ISSN: 1035–9060 (print version)
ISSN: 2203–1863 (online version)

© Commonwealth of Australia 2019

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Contact officer for annual report

National Communications Manager
Federal Court of Australia
GPO Box 9991
Ph: +61 2 6267 0640

Alternative format

This annual report is available electronically at:

Website address


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 contractors:

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Letter of transmittal

Chief Justice's Chambers
Family Court of Australia
Owen Dixon Commonwealth Law Courts
305 William Street, Melbourne VIC 3000
Telephone: +61 3 8600 4355
Facsimile: +61 3 8600 4350

6 September 2019

The Honourable Christian Porter MP
Parliament House
Canberra ACT 2600

Dear Attorney-General,

I am pleased to present the annual report on the operations of the Family Court of Australia for the financial year ending 30 June 2019, 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 (May 2009), but adjusted to reflect the changes in structure brought about by 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 2018-19 annual report. This is due to the Courts Administration Legislation Amendment Act 2016 that amended a number of Acts in order to adjust the courts' governance structures to support shared 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 Court's 30th annual report.

Yours sincerely,

[Signed in hard copy]

The Hon Justice Alstergren
Chief Justice
Family Court of Australia
Chief Judge
Federal Circuit Court of Australia


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 2018–19 reporting year.

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

Part 1 The year in review 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 and initiatives.

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 2018–19 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 2018–19.

Part 6 Management and accountability Provides information on corporate governance and judicial and collaborative committees.

Appendices Outcome and program statement, committees, external involvement, judicial activities, information required by other legislation and contact details.

Indexes List of requirements and alphabetical index.

Acronyms and abbreviations and a glossary of court-specific terminology are on pages iv–v.

An electronic version of this annual report is available from the Court’s website at


Alternative Dispute Resolution
Australian Law Reform Commission
Member of the Order of Australia
Officer of the Order of Australia
Australian Public Service
Australasian Legal Information Institute
Creative Commons
Chief Executive Officer
Chief Justice
Digital Court File
Digital Court Program
Federal Costs Advisory Committee
Federal Circuit Court of Australia
Freedom of Information
Independent Children’s Lawyer
Memorandum of Understanding
National Enquiry Centre
Medal of the Order of Australia
Public Governance, Performance and Accountability
Pacific Islands Law Officers’ Network
Reconciliation Action Plan
Senior Executive Service of the Australian Public Service


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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.