ISSN: 1035–9060 (print version)

ISSN: 2203–1863 (online version)

© Commonwealth of Australia 2017

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Enquiries

If you would like to comment on this annual report, or have any queries, please contact:

National Communication
Federal Court of Australia
GPO Box 9991 CANBERRA ACT 2601
Ph: +61 2 6243 8690
Email: communication@familylawcourts.gov.au

Alternative formats

This annual report is available electronically at: http://www.familycourt.gov.au/wps/wcm/connect/fcoaweb/reports-and-publications/annual-reports/

The online version contains links to the 2016–17 Attorney-General’s Portfolio Budget Statements and the Court’s Corporate Plan.

Acknowledgments

This report reflects the efforts of many people. Special thanks go to the Court staff involved in contributing and coordinating material, as well as the following specialist contractor:

Design and typesetting: Papercut Graphic Design
Printing: New Millenium Print

This annual report is printed on 130gsm Monza satin recycled and 300gsm Monza satin recycled.

Monza Recycled contains 99% recycled fibre and is FSC® Mix Certified, which ensures that all virgin pulp is derived from well-managed forests and controlled sources. Monza recycled is manufactured by an ISO 14001 certified mill.

Letter of transmittal

Image of the letter of transmittal, full text is listed below

14 September 2017

Senator the Honourable George Brandis QC
Attorney-General
Parliament House
CANBERRA ACT 2600

Dear Attorney,

I am pleased to present the Annual Report on the operations of the Family Court of Australia for the financial year ending 30 June 2017, in accordance with Section 38S of the Family Law Act 1975.

This report has been prepared in accordance with the Department of Finance's Resource Management Guide No. 135: annual reports for non-corporate Commonwealth Entities, but adjusted to reflect the changes in structure brought about by the commencement of the Courts Administration Legislation Amendment Act 2016.

A report on the provision of corporate services and the financial statements are included as part of the Federal Court of Australia's 2016-17 annual report. This is due to the Courts Administration Legislation Amendment Act 2016 which amended a number of Acts in order to adjust the courts' governance structures to support shared corporate services and bring the courts into a single administrative entity under the Public Governance, Performance and Accountability Act 2013 and a single statutory agency under the Public Service Act 1999.

This is the Family Court of Australia's 27th Annual Report.

Yours sincerely

[Signed in the hard copy]

Diana Bryant AO 
Chief Justice

Reader's guide

The purpose of this report is to inform the Attorney-General, the Parliament, court clients and the general public about the performance of the Family Court of Australia in the 2016–17 reporting year.

Prepared according to parliamentary reporting requirements, the report outlines the goals stated in the Court's Portfolio Budget Statements and Corporate Plan relates them to the results achieved during the year.

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

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

PART 3: Report on performance—how the Court performed during the period against the outcome and related program. The performance reports are based on the outcome and program framework and performance information in the 2016–17 Portfolio Budget Statements and the Court's Corporate Plan.

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

PART 5: Significant and noteworthy judgments—summaries of some of the important decisions made during 2016–17.

PART 6: Management and accountability—provides information on corporate governance and judicial and collaborative committees.

PART 7: Appendices—outcome and program statement, staffing profile, committees, external involvement, judicial activities and contact details.

PART 8: Index

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

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

An electronic version of this annual report is available from the Family Court of Australia's website at this link: http://www.familycourt.gov.au/wps/wcm/connect/fcoaweb/reports-and-publications/annual-reports/

Acronyms and abbreviations

AAT
Administrative Appeals Tribunal
AGD
Australian Government Attorney-General's Department
AHS
After Hours Service
ALS
Aboriginal Legal Service
AM
Member of the Order of Australia
ANAO
Australian National Audit Office
AO
Officer of the Order of Australia
APS
Australian Public Service
ASL
Average Staffing Level
AUSTLII
Australasian Legal Information Institute
AWA
Australian Workplace Agreement
BAU
Business as Usual
BSDO
Business Systems Development Officer
CaLD
Culturally and Linguistically Diverse
CCJ
Council of Chief Justices
CCP
Commonwealth Courts Portal
CDS
Child Dispute Services
CEI
Chief Executive Instruction
CEO
Chief Executive Officer
CJ
Chief Justice
CLC
Commonwealth Law Courts
COMP
Court Ordered Mediation Program
CPC
Chief Justice's Court Policy Committee
CPSU
Commonwealth and Public Sector Union
CSA
Client Service Advice
CSO
Client Service Officer
CSSMG
Client Services Senior Managers Group
Cth
Commonwealth
DCJ
Deputy Chief Justice
DHS
Department of Human Services
ECONET
Ethics Contact Officer Network
EIU
Early Intervention Unit
EL
Executive Level of the Australian Public Service
EMS
environmental management system
ESD
ecologically sustainable development
FC
Family Consultant
FCA
Federal Court of Australia
FCAC
Federal Costs Advisory Committee
FCC
Federal Circuit Court of Australia
FLCAG
Family Law Courts Advisory Group
FLIS
Family Law Information Service
FLPN
Family Law Pathways Network
FLSS
Family Law Settlement Service
FOI
freedom of information
FRAL
Family Relationship Advice Line
FRC
Family Relationship Centre
GST
goods and services tax
HR
Human Resources
HSMAs
(Work) Health and safety management arrangements
IACA
International Association for Court Administration
ICT
information and communications technology
IP
Internet Protocol
IPS
information publication scheme
ISDN
Integrated Services for Digital Network
IT
information technology
IVR
interactive voice recognition
J
judge
JCCD
Jucicial Council on Cultural Diversity
KPI
Key Performance Indicator
MA
The Supreme Court of Indonesia (Mahkamah Agung)
MOU
Memorandum of Understanding
NEC
National Enquiry Centre
NSO
National Support Office
PAC
Chief Justices Policy Advisory Committee
PBS
Portfolio Budget Statements
PGPA
Public Governance, Performance and Accountability Act 2013
PMDS
Performance Management and Development System
PSM
Public Service Medal
RMS
Rehabilitation Management System
RSR
Registry Service Quarterly Return
SDC
Staff Development Committee
SES
Senior Executive Service of the Australian Public Service
VOC
volatile organic compounds
WAN
Wide Area Network
WCAG
Web Content Accessibility Guidelines
WHS
work health and safety
WHSC
Work Health and Safety Committee

Glossary of court-specific terms

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

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

The Court—means the Family Court of Australia.

The courts—means the Family Court of Australia and the Federal Circuit Court of Australia.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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