’, the Judges’ Newsletter on international child protection, The Hague conference on Private International Law with co-author the Honourable Diana Bryant AO, Chief Justice and Hague Network Judge.

Several judges of the Family Court hold commissions as members of the Commonwealth Administrative Appeals Tribunal.

Appendix 11: International visitors

The Court’s work in Indonesia and the Pacific during 2012-13 is covered in detail in Part 2. In addition, during 2012-13, the Court had visitors from Cambodia, China, Japan and Malaysia, looking at different aspects of the Court’s work.

Cambodia

Under a program of Children’s Rights International, and funded by UNICEF Cambodia, the Court hosted a delegation from Cambodia during August 2012.

The intent was to investigate child protection and juvenile justice frameworks within Victoria and the ACT and to start discussions regarding the rule of law for children, specifically to ensure respect for children’s rights and due process, as well as to improve the circumstances, welfare and treatment of all children in the Cambodian justice system. This includes children in conflict with the law, child victims of crime and/or witnesses, and children requiring care, custody and protection in Cambodia.

Seminars and workshops were held at the Children’s Court of Victoria, the Family Court and Federal Circuit Court, the Commonwealth Attorney-General’s Department, the Law School of the University of Melbourne, Victoria University and the Sir Zelman Cowan Centre, together with a significant range of police and other experts in dealing with children and the law.

The delegation representatives were Her Excellency Chan Sotheavy, Secretary of State for Justice; His Excellency Kong Chann, Deputy Director-General of Technical Affairs, Ministry of Social Affairs, Veterans and Youth Rehabilitation; His Excellency Ouk Savouth, General Prosecutor, Court of Appeal; His Excellency Lieutenant General Kang Sokhorn, Deputy Commissioner General for Central Judicial Police; Judge Kem Ravy, Deputy Director Battambang First Instance Court; Nuon San, Royal Prosecutor, Battambang First Instance Court; Ouk Kimleng, Legal Director, Legal Aid Cambodia; Op Vibol, Deputy Program Manager, Legal Aid Cambodia; Yan Sokha, Alternative Sentencing Adviser, CCJAP; and Monika Var, interpreter.

China

In August 2012, the Court’s Brisbane registry hosted a delegation from the Suzhou Intermediate Peoples Court of China. The delegation was interested in the intersection between child protection and family law.

Representatives included: Mr Cao Zhongming, Vice President, Court Deputy Chief Justice, the Mediate Court of Su Zhou City; Mr Xu Juemin, Mr Zhou Jianming, Mr Bian Jingye, Mr Shi Wei, Ms Zhang Bei and Mr Ding Huiliang, all judge officers, The Mediate Court of Su Zhou City; Mr Gu Haibin, Assistant to the president, People’s Court of Zhang Jia’gang City; Mr Yan Xueping, Assistant to the president, People’s Court of Kun Shan City; Mr Zhang Honglie, Vice President, People’s Court of Tai Cang City; Ms Chen Jian, Director, Political Department, People’s Court of Wu Jiang City; Mr Gao Aidong, Director, Political Department, People’s Court of Su Zhou City; Ms Tang Xiaohong, Vice President, People’s Court of Ping Jiang District, Su Zhou City; Mr Zhao Weizhong, Vice President, People’s Court of Cang Lang District, Su Zhou City; Ms Qiu Lili, Vice President, People’s Court of Hu Qiu District, Su Zhou City; and Mr Wang Chunming, Director, Political Department, People’s Court of Industrial Park District, Su Zhou City.

Japan

December 2012, Canberra

Ms Atsuko Yanagase, Registrar of the Family Court in Kyoto and a visiting scholar at ANU Law School, along with Mr Tatsuya Oshima, Judge of the Fukuoka High Court, visited the National Support Office and the Court’s Canberra registry. Both were keen to learn more about court administration in Australia, and the role of the court administrator in the executive and strategic management and human resources of the Court.

22 February 2013, Canberra

Ms Atsuko Yanagase, Registrar of the Family Court in Kyoto and a visiting scholar at the ANU Law School, Ms Kametaka and Ms Yoko Kamo, Chief Court Clerk of Domestic Affairs Department of Tokyo Family Court, visited the National Support Office in Canberra to discuss the role of the family courts in Australia in: the provision of information and support to women who are escaping violence, dealing with self-represented litigants, and mental health issues and clients of the Court.

28 February 2013, Parramatta

Ms Atsuko Yanagase, Registrar of the Family Court in Kyoto and a visiting scholar at the ANU Law School and Ms Yoko Kamo, Chief Court Clerk of Domestic Affairs Department of Tokyo Family Court visited the National Enquiry Centre at the Parramatta registry to gain a better understanding of the service. They were interested in the role the NEC plays in providing procedural information and services to clients of the Court.

21–22 March 2013, Sydney

Judge Toshikazu Harima of Kobe Family Court and Takashi Ikeda, Chief Court Clerk of Yokohama Family Court and visiting scholar at the University of Sydney Law School, along with Shinpei Takazakura Judge, Fukuoka District Court, and visiting Scholar at the Sydney Law School visited the Sydney registry after attending the 6th World Congress on Family Law and Children’s Rights. Their study tour focussed on pre-filing mediation, the role of the family consultant in the Family Court, settlement of cases and consent orders, and the enforcement of orders of the Court.

Malaysia

The Hon Mr Muhamad Abdul Karim Bin Wahab, Shariah High Court Judge of the Syariah Court of Federal Territory and Madam Nor Aliza Binti Ali, IT Assistant Director from the Syariah Court of Federal Territory visited the Sydney registry.

The purpose of the study visit was to gain a better understanding of Australia’s legal system and courts’ administration, with an emphasis on efficient and effective case management systems; the implementation and use of information and communication technology in the management and filing of cases; and the eFiling and counter management systems implemented in the Family Court.

Appendix 12: Contact details

Chief Justice’s Chambers

Owen Dixon Commonwealth Law Courts
305 William Street
Melbourne VIC 3000
(GPO Box 9991, Melbourne VIC 3001)

Deputy Chief Justice’s Chambers

Nigel Bowen Commonwealth Law Courts
Cnr University Avenue and Childers Street
Canberra ACT 2600
(GPO Box 9991, Canberra ACT 2601)

National Support Office

Chief Executive Officer
15 London Circuit
Canberra ACT 2601
(GPO Box 9991, Canberra ACT 2601)

National Enquiry Centre

The National Enquiry Centre (NEC) is the entry point for all telephone and email enquiries on Family Court of Australia and Federal Circuit Court of Australia matters. The NEC provides information and procedural advice, forms and brochures, and referrals to community and support services. NEC staff cannot provide legal advice. The NEC is opened from 8.30am to 5.00pm Monday to Friday.

PO Box 9991, Parramatta NSW 2124

Phone: 1300 352 000

TTY/voice calls: Contact the National Relay Service on 133 677 or for Speak and Listen calls contact 1300 555 727

International: +61 2 8892 8590

Email: enquiries@familylawcourts.gov.au

Family Law Courts website: www.familylawcourts.gov.au

Family Court website: www.familycourt.gov.au

Federal Circuit Court website: www.federalcircuitcourt.gov.au

Family law registries

Australian Capital Territory

Canberra

Nigel Bowen Commonwealth Law Courts
Cnr University Ave and Childers Street
Canberra ACT 2600
(GPO Box 9991, Canberra ACT 2601)

New South Wales

Albury

Level 1, 463 Kiewa Street
Albury NSW 2640
(PO Box 914, Albury NSW 2640)

Dubbo

Cnr Macquarie and Wingewarra Streets
Dubbo NSW 2830
(PO Box 1567, Dubbo NSW 2830)

Lismore

Level 2, 29–31 Molesworth Street
Lismore NSW 2480
(PO Box 9, Lismore NSW 2480)

Newcastle

61 Bolton Street
Newcastle NSW 2300
(PO Box 9991, Newcastle NSW 2300)

Parramatta

Garfield Barwick Commonwealth Law Courts
1–3 George Street
Parramatta NSW 2123
(PO Box 9991, Parramatta NSW 2123)

Sydney

Lionel Bowen Commonwealth Law Courts
97–99 Goulburn Street
Sydney NSW 2000
(GPO Box 9991, Sydney NSW 2001)

Wollongong

Level 1, 43 Burelli Street
Wollongong NSW 2500
(PO Box 825, Wollongong NSW 2500)

Northern Territory

Alice Springs

Level 1, Centrepoint Building
Hartley Street
Alice Springs NT 0870
(PO Box 9991 NT 0871)

Darwin

TCG Building
80 Mitchell Street
Darwin NT 0800
(GPO Box 9991, Darwin NT 0800)

Queensland

Brisbane

Harry Gibbs Commonwealth Law Courts
119 North Quay
Brisbane QLD 4000
(PO Box 9991, Brisbane QLD 4001)

Cairns

Commonwealth Government Centre
Level 3 and 4, 104 Grafton Street
Cairns QLD 4870
(PO Box 9991, Cairns QLD 4870)

Rockhampton

Virgil Power Building
Ground Floor
46 East Street (Cnr Fitzroy Street)
Rockhampton QLD 4700
(PO Box 9991, Rockhampton QLD 4700)

Townsville

Level 2, Commonwealth Centre
143 Walker Street
Townsville QLD 4810
(PO Box 9991, Townsville QLD 4810)

South Australia

Adelaide

Roma Mitchell Commonwealth Law Courts
3 Angas Street
Adelaide SA 5000
(GPO Box 9991, Adelaide SA 5001)

Tasmania

Hobart

Edward Braddon Commonwealth Law Courts
39–41 Davey Street
Hobart TAS 7000
(GPO Box 9991, Hobart TAS 7001)

Launceston

Level 3, ANZ Building
Cnr Brisbane and George Streets
Launceston TAS 7250
(PO Box 9991, Launceston TAS 7250)

Victoria

Dandenong

53–55 Robinson Street
Dandenong VIC 3175
(PO Box 9991, Dandenong VIC 3175)

Melbourne

Owen Dixon Commonwealth Law Courts
305 William Street
Melbourne VIC 3000
(GPO Box 9991, Melbourne VIC 3001)

Western Australia

Perth

Family Court of Western Australia
Peter Durack Commonwealth Law Courts
150 Terrace Road
Perth WA 6000
(GPO Box 9991, Perth WA 6848)
08 9224 8222