ISSN: 1035–9060 (print version)
ISSN: 2203–1863 (online version)
© Commonwealth of Australia 2017
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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.
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Letter of transmittal
14 September 2017
Senator the Honourable George Brandis QC
CANBERRA ACT 2600
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.
[Signed in the hard copy]
Diana Bryant AO
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
- Administrative Appeals Tribunal
- Australian Government Attorney-General's Department
- After Hours Service
- Aboriginal Legal Service
- Member of the Order of Australia
- Australian National Audit Office
- Officer of the Order of Australia
- Australian Public Service
- Average Staffing Level
- Australasian Legal Information Institute
- Australian Workplace Agreement
- Business as Usual
- Business Systems Development Officer
- Culturally and Linguistically Diverse
- Council of Chief Justices
- Commonwealth Courts Portal
- Child Dispute Services
- Chief Executive Instruction
- Chief Executive Officer
- Chief Justice
- Commonwealth Law Courts
- Court Ordered Mediation Program
- Chief Justice's Court Policy Committee
- Commonwealth and Public Sector Union
- Client Service Advice
- Client Service Officer
- Client Services Senior Managers Group
- Deputy Chief Justice
- Department of Human Services
- Ethics Contact Officer Network
- Early Intervention Unit
- Executive Level of the Australian Public Service
- environmental management system
- ecologically sustainable development
- Family Consultant
- Federal Court of Australia
- Federal Costs Advisory Committee
- Federal Circuit Court of Australia
- Family Law Courts Advisory Group
- Family Law Information Service
- Family Law Pathways Network
- Family Law Settlement Service
- freedom of information
- Family Relationship Advice Line
- Family Relationship Centre
- goods and services tax
- Human Resources
- (Work) Health and safety management arrangements
- International Association for Court Administration
- information and communications technology
- Internet Protocol
- information publication scheme
- Integrated Services for Digital Network
- information technology
- interactive voice recognition
- Jucicial Council on Cultural Diversity
- Key Performance Indicator
- The Supreme Court of Indonesia (Mahkamah Agung)
- Memorandum of Understanding
- National Enquiry Centre
- National Support Office
- Chief Justices Policy Advisory Committee
- Portfolio Budget Statements
- Public Governance, Performance and Accountability Act 2013
- Performance Management and Development System
- Public Service Medal
- Rehabilitation Management System
- Registry Service Quarterly Return
- Staff Development Committee
- Senior Executive Service of the Australian Public Service
- volatile organic compounds
- Wide Area Network
- Web Content Accessibility Guidelines
- work health and safety
- 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.