23 September 2010

The Chief Justice of the Family Court of Australia, the Hon Diana Bryant, hosted an annual working meeting in Melbourne today with the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Indonesia, the Hon Dr Harifin A. Tumpa SH MH, and the Hon Patrick Keane, Chief Justice of the Federal Court of Australia.

The three Chief Justices signed an Annex to the 2008 Memorandum of Understanding on judicial cooperation between the three courts that sets out areas of judicial engagement over the next 12 months. The areas to be addressed over the next 12 months include judicial transparency, affordable and accessible court services for poor and marginalised groups, case management reform as well as Leadership and Change Management in a judicial reform context.

Chief Justice Diana Bryant said, “The Family Court of Australia has been honoured to work with the Indonesian courts and the Court is pleased to welcome our Indonesian colleagues to Australia again. It is an occasion through which all three courts are able to deepen our mutual understanding of each others judicial reform programmes. Many of the judicial reform issues faced by our Indonesian colleagues are the same as those faced in Australia.

The Family Court and Indonesia’s Religious Courts have made tremendous progress over the last few years in improving access to the family law courts in Indonesia for women, the poor and those living in remote areas.
The MoU provides a foundation from which the three courts can identify the areas on which to focus.”
Chief Justice Patrick Keane added, “Australian judges learn as much from their Indonesian counterparts as vice-versa, it is truly a two-way partnership. Australian courts are honoured to be able to play a small supporting role in the important process of judicial change in Indonesia, we are committed to supporting the reform process for the long term."

The Hon Dr Harifin A. Tumpa SH MH mentioned that, “The relationship between Federal Court of Australia and Family Court of Australia with the Supreme Court, is a very unique relationship, and with the passing of time, these two Courts have become like ‘thinking partners’ to the Supreme Court of the Republic of Indonesia in formulating many strategic policies such as: eradicating the case backlog at the Supreme Court, developing the case management system, formulation of the Supreme Court’s direction on information transparency including, most recently, the formulation of the Supreme Court’s Practice Direction on legal aid for the poor and marginalized people in building public access to justice. All these areas have benefited from an exchange of ideas with the Federal Court of Australia and Family Court of Australia”.

This judicial cooperation and dialogue between Indonesian and Australian courts has allowed detailed analysis of issues facing the courts to be discussed frankly and strategic responses developed and evaluated. The judicial cooperation between Indonesian and Australian courts has been supported over the last five years through the Australian Government’s Indonesia Australia Legal Development Facility and more recently its Australia Indonesia Partnership for Justice (Transition).

In early 2011, the Australian Government will launch the Australia Indonesia Partnership for Justice to support the achievement of five law and justice outcomes agreed with the Indonesian Government: greater access to dispute resolution services for poor and marginalised groups; improved prosecution of corruption; increased judicial transparency; better implementation of legal aid frameworks; and stronger engagement between civil society and state institutions. This program will continue support for partnerships between Australian and Indonesian courts to achieve these outcomes.

Copies of both the 2008 MOU and the 2010 Annex to the MOU can be seen on the Family Court of Australia website: www.familycourt.gov.au.

Media contacts:
Family Court of Australia - Denise Healy, phone: 03 8600 4357 or 0409 743 695
Federal Court of Australia - Bruce Phillips, phone: 03 8600 3270 or 0419 341 506

SUMMARY OF THE ACHIEVEMENT MADE UNDER THE MoU

The impact of this judicial cooperation, which draws on practical interaction and dialogue on day-to-day court administration and access to justice issues in both countries, is outlined below:

I. The Family Court of Australia and Indonesian Supreme Court undertook the first Access and Equity Study of Indonesian General and Religious Courts during 2007-2009. The first Access and Equity Study publication, ‘Providing Justice to the Justice Seeker’ summarising findings from the 2007 Religious Courts Access and Equity Study was launched by the Indonesian Supreme Court Chief Justice and the Chief Justice of the Family Court of Australia in February 2008 and the second publication ‘Providing Justice to the Justice Seeker, a report on the Access and Equity Study in the General Courts and Religious Courts in Indonesia 2007-2009’ was released in Australia in September 2010 during this visit.

II. The Government of Indonesia (GoI) has committed over Rp335B (A$42 M) over the period 2008-2014 toward increasing access for women, the poor or those living in remote areas to the Indonesian courts, following the results of the initial 2007 Access and Equity Studythat showed the poor were unable to access the Religious Courts (family law courts for Muslim citizens in Indonesia) due to the costs of court fees and transportation to the court. In the first two years (2008-2009), there was a substantial improvement in access to justice, particularly for women court clients, through the mobilisation of these GoI funds through the Religious Courts:

  • a ten-fold increase in the number of poor people who used fee waiver processes to bring their family law cases to the Religious Courts of Indonesia; and
  • a four-fold increase in the use of circuit courts for family law matters in the Religious Courts, thereby directly increasing access to justice for people living in isolated areas.

III. The Family Court of Australia and the Indonesian Supreme Court have collaborated in the area of legal aid posts in courts (known as duty solicitors in Australian Courts). From 2011, General and Religious Courts in Indonesia will collaborate with Indonesian legal aid providers to provide duty solicitors in Indonesian courts.

IV. Both the Federal Court of Australia and Family Court of Australia have worked with the Indonesian Supreme Court toward the aim of greater publication of Indonesian court judgments. Three years ago there were no Indonesian Supreme Court judgments available on line, today there are more than 18,000 available on the Supreme Court website: http://putusan.mahkamahagung.go.id Similarly, a database of High Religious Court judgments was launched by the Chief Justices of the Supreme Court and the Family Court of Australia in February 2008. Decisions can be viewed at www.asianlii.org or www.badilag.net with almost 5000 High Religious Court judgments having been uploaded to this website.

V. The Federal Court of Australia worked with the Indonesian Supreme Court on an audit of all cases circulating within the MA in August 2006 and over the last four years has engaged in a dialogue on case backlog. There has been a significant improvement in the time taken to handle cases in the Indonesian Supreme Court since 2006.

VI. The Indonesian Supreme Court and the Federal Court of Australia have worked on building the capacity of court leaders to effect change in a judicial context. A 4-day Leadership and Change Management Programme was developed under the judicial cooperation MOU. Over 15 Leadership and Change Management Programmes have been conducted by the Indonesian Supreme Court using GoI funding over the last three years. In 2008 and 2009, the Federal Court of Australia, with AusAID support, has worked with the MA Leadership Training Centre to hold Leadership and Change Management training programs for over 50 Indonesian women Chief Judges.