6 October 2017

After 17 years of outstanding service to the Commonwealth, as the Chief Justice of the Family Court of Australia from 2004–2017 and as head of the Federal Circuit Court of Australia (then known as the Federal Magistrates Court) from 2000–2004, The Honourable Chief Justice Diana Bryant is retiring.  

At one minute to midnight on 12 October 2017, Chief Justice Bryant’s position as the head of the Family Court ends as she reaches the statutory retirement age of 70 the following day.

To mark the occasion a ceremonial sitting was held today at the Commonwealth Law Courts in Melbourne. Speakers at the event included:

  • Senator the Hon. George Brandis QC, Commonwealth Attorney-General
  • Mr Will Alstergren QC, Australian Bar Association
  • Ms Fiona McLeod SC, Law Council of Australia
  • Ms Wendy Kayler-Thomson, Family Law Section of the Law Council of Australia
  • Ms Jennifer Batrouney QC, Victorian Bar, and
  • Ms Belinda Wilson, Law Institute of Victoria.

During Her Honour’s speech today, Chief Justice Bryant said that it had been an honour and a privilege to serve as the Chief Justice of the Family Court but explained that it is a role that has come with immense responsibility in exercising the judicial power of the Commonwealth.

“In my view it is never more important than it is in family law. We are called upon to make orders which deeply effect people’s lives and that intrude into intimate relationships which determine whether people can move, or if they can see their children or regulate how often they see their children … These are not powers to be exercised lightly.”

With over 45 years working as a lawyer, Barrister and judicial officer, Chief Justice Bryant is highly-regarded, nationally and internationally, as an outstanding leader in the area of family law. Her Honour has a reputation for having an extraordinary capacity for hard work, exemplified by the 720-plus judgments that she has handed down during her time on the bench – whilst also conducting the demanding administrative responsibilities required of a head of jurisdiction.  

The next most senior Family Court judge, Justice Stephen Thackray, will be Acting Chief Justice until the Government appointments a new Chief Justice of the Family Court of Australia.

To obtain speeches from Her Honour’s ceremonial sitting, please email Denise Healy – denise.healy@familycourt.gov.au

Media contact: Denise Healy, National Media and Public Affairs Manager
Telephone: 03 8600 4357 or 0409 743 695