Chief Executive Officer’s Report 2009 –10 Family Law Courts National Communications GPO Box 9991, Canberra ACT 2601 Ph: +61 2 6243 8690 Fax: +61 2 6243 8737 Email: email@example.com www.familycourt.gov.au www.familylawcourts.gov.au The information in this report is intended to capture the main achievements of the administration of the Court over the 2009–10 financial year. It does not include all work and minor projects. Message from the Chief Executive Officer This report outlines the major achievements of the administration of the Court over the 2009–10 financial year. Some of the highlights include: the finalisation of the integration of the Family Court and Federal Magistrates Court administrations the restructure of client services the new Federal Magistrates Court of Australia and Family Court of Australia Enterprise Agreement 2010 enhancements and growth in eFiling the development of a protocol for the division of work between the Family Court and the Federal Magistrates Court strengthening relationships with our international colleagues improvements in services for people from non-English speaking backgrounds\ ongoing work in support of our Indigenous clients completion of the courtroom technology project improvements in the delivery of transcription services ongoing work and initiatives from the Young Employees Advisory Group, and the continued publication of judgments on AustLII and the Family Court website. In November 2009 we remembered and honoured those affected by the bombing attacks on the Family Court at Parramatta and the homes of Family Court judges. The memorial plaque created for this event is now on permanent display in the Parramatta registry. The Court continues to actively promote the reward and recognition of staff through the Janet Kitcher Excellence in Performance Award, the Years of Service Awards and the Australia Day Achievement Awards. We have continued to enhance our commitment to environmental initiatives which has resulted in the development of an environmental policy for the courts, the appointment of an environmental manager and numerous developments in the property space in order to improve our environmental performance. See page 46 for more information. I look forward to 2010–11 to see the developments regarding the future of the federal courts; the development and implementation of government- wide information and communication technology approaches; and the continuing work around family violence. I thank all judges and staff for their commitment and dedication to delivering excellence in service for children, families and parties. Richard Foster PSM Chief Executive Officer – Family Court of Australia Staffing profile and senior executives Staffing profile At 30 June 2010, the Family Court had a workforce of 619 employees (excluding judicial officers, the CEO and casual employees) covered by the Family Court of Australia Collective Agreement 2007 or Australian Workplace Agreements (AWAs). This was a 19 per cent decrease compared with 638 employees at 30 June 2009. Senior executives Chief Executive Officer Richard Foster PSM The Chief Justice, under the Family Law Act, is responsible for the administration of the Court and is assisted by the Chief Executive Officer (CEO). The CEO’s powers are broad (s38D), although subject to directions from the Chief Justice (s38D(3)). The CEO holds the responsibilities and powers of an agency head under Commonwealth financial management and public service legislation, but is appointed under terms similar to those of judicial officers. The CEO is supported by the staff of the National Support Office and is located in the National Support Office, Canberra. Mr Richard Foster was appointed CEO in May 2000. Principal Registrar Angela Filippello The Principal Registrar provides high level legal and procedural advice to support the judicial functioning of the Family Court. As a senior lawyer, she discharges the statutory duties assigned to that position by the Family Law Act 1975, works closely with the Chief Justice and judges in administering the Act and related legislation, and identifies areas in need of reform. The Principal Registrar presides in Court and holds the delegated power to make orders in interim parenting cases, maintenance cases and some enforcement of financial obligations. The Principal Registrar also oversees the performance of, and provides direction to, the Court’s registrars. Her chambers are in the Brisbane registry. Principal Child Dispute Services Dianne Gibson The Principal Child Dispute Services is responsible for advising the Chief Justice and the Chief Executive Officer on the provision of quality child dispute services to the Court. The Principal ensures that the services delivered by family consultants are effective and consistent with the strategic and business objectives of the Court. The Principal also has responsibility for the development of strategic external relationships that promote and position the child dispute services of the Court within the family law framework. Executive Director Client Services Stephen Andrew (acting) The Executive Director Client Services is responsible for the delivery of client services in all family law registries. The Executive Director ensures that high-quality registry services and support are provided to all judicial officers, litigants and legal practitioners, consistent with the strategic and business objectives of the Family Law Courts (the Family Court and the Federal Magistrates Court). Stephen Andrew was the Acting Executive Director Client Services at 30 June 2010. Executive Director Information, Communication and Technology Services Stephen Andrew The Executive Director Information, Communication and Technology Services provides strategic vision, leadership and management of the Court’s communication, applications, information management, infrastructure and statistics services. Executive Director Corporate Grahame Harriott The Executive Director Corporate provides strategic leadership and management of the Court’s human resources, property and contracts, finance, budgets and business improvements, and procurement and risk management. Organisational structure – Family Court of Australia – 30 June 2010 2009–10 Statistics at a glance At 30 June 2010, the Court had 619 employees (excluding judicial officers, the Chief Executive Officer and casual employees) covered by the Federal Magistrates Court of Australia and Family Court of Australia Enterprise Agreement 2010 or Australian Workplace agreements (AWAs). This was a 19 per cent decrease compared with 638 employees at 30 June 2009. 189 employees (31 per cent) were male and 430 employees (69 per cent) were female. The National Enquiry Centre received approximately 359 800 telephone enquiries and 48 500 email enquiries. More than 90 per cent of clients were served within 20 minutes, against a target of 75 per cent. 85 employees and judicial officers left the Family Court during 2009–10. Of those, 26 were non-ongoing and 53 were ongoing employees. This represents an annual turnover rate of 8 per cent against total staff numbers as at 30 June 2010. The Court received 139 complaints relating to general matters of the Court. Of those, 67 were about administrative matters and 72 were not relevant to the administration of the Court. Information, Communication and Technology Services received 2.8 million emails from external email addresses. Of these, 1.7 million emails were delivered directly, while the remaining 1.1 million messages were quarantined as containing SPAM or malicious content. million emails were sent to external mail accounts. 26 459 requests for assistance were logged with the IT Helpdesk. 250 Full Court judgments and 1300 First Instance judgments were published on the Court’s website and AustLII. National projects and news Family law services review On 24 May 2010, the Attorney-General, the Honourable Robert McClelland MP, announced the government’s decision about the restructure of the federal courts. This followed: March 2008: the Attorney-General initiated the Semple Review of the administration and delivery of family law services by the Family Court and the Federal Magistrates Court. November 2008: the Attorney-General released a discussion paper, Future Governance Options for Federal Family Law Courts in Australia—Striking the Right Balance. May 2009: the Australian Government released its decision on the future of the courts. The Attorney-General announced that the government proposed to merge the Federal Magistrates Court with the Family Court and the Federal Court. At the end of the 2008–09 financial year, the government had been preparing legislation to facilitate the merger and had been working towards having legislation in place in the first part of 2010. However, the restructure was delayed due to the government considering the implications of the High Court’s decision in Lane v Morrison. In terms of family law, on 24 May 2010 the Attorney-General announced that: The Federal Magistrates Court would be retained to hear general federal law matters, with the Federal Court assuming responsibility for the administration of the Federal Magistrates Court. The Family Court would be the single court dealing with all family law matters and would be restructured into two divisions. Federal magistrates exercising mostly family law jurisdiction would be offered commissions in the Family Court. At the time of publication of this report, Parliament had been prorogued and the Bill as introduced has lapsed. Enterprise agreement For most of the reporting year the employees of the Family Court were covered by the Family Court of Australia Collective Agreement 2007–10. On 18 June 2010, Fair Work Australia approved the new Federal Magistrates Court of Australia and Family Court of Australia Enterprise Agreement 2010. The agreement was negotiated between the courts, the Community and Public Sector Union and individual staff bargaining representatives. It commenced on 25 June 2010, replacing the individual collective agreements of both courts. The nominal expiry date of the new agreement is 30 June 2011. However, under present arrangements the agreement will continue to operate after that date until replaced or formally terminated. It applies to all employees of the courts employed under the Public Service Act 1999, other than SES employees. The achievement of the agreement was a significant event. It means that within the two courts, staff working side-by-side doing similar work are employed under the same terms and conditions of employment. It positions the courts for future developments in the conduct of workplace relations within the government sector. The agreement supports significant improvements in the courts’ operations to be achieved through the range of corporate efficiency/productivity measures produced following reviews of child dispute services, judicial support, library and guarding services, user pays options, divorce processes and procedures, including conciliation conferences, use of interpreters, technology (video links and teleconferencing), circuits and provision of transcripts. The agreement provides that in order to receive the salary increases, or to progress from one pay point to the next in the pay scale of a classification, an employee must participate in the courts’ performance management and development system (PMDS) and be assessed as ‘meeting requirements’ or higher at or before the date of the pay increase. Concurrent with the agreement, management strategies are being developed, aimed at ensuring that staff turnover rates and staff absences are within APS best practice parameters and are not inconsistent with averages identified in the state of the service report. Young Employees Advisory Group In 2008, the Family Court formed a Young Employees Advisory Group. It was recognised that younger employees can bring a different perspective to issues and approaches in court administration. Staff aged 27 years or less were asked to ‘step up’ and apply their unique perspective and ideas on best practice. The group has a mentor and project coordinator from the Court’s executive. Senior staff involvement is integral to the group, facilitating the achievement of projects in short timeframes that benefit the Court now and into the future. The Court is not aware of any similar group in other Australian public sector organisations and encourages others to consider similar initiatives. Membership of the 2009–10 group was announced in June 2009, with nine employees selected from the Family Court and the Federal Magistrates Court. Chris Vogelsinger, National Enquiry Centre, Parramatta Robyn Birch, Human Resources, National Support Office Rachel Payne, Judgment Publications Office, Melbourne Tijana Petkovic, Family Court Chambers, Newcastle James Gasteen, Federal Magistrates Court Chambers, Brisbane April Grenquist, Federal Magistrates Court Chambers, Melbourne Amanda Morris, Federal Magistrates Court Chambers, Parramatta Rory Barclay, Registry Services, Cairns Kristy Freeme, Registry Services, Brisbane The group’s achievements during 2009–10 included: Environment—initiatives aimed at reducing the courts’ impacts on the environment, including taking the lead role in developing an environmental policy that was released to all staff in January 2010. Electronic technologies—developing a business case to explore use of SMS and email technology. The aim is to deliver better client service and reduce court costs. These messages will not replace formal communication methods. The information technology division has accepted the young employee’s recommendation that portal registrants can opt in for an SMS confirming that the status of their proceeding has changed and that they should check the portal. It is anticipated that this may reduce the number of enquiries to the Family Law Courts’ National Enquiry Centre and improve client service. This initiative will be implemented in 2010–11. Staff development—promoting development programs available to staff, which includes a brief online survey to obtain staff views on the most effective ways to communicate development opportunities and to raise staff awareness of the development opportunities available. The young employees completed design of the survey. The manager of Human Resources has committed to dissemination of the survey to all staff early in 2010–11 and to report to the staff development committee on the results. The Court remembers On 20 November 2009, Chief Justice Bryant unveiled a memorial plaque to commemorate 25 years since the series of bombing attacks on the Family Court and to honour those affected by them. The function, held at the Parramatta registry, was attended by current and former judges and federal magistrates, family members of some of the victims, staff and members of the legal profession. The 1980s was a tumultuous decade for the Family Court. Judges, their families and staff were targeted in a series of separate attacks which effectively changed the lives of all those involved. The plaque acknowledges those who lost their lives as well as the courage and dedication of those who continued to serve the public during those uncertain times. Commonwealth Courts Portal The Commonwealth Courts Portal (www.comcourts.gov.au), launched in July 2007, is an initiative of the Family Court, the Federal Court and the Federal Magistrates Court. The portal provides free web-based access to information about cases that are before these courts. After registering, lawyers and litigants can keep track of their cases, identify documents that have been filed and view outcomes, orders made and future court dates. Users log on using a single user ID and access multiple jurisdictions from a single central web-based system. Enhancements during 2009–10 included: The release of Stage 2 in September 2009. It allows applicants to initiate a new Application for Divorce by completing an online form, paying by credit card, selecting a first return date from a range of dates and then printing out a sealed copy of the application for service on the respondent. This activity also automatically creates a new file in Casetrack complete with party, listing and payment details that also can be viewed inside the portal. By 30 June 2010, 3879 divorces had been filed online (in the Federal Magistrates Court). A simpler registration procedure and improved administration facility for portal administrators within law firms. A new overall look and feel for the portal, including a ‘dashboard’ for users that incorporates a court diary showing listings for the user’s files for the current month, recently accessed files, activity on files, and new events. Work was also progressed on a new more user-friendly ‘landing’ page after the login screen and a section on that page for portal news. Use of the portal grew noticeably during 2009–10. At 30 June 2010: 1279 law firms had registered for eFiling, compared with 667 at 30 June 2009, and 24 073 individual users had registered, compared with 5900 at 30 June 2009. This comprised: 2827 lawyers registered with those 1279 law firms 3854 self-represented litigants, and members of the public, journalists, academics, judicial officers and staff of the courts. One of the significant benefits of the portal is that it has allowed people to eFile supplementary documents in family law matters since August 2008. The table on page 10 provides a registry-by registry breakdown of the number of supplementary documents that were electronically filed in the Family Court and Federal Magistrates Court during 2009–10. Brisbane registry received 36 per cent of all supplementary documents via eFiling, the Melbourne and Sydney registries received 19 per cent and 11 per cent respectively. Documents eFiled in the Family Court and Federal Magistrates Court, 2008–09 and 2009–10 2008–09 2009–10 Adelaide 191 1679 Albury 3 18 Alice Springs – 1 Brisbane 943 9077 Cairns 10 64 Canberra 5 643 Coffs Harbour 26 114 Dandenong 66 832 Darwin 13 129 Dubbo – 9 Hobart 27 85 Launceston 15 311 Lismore 57 174 Melbourne 425 4904 Newcastle 52 1046 Parramatta 187 2029 Rockhampton 33 374 Sydney 125 2870 Townsville 35 634 Wollongong 10 102 TOTAL 2250 25,095 A further 364 documents were eFiled in the Family Court of Western Australia. Indigenous Working Group In May 2009, the Family Court and Federal Magistrates Court established an Indigenous working group. The group collect research data and information to help identify how the courts can enhance relationships and respect for Indigenous Australians. The Indigenous working group consider issues such as: the impact of the shift of the provision of Indigenous services to Family Relationship Centres (previously provided by the Indigenous Family Liaison Officers) how to manage applications for parenting orders relating to traditional adoption practices by Torres Strait Islanders (Kupai Omasker) how to better meet the needs of Indigenous clients by ensuring information is provided to all staff and Indigenous clients, and the development of a Reconciliation Action Plan. The Reconciliation Action Plan will identify how the courts will enhance relationships with Indigenous Australians. It will include areas such as building relationships with the Indigenous community, staff education, attracting and retaining Indigenous staff and ensuring that judges and family consultants have access to appropriate expertise to deal with Indigenous families. The members of the Indigenous working group are Justice Benjamin and Federal Magistrate Donald. Judicial support review In February 2010, a review of the Court’s case coordinator and court officer functions and resources commenced in order to: determine the most effective and efficient model for support of Family Court judges, including the members of the Full Court, and recommend to the Chief Justice and CEO a model that ensures appropriate support in court and in the management of cases. The recommended model needs to make savings without compromising effective support to judges. The review team comprises Robert Gregory, National Projects Manager; Simon Kelso, Acting Manager Human Resources; and Jamie Crew, Registry Manager Newcastle. By 30 June 2010, the review team had consulted extensively with judicial officers and staff in Sydney, Brisbane, Melbourne, Adelaide, Parramatta, Newcastle, Hobart, Townsville and Canberra, and the Commonwealth and Public Sector Union. A draft consultative report had been completed and was being considered by judges and managers. If accepted, the review recommendations are expected to be fully implemented by March 2011. Review into family violence During 2009–10, the Court was a stakeholder in the development of a multi- disciplinary family violence training package. Relationships Australia (South Australia) was commissioned by the Australian Government Attorney General’s Department to develop the training package for professionals working in the family law system. The package aims to provide the recipients of the training with a sound and practical understanding of family violence and how they as professionals can respond effectively. A secondary aim is to provide a greater understanding and recognition between professions of their respective roles and functions. The Chief Justice and members of the courts’ Family Violence Committee have been interviewed on film. These DVD pieces will be integral parts of the final package submitted to the Attorney General’s Department for publication. Registry managers reviewed implementation of the Family Violence Strategy 2004– 2005 and identified areas in which implementation could be further advanced in registries. One example is extension of our safety screening procedures to each and every court event to ensure that the preliminary advice clients gave on their safety and security requirements remains current and relevant for each visit to the courts. Family Violence Committee The Family Violence Committee was reconstituted as a joint committee of the Family Court and Federal Magistrates Court after the release of these reports on 28 January 2010: Evaluation of the 2006 Family Law Reforms by the Australian Institute of Family Studies Family Courts Violence Review by Professor Richard Chisholm AM, and Improving Responses to Family Violence in the Family Law System by the Family Law Council. The committee’s principal responsibility is to complete the implementation of the Court’s Family Violence Strategy and provide advice to the Chief Justice, Chief Federal Magistrate and CEO on family violence issues. During the year the committee established sub-committees to consider each of the above reports. In addition: a separate sub-committee was reviewing and updating the Family Court’s Family Violence Strategy with a view to expanding the strategy to encompass the Federal Magistrates Court another sub-committee was reviewing the Family Court’s family violence best practice principles to extend their ambit to the Federal Magistrates Court and to take account of changes in practice and procedure in both courts, and the committee coordinated a response to the Australian Law Reform Council/NSW Law Reform Council’s consultation paper, Family Violence: Improving Legal Frameworks (a document of more than 1000 pages). Senate estimate committee hearings Senior Executive Service staff of the Court attend Senate estimate committee hearings to answer questions about the Court’s activities. In 2009–10, more than 25 Senate estimate questions on notice were received and answered. De facto relationship laws Since 1 March 2009, de facto couples have been able to access courts exercising federal family law jurisdiction (such as the Family Court and the Federal Magistrates Court) in property and maintenance cases. Since then, ongoing staff training and education has occurred. Shared parenting statistics The reforms to Part VII of the Family Law Act 1975, introduced by the Family Law Amendment (Shared Parental Responsibility) Act 2006, were wide-ranging. Among the most significant of those reforms was the introduction of a rebuttable presumption of equal shared parental responsibility and particular obligations placed on family courts to consider ‘equal time’ and ‘substantial and significant time’ arrangements where the presumption applies. Another important change was made to the ‘best interest’ factors that a court has regard to in deciding what order would be in the best interests of the child who is the subject of a parenting dispute. As a result of the reforms, the factors are now divided into ‘primary’ and ‘additional’ considerations. From the start of the legislation the Chief Justice decided that the Court would, for the first time, endeavour to keep statistics on the ‘time with’ orders that were being made for the parties coming to court. In addition to cases in which judges make decisions, statistics have also been recorded of matters that come to court but in which the parties reach their own agreement without a decision by a judge. The collection and analysis of that data has been complex and this year is the first in which the Court has been able to present comparative data over the first three years of the legislation being in operation. The data can be viewed on the Family Court website. Protocol on work division between the courts In January 2010, the Chief Justice and the Chief Federal Magistrate published a protocol about the division of work between the courts. It provides a guide to the legal profession and litigants to enable matters to be directed properly to the court appropriate to hear them. If any of the following criteria applies, then the application for final orders ordinarily should be filed and/or heard in the Family Court, if judicial resources permit (otherwise the matter should be filed and/or heard in the Federal Magistrate Court): international child abduction international relocation disputes as to whether a case should be heard in Australia special medical procedures (such as gender reassignment and sterilisation) contravention and related applications in parenting cases relating to orders which have been made in Family Court proceedings; which have reached a final stage of hearing or a judicial determination and which have been made within 12 months prior to filing serious allegations of sexual abuse of a child warranting transfer to the Magellan list or similar list where applicable and serious allegations of physical abuse of a child or serious controlling family violence warranting the attention of a superior court complex questions of jurisdiction or law, and if the matter proceeds to a final hearing, it is likely it would take more than four days of hearing time. The Family Court has exclusive jurisdiction in relation to adoption and the validity of marriages and divorces. Either court on its own motion or on application of a party can transfer a matter to the other court. There is no right of appeal from a decision as to transfer. CEO’s Management Advisory Group Each year, membership of the CEO’s Management Advisory Group (CMAG) is reviewed by the CEO and new members are invited to participate. Chaired by the CEO of the Family Court and acting CEO of the Federal Magistrates Court, Richard Foster, the group meets every six to eight weeks and comprises: Acting Deputy CEO, Federal Magistrates Court; Executive Director Information, Communication and Technology Services; Acting Executive Director Client Services; a regional registry manager representative; the Executive Director Corporate; with support provided by the Executive Advisor to the CEO. Areas for discussion or decision over the financial year included: savings initiatives review of registry management structures and duplication of administration review of access to justice – ACG policy statement Comcare issues eFiling environmental policy YEAG merger of court administrations closer coordination with the Attorney General’s Department human resources, property, procurement and risk, and courtroom technology (audio and video). Minutes from each CMAG meeting are now provided to the Chief Justice’s Policy Advisory Committee. Registry services There are 19 family law registries in locations in every Australian state except Western Australia. In addition to sitting in its principal locations, the Court conducts judicial, registrar and family consultant circuits throughout Australia. Family consultants and registrars review and restructure Early in 2009–10, Des Semple and Associates completed a review of family consultants and registrars. The review had the following terms of reference: Review the current management structure and processes of family consultant and registrar services and advise on the appropriate governance and management structure for the future provision of these services to the Family Court and Federal Magistrates Court, recognising the separate case management processes and procedures of the two courts. Recommend the future quantum of family consultant and registrar resources for future allocation to the Family Court and Federal Magistrates Court on the proportion of the number of cases finalised by both courts. Propose management systems that ensure transparent and dedicated allocation of resources to both courts according to the number of case matters finalised. Propose the management templates and executive information management reports that accurately monitor case management outcomes according to the predetermined resource allocations. In August 2009, the Chief Justice, Chief Federal Magistrate and CEO approved recommendations on the transfer of resources arising from the Semple review. Family consultants In October 2009, a single management structure was introduced and the first allocation of dedicated family consultant and registrar resources was made for the Federal Magistrates Court. The new structure replaced the previous positions of Manager Child Dispute Services with Regional Coordinators in Brisbane, Melbourne and Sydney. Deputy Managers Child Dispute Services were replaced by six new Senior Family Consultant positions at these same registries, with three assigned to each court to manage the pool of available resources. An additional six Senior Family Consultants will be located in North Queensland, Newcastle, Parramatta, Adelaide, Canberra and Hobart. Resources continue to be moved between the courts to meet the needs of the judiciary and clients. Registrars The regional management and appeals structure of registrars was maintained. In October 2009 a predetermined level of registrar resources for each location was decided, to be made available through the pool of registrars in each location. The approaches to the use of registrar resources to support both courts was ongoing at 30 June 2010. Resource allocation At 30 June 2010, the management information reporting continued its development. It is an essential tool for accurately determining the distribution of the available family consultant and registrar resources. The transition to the new arrangements for both family consultants and registrars is another key step in ensuring the success of the single administration. The ongoing management of resources will be achieved at a regional level through a transparent management process that will be monitored and regularly report to the Family Law Courts Advisory Group. Integration of courts’ administration As reported last year, in March 2009, in advance of the Government’s decision about the future of the courts, a plan to further integrate the administration of the Family Court and the Federal Magistrates Court was made by the Family Law Courts Advisory Group. This was done to maximise the efficiency and resources of the courts and to help address the challenging financial position facing both courts. The integration of the administrations proceeded. The integrated administration continued to recognise that the two jurisdictions remained as independent courts. In addition to the restructuring of registrar and family consultant resources, a number of changes were made to regional and registry management structures and to client services within registries. Single regional and registry management structure The courts now have a single regional management structure, managed through four regions by four regional registry managers under the leadership of the Executive Director Client Services: Marianne Christmann: New South Wales/Australian Capital Territory James Cotta: Queensland/Northern New South Wales Jane Reynolds: Victoria/Tasmania, and Greg Thomas: South Australia/Northern Territory. A new position of Business Development Manager was created during the year, with responsibility for eFiling and Commonwealth Courts Portal development, the National Enquiry Centre and the business systems development officers. A two-day planning workshop for senior managers of both courts was held in March 2010. The focus of discussions was critical issues affecting both courts, such as strategies for the combined administration, budget strategies (including savings options), governance, roles and expectations, and key elements of the change process necessary to ensure an effective way forward. Client services restructure After consulting with staff over several months, the implementation of new registry- level management structures was completed in all registries in January 2010. The new structure includes two arms—judicial services and registry services. Both arms provide localised and integrated management arrangements to lead and support the staff of both courts. Client Service Senior Managers’ Group The new Client Service Senior Managers’ Group (CSSMG) met face-to-face for the first time in March 2010. It is significantly changed from the Client Service Operations Group it replaced, having wider membership, a new strategic direction and a broader focus across all areas of the business of both courts. At the meeting strategic priorities were set for 2010–11. Members determined approaches on key issues, projects and working parties. The strategic priorities, endorsed by the CEO’s Management Advisory Group, include: Improve our service delivery The group’s mission is to identify and implement ways to continually improve service delivery across the courts. Focus will include: registry practices maximising opportunities from eFiling, including promoting it to the legal profession, and challenging the way information is managed. Improve our efficiency and cost effectiveness The Group has a role in implementing savings initiatives in areas such as: interpreters and translation services fee exemptions and waivers, and child dispute services. Enhanced data quality The priority focus is on maintaining the integrity of Casetrack data and other information to enable eports to be produced that accurately capture a position at a given time. Targeted communication and engagement The group recognises its role in communicating project outcomes and initiatives. This includes engaging with the judiciary, executive and staff. An action plan was also developed with the following projects for 2010–11: developing a Wikipedia-style product for the intranet providing information and inputs into the Family Court and Federal Magistrates Court Family violence Committees’ review of the Family Violence Strategy 2004–2005 progressing the delivery of integrated client service training for existing and new client services, and advising on improved approaches to interpreter services. Registry services complaints During 2009–10, the Family Court recorded 196 complaints compared with 252 in 2008–09. This comprised 139 complaints about general matters of the Court and 57 complaints about judicial services. The graph below summarises the number of administration complaints over the five years to 2009–10. Administration complaints, 2005–06 to 2009–10 National enquiry centre Since commencing in April 2006, the National Enquiry Centre (NEC) has been an integral part of the courts’ operation. In this time, the NEC has received over 1 400 000 phone calls and responded to over 38 000 emails. In 2009–10 the NEC received: 377 529 telephone enquiries (calls received), compared with about 346 000 in 2008–09 24 513 email enquiries, and 4477 divorce documentation requests. New manager NEC Sally Mashman was appointed as manager of the NEC. Sally joined the Federal Magistrates Court in 2000 as an associate to former Federal Magistrate (now Justice) Ryan at the Parramatta Registry. Sally has also worked as a Project Officer in the Federal Magistrates Court Strategic Planning Unit, as the Regional Services Coordinator at John Maddison Tower and in the Chambers of the Chief Federal Magistrate. Counter enquiries During 2009–10, the family law registries continued to provide a high level of service to meet a sustained high volume and achieved against the deliverables set in the 2009–10 Portfolio Budget Statements. Staff working on the counters in family law registries handle general enquiries, lodge documents relating to proceedings, provide copies of documents and/or orders and facilitate the viewing of court files and subpoenas. Client service staff provided an efficient and effective service when dealing with litigants in person and the legal profession face-to-face at registry counters across Australia. The service performance indicators and deliverables for 2009–10 were achieved. It is estimated that the family law registries dealt with 152 538 counter enquiries in 2009–10 from clients or other people seeking information face-to-face. This compared with 143 931 in 2008–09. More than 90 per cent of clients were served within 20 minutes, against a target of 75 per cent. Registries also provide telephone and email services. These complement the centralised telephone and email services provided by the NEC and an increasing range of web-based services Document processing Family law registries receive and process applications lodged at registry counters and in the mail. The service target of 75 per cent was significantly exceeded (96 per cent of applications were processed within two days of receipt). After hours service The NEC looks after the Family Law Courts’ after-hour’s service which is available out of registry business hours. The after-hours service is limited to: the family law jurisdiction in circumstances where there is a risk of a child being removed from Australia before the next working day, or use by lawyers where there is a risk of dissipation of assets from the jurisdiction before the next working day. Rewards and recognition The Court recognises and rewards staff achievements, contributions and innovations. 2010 Australia Day achievement medallions Congratulations to Teresa Kane, Kristen Murray, Raelene Shearer and Andrew Watson, the recipients of the 2010 Australia Day achievement medallions. The Australia Day medallions recognise staff who have made an exceptional contribution to the work of the Court over the past year, or have given outstanding service over a number of years. Teresa Kane, Brisbane Registry Teresa is recognised for her outstanding service to the legal profession and the Court. Teresa joined the Family Court in 2001 as a registrar of the Brisbane registry after over 16 years in family law with a private practice. As well as her normal duties as a registrar, Teresa undertakes additional project work, portfolio work, stakeholder liaison, professional development and external presentations, as well as volunteer work, maintaining professional memberships and preparing and presenting papers. Overall, Teresa has made an exceptional contribution to family law and the Court. Kristen Murray, Melbourne Registry Kristen is recognised for her outstanding service to the Court’s Chief Justice and the Chief Justice’s chambers. Kristen commenced with the Family Court in 2004 as senior legal advisor to the Chief Justice’s chambers at the Melbourne registry. During her time with the Court, Kristen has prepared drafts of several influential speeches and submissions, including two landmark speeches last year: mental health issues and risk assessment in family law proceedings and human rights and special medical procedures in children’s cases. Kristen is a representative on the Court’s Family Violence Committee and also provides secretariat services for numerous other committees such as the Chief Justice’s Policy Advisory Committee and the Law Reform Committee. The Family Court enjoys its reputation for quality submissions to numerous government inquiries largely because of Kristen’s ongoing drive and contribution. Raelene Shearer, Melbourne Registry Raelene is recognised for her significant contribution to the Court and the judiciary. Raelene joined the Court in 1996 as Associate to the Honourable Justice Brown at the Melbourne registry. Raelene was instrumental in building a professional, responsive, flexible and positive team of associates while in the role of associate to an administrative judge. She has provided administrative support to numerous court initiatives such as the Magellan project and the Family Violence Protocols Committee. Raelene’s performance has been exemplary and the qualities she brings to the Court are highly regarded by the judiciary and enhance the reputation of the whole of the Court. Andrew Watson, Hobart Registry Andrew is recognised for his outstanding service to the Court and the Court’s judiciary. Andrew joined the Court in April 2001 as a court officer with the Hobart registry. Since then, Andrew has worked in the capacity of court officer for all three chief justices of the Family Court. This achievement is indicative of Andrew’s exceptional performance and the level of rapport he has with the Court’s judiciary. Anyone fortunate enough to work with Andrew becomes aware of his commitment to the Court and empathy with litigants. Andrew’s commitment to the Court extends beyond performing the every day responsibilities of court officer, which is demonstrated by his supportive and thoughtful approach and his undertaking a variety of roles such as harassment contact officer for the Hobart registry. Order of Australia On 14 June 2010 Justice Dessau was appointed a member of the General Division of the Order of Australia (AM) for service to the judiciary, particularly through contributions in the area of family law policy and practice, and to the community. Retired Family Court judge, the Honourable Lloyd Stacy Waddy was appointed a member of the Order of Australia for service to the law, the constitutional debate and to the community through a range of educational and arts organisations. His Honour was appointed a Family Court judge in July 1998 and served the Court for over ten years, retiring in December 2009. During this time he was also appointed Queens Counsel. 2009 Janet Kitcher Award The 2009 Janet Kitcher Excellence in Performance Award winner was Registrar Jenny Paxton from Adelaide. Jenny joined the Family Court in 1992 after a successful career as a solicitor in private practice. During the past 17 years she has adopted significant committee and portfolio responsibilities relating to superannuation, costs and child support. Jenny has also engaged in relevant part-time study, delivered numerous presentations and maintained networks with other organisations. Her outstanding knowledge in the area of superannuation has been utilised by the Court at both a local and national level. IACA President-Elect Richard Foster (CEO) was appointed as the President-Elect of the International Association for Court Administration (IACA). As the President-Elect, Richard will be Vice President until the end of 2011 when he becomes the President. The role of the President-Elect is to promote courts administration around the world, raising the profile of courts administration, liaising with 45 other member countries and looking at innovation and best practice. Diploma Masterclass encouragement award Anne Meier (Records Manager, Information and Knowledge Management team) received the Student Encouragement Award for the Diploma Masterclass 2009 (ACT Branch Masterclass Diploma Prize 2009). Queensland law society overall excellence award Jean McAllister was awarded the Queensland Law Society (QLS) Prize for Overall Excellence for the College of Law Queensland ‘Practical Legal Training’ course. At the graduation ceremony Jean was invited to give a speech on behalf of the students in her course and was presented with her award by Glenn Ferguson from QLS. CPA qualified The Certified Practising Accountant (CPA) designation is a world-class, internationally recognised professional qualification. CPA status is achieved through the completion of 6 units of study (fulltime) and a minimum of 3 years supervision by a CPA mentor. This is in addition to the university prerequisites for membership. Nathan Lozberis was awarded his CPA status on 23 December 2009. It was the culmination of 16 years of study, most of which was completed on a part-time basis. Certificate IV in Government Security In early 2010, Kristy Cooper (Administration Manager, Marshals Office) obtained a Certificate IV in Government Security. This qualification helps Kristy meet the challenges associated in assisting with a wide scope of security issues across the Family Court and Federal Magistrates Court. Masters in Information Architecture In April this year, Michele Evans topped the Masters program in Information Architecture that she had been studying since 2006. Michele graduated with a distinction. Master of Arts in Information and Knowledge Management In November 2009, Sona Muradyan completed four and a half years of study resulting in a Master of Arts in Information and Knowledge Management. Years of Service awards The Sydney registry celebrated a combined 200 years of service to the Family Court with 10 staff members being awarded 20 Year Service awards. Richard Foster (CEO) and Marianne Christmann (Regional Registry Manager, NSW/ACT) presented the awards on 9 March 2010. Human Resources Human resources is responsible for pay and reporting and human resources strategy and recruitment. A single new enterprise agreement for the courts For most of the period under review, the employees of the Family Court were covered by the Family Court of Australia Collective Agreement 2007 which had a nominal expiry date of 30 June 2010. Following the merger of the corporate functions of the Family Court and the Federal Magistrates Court, it was agreed that the current collective agreements covering staff of the courts should be replaced with a single enterprise agreement that was consistent with the Government’s newly issued policy parameters for bargaining in Australian Government Employment. The Federal Magistrates Court of Australia and Family Court of Australia Enterprise Agreement 2010 was negotiated between the courts, the Community and Public Sector Union and individual staff bargaining representatives. It commenced on 25 June 2010 and from that date superseded the existing individual collective agreements of each court. The agreement applies to all employees of the Family Court of Australia and the Federal Magistrates Court of Australia employed under the Public Service Act 1999, other than SES employees. This was a significant event. It provided that from the commencement date, people working side-by-side doing similar work would be working under the same terms and conditions of employment. It also positions the courts for future developments in the conduct of workplace relations within the government sector. The agreement supports significant improvements in the courts’ operations to be produced through a range of corporate efficiency/productivity measures specified in the agreement. In return, the agreement provides for two pay increases, each of 1.5 per cent, to apply from 1 July 2010 and 1 January 2011, respectively. Staff Development Committee In 2009–10, the Staff Development Committee (SDC) arranged for various staff training and development tools to be added to the E-learn portal of the Court’s intranet. This included modules on countering bullying and harassment; also for dealing with difficult and persistent clients. The SDC arranged for a training program on managing difficult interactions with clients conducted by Dr Rosie Purcell. The program was designed for staff who manage in-person and telephone interactions with clients, particularly those who display hostile or aggressive behaviour, or who consume a disproportionate amount of staff time and energy (e.g. via repetitive, non-productive encounters). The full day program consisted of four major components: an overview of the characteristics of difficult clients, including factors which motivate or sustain problematic behaviours (e.g. repeated/persistent/highly emotional enquiries) and different types of clients (‘normal’, ‘difficult’, ‘mentally disordered’ and ‘abnormally persistent’) instruction in recognising the early warning signs for verbal and physical hostility or aggression among clients, and how to prevent an escalation of these behaviours and diffuse tense situations instruction in communication techniques to manage difficult conversations, including repeated or unnecessarily prolonged encounters, hostile or aggressive behaviour and threats (to staff or others), and discussion of managing stress and frustration associated with dealing with difficult clients and methods to enhancing staff safety during difficult interactions. The SDC also arranged for the Court to purchase five Australian Public Service Commission training kits in relation to APS values and code of conduct training. Human resources is now planning training for all staff across the courts in the next 6–12 months. The SDC also facilitated staff exchanges between different locations. The SDC is integral to the Court’s approach to the continuing professional and career development of staff, being a key forum through which staff representatives have shared responsibility for identifying and determining development needs and opportunities. Pegasus scholar Monisha Khandker, a 27 year old barrister from Bristol in the United Kingdom, was awarded the 2009 Pegasus scholarship. Monisha worked in the Chief Justice’s chambers from 13 July to 2 October 2009. Monisha was called to the bar in October 2008, where she practised in family and criminal law. Monisha also held a number of voluntary positions, including as advocate for the Free Representation Unit, an advocate for the Avon and Bristol Law Centre and as a trustee of British Mind, which is involved in developing initiatives to introduce mental health training in the legal profession. During her time in the Chief Justice’s chambers, Monisha assisted in preparing pre- appeal summaries for Full Court matters, worked on updating the appeal principles manual and undertook research into contravention of family court orders. Monisha also reviewed and provided comment on draft Full Court judgments prepared by the Chief Justice. Monisha analysed recent decisions to identify and summarise examples of cases where 50/50 time was awarded, where the mother received the majority of time and where the father received the majority of time. Monisha not only assisted the Chief Justice during her placement, she provided assistance to Justice O’Ryan in preparing the Full Court judgment in Price & D’Costa and assisted Justice Cronin when His Honour was conducting the Judicial Duty List. National Occupational Health And Safety Committee The committee is being reorganised to include representation from the Federal Magistrates Court. The new committee will work closely with the National Consultative Committee to promote health and safety awareness throughout the courts. Flu vaccinations The enterprise agreement provides employees with the option of participating in an annual influenza vaccination program. In 2010 the program was delivered during May by Calistica Health & Wellbeing Pty Ltd. Employee Assistance Program Converge International is the courts’ employee assistance program (EAP) service provider. Converge is the largest provider of enterprise-wide people-support services in Australia. Some of these services include counselling and support about any work- related issues, such as work relationships, career counselling, conflict, and bullying and/or harassment. They also help with personal issues including relationships, stress, depression, anxiety, substance abuse, addictions, gambling, grief, loss and bereavement. Counselling and advice can be provided to employees by telephone, face-to-face at a Converge International office, the workplace or another suitable location. A ‘manager assist’ service is also available to managers to discuss workplace issues. Converge provides generic data to the Court to guide the development of wellbeing strategies. Peer support program The peer support program provides a network of trained staff in the workplace to ensure that skilled support is available for immediate assistance should an individual experience a distressing situation or difficult event. This program is designed to complement the employee assistance program and allows support to be available immediately should an incident occur. Peer support officers from any location can provide assistance as required. There is no restriction on staff assessing officers from outside their immediate work area. All communication with trained peer support officers is strictly confidential. National Consultative Committee The Court’s National Consultative Committee (NCC) provides all employees with the opportunity to communicate, consult and share information between themselves and the Court. NCC employee representatives are elected by their peers to communicate openly, effectively and honestly at committee meetings, and then to provide feedback and briefings to the employees they represent. This committee is also being reorganised to include representation from the Federal Magistrates Court. Presently, membership of the NCC includes the CEO’s representative, Donna Simotas (until end April 2010) and currently Simon Kelso and the following elected staff representatives: Amber Lawson (until May 2010)—National Support Office Trish Zellner—Associates Athena Sikiotis—Registrars John Green and Carol MacPherson—Client services Kyall Sheppard—Family consultants. A representative of the Community and Public Sector Union is also invited to attend meetings. Discrimination policy The Family Court seeks to provide a workplace free from discrimination and is committed to preventing discrimination both against its staff and those who must deal with the Court’s administration. The Court’s discrimination policy seeks to carry these commitments into effect. The policy is available on the Court’s intranet. Staff turnover During 2009–10, 85 employees and judicial officers left the Court. Of these, 53 were ongoing employees, representing an annual turnover rate of 8 per cent against staff numbers at 30 June 2010. In 2008–09 the percentage of ongoing staff separations by total staff numbers was also 8 per cent. This compares with ongoing staff separations of 14 per cent in 2007–08 and 13 per cent in 2006–07. Occupational health and safety The Court recognises that effective health and safety management reduces the social and financial costs of occupational injury and illness. Throughout 2009–10 the Court has: developed and implemented health and safety management arrangements for the Court which document the management of occupational health and safety within the Court developed and implemented a first aid policy rolled out national training (workplace prevention and injury management) to all court managers and supervisors, and initiated national training to all front line employees on how to deal with difficult and persistent clients. The Court’s occupational health and safety employee benefits include advice on ergonomic workstations, provision of ergonomic furniture, access to a free employee assistance program, annual influenza vaccinations, eyesight testing, access to peer support officers, first aid officers and harassment contact officers. Whilst the Court’s local occupational health and safety committees continued to meet throughout 2009–10, there was also wide consultation with staff on health and safety management arrangements. National communications National communications is responsible for building, promoting and protecting the reputation of the Family Court of Australia and the Federal Magistrates Court of Australia, and for positioning and promoting the role of the courts to both internal and external audiences. Family Court Bulletin The Family Court Bulletin is an external publication which focuses on trends in family law, the work of the Court, new programs and initiatives, judicial and executive appointments and retirements, and interesting judgements. Since the first issue was distributed in December 2007, the bulletin has been issued twice a year to legal practitioners, parliamentarians and other key stakeholders, with subscription growing steadily every month. Back issues can be viewed on www.familycourt.gov.au Brochures and forms National communications is responsible for publishing all Family Court and Federal Magistrates Court brochures, reports, forms and newsletters. New products published during the 2009–10 financial year include: Annual Report 2008–2009 and summary brochure Case assessment conference Indonesian publications Service charter and service commitments Indigenous clients and the Family Law Courts Subpoenas served in New Zealand Appeal procedures—Full Court Appeal procedures—Single Judge Why am I going to see a family consultant—information for kids aged 5–8 Why am I going to see a family consultant—information for kids aged 9–12 Publications, forms and brochures redrafted during the 2009–10 financial year include: Application for divorce Initiating application and Response to initiating application Going to court—tips for your court hearing Divorce service kit Affidavit non-filing of family dispute resolution certificate Application for consent orders Document request form Service kit Marriage, families and separation Do you need information about the Family Law Courts? Court fees Applying to the Court for orders The Family Law Courts and your privacy Subpoena—information for a named person (served with a subpoena) Subpoena—information for a person requesting the issue of a subpoena eFiling user guide Commonwealth Courts Portal Parenting Orders—obligations, consequences and who can help Complaints and feedback Do you have fears for your safety when attending court? Annual report The Family Court’s Annual Report 2008–2009 was tabled in Parliament on 30 October 2009. Major initiatives highlighted in the report included: the integration of the administration of the two courts decisions of the Court becoming more transparent with most judgments published online achievements in eFiling the development of the less adversarial trial education package family violence best practice principles developed to assist judicial officers hearing matters with alleged family violence the Court releasing statistics in light of the new shared parenting legislation, and the ongoing work and initiatives from the Young Employees Advisory Group. This year’s report included statistics on issues sought on Final Order cases. These statistics highlighted that there has been a shift towards the Court dealing with a greater proportion of complex financial issues (such as the splitting of superannuation, corporate businesses and expensive and complex finance and property portfolios). Staff newsletter survey In December 2009, an all staff survey was conducted to determine what staff want and don’t want in regards to the staff newsletter. The responses and comments from staff were positive and similar to results of a survey conducted in 2004. On the whole staff are satisfied with the content, the look of the newsletters and find the articles informative and easy to read. However, there were a few suggestions on ways to improve the newsletters: 66 per cent opted for an electronic newsletter over a printed newsletter. As such Courtside has gone electronic from the first issue of 2010. The majority of staff indicated they would like four issues per year. Courtside and The Court Exchange (Federal Magistrates Court) are now distributed four times per year as Autumn, Winter, Spring and Summer editions. Most staff expressed an interest in seeing more staff and registry focused articles. To incorporate this, the newsletters now include a new ‘staff updates’ section. While staff questioned the need for two separate newsletters, a decision was made that both courts would retain their own staff newsletter. Children’s art competition The Family Law Courts’ children’s art competition was held in 2009–10 with the winners announced at year’s end. The competition theme was ‘My Beautiful World’ and more than 150 entries were received from throughout Australia. Ten winners each received a personally engraved MP3 player, with 13 entrants receiving a highly commended certificate. The courts introduced the competition in 2008 and it is held in alternate years. It is one approach that has been adopted to raise the ‘human face’ of the courts with the general community, particularly with children, their parents and carers. Artwork from entrants is well-regarded in the courts. For example, it is used in publications, promotional products and in displays at registries—the places at which children will most likely have interactions with the courts. The competition was promoted in various ways: through registries, school education departments, family relationship centres, the courts’ websites and the Family Law Courts website. New forms master list A new list of Family Court and Family Law Court forms was created and is available on the Family Court’s intranet. The document includes a list of current version numbers, printed or ‘web only’ forms, and obsolete forms. Website During the year the Family Court website under went usability testing by an external company. Five personas tested the updated information architecture of the website to ensure ease of use for our target audiences. The five user groups tested were client, lawyer, journalist, job seeker and employee. Each user was given a set task to find information specific to their needs and the movements they made through the website were tracked. The success of the users finding their required information confirmed that the changes to the information architecture have made it easier for users to navigate through the website information. Major changes to the information architecture on the Family Court website included: all forms, fees and brochures were moved to the Family Law Courts website, although these can still be accessed via a link from the Family Court website a new section was added called eServices. This provides specific information relating to the Commonwealth Courts Portal and eFiling as well as a direct link, and both the ‘Family Law’ and ‘About the court’ sections have been updated and the subheadings now reflect the grouping of more specific information The next phase of the Family Court website development project will be to update the look and feel. Work is currently being done on this, with the new website launch planned for the latter half of 2010. Family Court website statistics July 2009 – June 2010 Month Unique Visitors July 2009 36,138 August 2009 38,737 September 2009 38,733 October 2009 39,744 November 2009 39,231 December 2009 32,316 January 2010 39,391 February 2010 41,745 March 2010 47,509 April 2010 36,707 May 2010 36,663 June 2010 33,987 Family Law Courts website statistics July 2009 – June 2010 Month Unique Visitors July 2009 39,814 August 2009 41,452 September 2009 40,611 October 2009 41,883 November 2009 41,762 December 2009 36,424 January 2010 46,582 February 2010 46,472 March 2010 52,896 April 2010 52,034 May 2010 55,697 June 2010 52,618 Translated information products During 2009–10, publications in languages other than English were reviewed to incorporate rule amendments and changes to court services. The Family Law Courts have 11 publications translated into ten languages. The translations are fact sheets, being summaries of the full English versions with simplified information written in question and answer format. This is the preferred format for translated information as some legal terms and court processes do not translate well into other languages. The provision of translated information is essential to support access to justice for clients with English as a second language. Languages available Arabic Filipino Greek Korean Serbian Simplified Chinese Traditional Chinese Spanish Turkish Vietnamese Publications translated Marriage, families and separation Before you file—pre-action procedure for financial cases Subpoena—information for requesting person Enforcement hearings Third party debt notices Key contacts Compliance with parenting orders Going to Court—tips for your court hearing What the Family Law Courts staff can and cannot do for clients Do you have fears for your safety when attending court? Parenting orders—obligations, consequences and who can help? Media The past reporting year was the first full year of operating with a single media manager for the management of media issues for both the Family Court and the Federal Magistrates Court. In 2009–10 the Court’s media manager received 121 enquiries from various media outlets. An additional 49 enquiries were received that related specifically to the Federal Magistrates Court. Further to these, there were numerous telephone enquiries which were answered as a one-off and not treated as a formal request for information from the Court. With a focus on family law and the media, Deputy Chief Justice Faulks made the keynote address, Conflicts of interests: the right to privacy and publicity? to the Law Institute of Victoria’s Family Law Conference held in Melbourne on 16 October 2009. Following the address, Deputy Chief Justice Faulks and the Court’s media manager participated in a panel discussion, contributing views about the issues and difficulties in dealing with family law and the needs of the media. The Family Court issued six media releases during the year. Two of these related to a case in which a publication order was made allowing the details of two missing children to be published to assist in their recovery. The media manager oversees the coordination of media coverage for publication orders that have been made by the Court. This process involves developing media releases and public information, liaising with legal representatives and their clients, the Australian Federal Police media unit and media outlets. Compared to the previous reporting year when five publication orders were made by the Court, during 2009–10 only one publication order was issued, (although the Federal Magistrates Court issued six during this same period). Initiated by the Court’s media release and direct contact with the media, this single publication order received a significant amount of national media coverage. Approximately 50 individual media reports (in print and electronic media) relating to this one matter were monitored. Such widespread coverage assisted in the relatively quick recovery of the missing children, within four days of the distribution of the first media release. Assistance was provided to journalists enquiring about other Family Court (Hague Convention) cases involving international abduction. Further media coverage has been obtained on two particular cases and one longer-term matter was resolved during the year. A reasonable amount of time was spent liaising with journalists that have a particular interest in family law and the Court. Chief Justice Bryant provided one-on-one interviews with journalists from The Age, The Australian, ABC TV, 2GB radio Sydney, MT radio Melbourne, Monash Magazine, Melbourne Weekly and the Australian Institute of Family Studies publication, Family Matters. In addition, the Deputy Chief Justice participated in a radio interview with ABC radio Canberra and Justice Austin was interviewed by local Newcastle media outlets following his appointment. As well as direct interviews, many on-the-record statements were provided to journalists seeking comment from the Court in regard to a range of relevant topics. Of particular interest during the year was the issue of family violence largely due to the various reviews and reports that were initiated by the Government. There seemed to be a significant increase in journalists’ awareness of the Court’s published decisions and therefore an increased number of reports that directly covered these decisions, particularly in The Australian. Feedback received by the media manager from journalists was very positive when they were directed to the published decisions which they could report from. Other issues that received a significant amount of coverage included: the Court’s decision in Robins & Ruddock relocation matters and shared parenting issues, and the Government’s proposed re-structure of the federal court system. Work commenced during the year in reviewing the Court’s media monitoring service and a new contract will be entered into during the 2010–11 financial year. Public Information Officers’ conference National communications was responsible for organising the 2nd Public Information Officers conference for all communication and media managers from courts Australia-wide. Held in the Chief Justice’s Chambers in Melbourne, participants discussed significant achievements and shared learnings based on each court’s experiences in dealing with the media and general communication issues. The group also heard from retired Supreme Court judge the Honourable Philip Cummins and Herald Sun journalist Norrie Ross. The conference is held every two years. Joint Client Service Charter and Service Commitments During 2009–10, the separate service charters of the Family Court and the Federal Magistrates Court were amalgamated. The new joint Service Charter sets out the service level standards clients can expect from dealing with staff of the courts and how clients and other users of court services may make suggestions or complaints about services, policy, practice or procedures. This document is available at www.familycourt.gov.au and www.fmc.gov.au or on the Family Law Courts website www.familylawcourts.gov.au The joint summary Service Commitments document is on display at all registries and on the websites listed above. It highlights what clients of the courts can expect from client services staff, what the staff cannot do, clients rights and responsibilities and how clients can help the courts to help them. Copyright During 2009–10, national communications received and processed over 30 copyright requests from external organisations seeking permission to use or reproduce information published by the courts. Photoshoot In May 2010, a professional photoshoot was conducted at the Sydney registry and John Maddison Tower to increase the courts’ photographic library. In recent years, photoshoots have also been conducted at the Brisbane, Melbourne, Adelaide and Parramatta registries. New judicial stationery In April 2010, new stationery was introduced for judges and federal magistrates. The package consists of a business card, letterhead, with compliments slip and notepad. This standardises judicial stationery across the courts and provides cost benefits through a central ordering system. Internal communication Work was undertaken on numerous internal communication activities including the collective agreement, the restructure of client services, the CEO’s roadshow to all registries as part of the integration of the administrations, environmental management and the Parramatta memorial function. External communication and marketing Communication and marketing plans were developed for the Commonwealth Courts Portal, the biennial fee increase and environmental management. External collaboration National communication worked with numerous external organisations on shared products including: editing, design and printing of two Indonesian reports in English and Bahasa Indonesian (AusAID) Your rights following CSA decisions (Child Support Agency) Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Law and Justice Services in the ACT (ACT Department of Justice and Community Safety) Parent factsheets for a CSA pre-teen product (Child Support Agency) The parent’s guide to child support (Child Support Agency), and information about the courts’ Integrated Client Service Delivery Program was prepared for the Living is for Everyone (LiFE) website (www.livingisforeveryone.com.au). Security The Marshals Office provides a wide range of security services to both the Family Court and Federal Magistrates Court. They interact as necessary with other Commonwealth jurisdictions, police and security contractors to ensure the effective operation of our security guarding, electronic security, law enforcement and judicial security needs. The Marshals Office oversights security alarm maintenance and monitors an average of 100 judicial residential alarms and 50 registry alarms per month. New deputy marshal Jim Browne was appointed to the position of Deputy Marshal of the Family Court and Federal Magistrates Court in April 2010. Jim brings extensive experience in policy, security, law enforcement and operational areas to the role, having worked in executive positions within the border protection and intelligence arenas. Access control project Following years of effort, work on our complex national access control project is nearing completion. The national system facilitating the access control needs of the Family Court and Federal Magistrates Court in all our leased premises is also used by other federal jurisdictions such as the Federal Court, High Court and Family Court of Western Australia in all Commonwealth Law Court buildings. The Marshals Office continues to play a key role in coordinating these highly complex arrangements. The system caters for millions of controlled access events per year. Commonwealth protective security The Marshals Office works to ensure compliance with detailed federal protective security policy. In August 2010 an external security expert was commissioned to conduct a comprehensive security risk assessment of all Commonwealth Law Court and leased premises locations. Deputy Marshal Jim Browne also developed the Court’s overarching security plan. Civil enforcement warrants Greg Thomas, Adelaide Registry Manager has been appointed Deputy Marshal specifically for the purpose of assisting the Marshal discharge his responsibilities in relation to the execution of a significant number of civil enforcement warrants. Court security working group Court security arrangements help create the conditions in which the courts can operate in the public interest. They protect the judges and staff of the courts, as well as litigants, witnesses and members of the public. As their purpose is to protect courts operating under Chapter III of the Constitution exercising the judicial power of the Commonwealth, these arrangements are a critical precondition for the effective administration of justice. The foundation of security arrangements now is in the common law and the Public Order (Protection of Persons and Property) Act 1971. These have given rise to some uncertainty as well as to practical difficulty and inconvenience. Since 2005, the courts have worked with the Executive Government, represented by the Attorney General’s Department, to develop proposals for a new legislative framework to ground better the practical security arrangements required. Much work has been done and a set of practical proposals have been developed. This work continues to be pressed through the Court Security Working Group, a group comprising the executive as well as courts and tribunals. Information, Communication and Technology Services Information, Communication and Technology Services (ICTS) works closely with members of the Court to promote efficient design and operation of the courts’ information management processes and associated technologies. New records authority for the Court The Family Court became the first federal court to gain a new records authority (RA) at a signing ceremony in Canberra on 4 August. The RA was signed by the National Archives of Australia (NAA) Director-General, Ross Gibbs and the Court’s CEO, Richard Foster. The signing marked the culmination of several years of development as a joint project with NAA. The new Records Authority (2008/00614707) replaces the Court’s former Records Disposal Authority 1336 issued in 1998. This project was undertaken to ensure the Court has proper record keeping arrangements in place and that those arrangements meet the best practice standards set by NAA. The RA details information about the retention periods, destruction, or transfer to the NAA, of records which are unique to the Court. A supplementary RA is being developed to cover records which are converted to electronic form. This will help the Court manage any records affected by the expansion of its eFiling services into the future. Information and knowledge analysis project The information and knowledge analysis project is a court-wide study of information and knowledge use, accessibility and management covering people, processes and technology. Over six months, the Knowledge and Information Services and Systems team conducted 96 interviews (interview length ranged from 75–210 minutes) and held three workshops with staff in Canberra, Melbourne and Sydney. Initial information architecture documents are being developed and a final report is being prepared which will determine: how knowledge and information currently flows within the Court whether staff have the information they need ‘at their fingertips’ whether the knowledge that resides within the Court’s people and systems could be better shared any gaps or duplication of information, and what improvements can be made to the management of information to ensure its quality and availability. Records management There has been a substantial amount of work achieved in the records management area over 2009–10: Chief Executive Instructions for both courts on record keeping were developed and endorsed by the CEO the Family Court records management policy and framework was revised and approved by CMAG the Federal Magistrates Court records management policy was redrafted Objective EDRMS was upgraded, integrating the system with Lotus Notes, making it easier for staff to manage their documents and correspondence the HR filing system was revised with new electronic file measures implemented the records management e-learning module was revised and relaunched as part of information awareness week the Family Court became the first federal court to have their new RA endorsed by the NAA. An additional RA is currently being developed to deal with supplementary material relating to court business, and n advice was provided to family consultants about the formulation of guidelines for the ‘storage, release and disposal of child dispute records’ in conjunction with the RA. Information awareness week The inaugural information awareness week was held from 24–30 May 2010. The week was highly successful with significant levels of engagement and positive feedback from employees at all levels. The week was themed around the following topics: data quality records awareness information access information security, and records sentencing and disposal. Each day was supported by individual intranet page content which highlighted news articles, legislation and quotes relevant to the themes of the day. Other competitions and initiatives were held which increased staff engagement and participation and intranet statistics supported the project’s success. The week also profiled five court employees and highlighted the role that information plays in their working days. These employees were Rubina Lockley (NEC), Wayne Sharp (Business Systems Development Officer), Melissa Townsend (Collector of Public Monies), Michelle Hamilton (Client Service Officer) and Johanna Muldoon (Deputy Associate). Intranet Ongoing development and improvement to existing content remained a focus in 2009–10. Other areas of work on the intranet over this period included: development of a roles and responsibilities policy document development of a content ownership matrix advice provided on content redevelopment for the Child Dispute Services and Human Resources areas of the intranet development of a marketing banner for courts events and promotions, and research into social software and Wiki. Data quality A data quality framework was developed for the Family Law Courts. Considerable work has been undertaken to review our governance approach to data management and data quality. A high level data management framework and specific plans have been drafted including statements of principles, goals, roles and responsibilities. These documents provide the foundation for a range of practical actions which involve all staff. As part of the governance framework, a data quality board has been established with a strategic view of data and information quality initiatives. Its membership is: Steve Agnew, Acting Deputy CEO, Federal Magistrates Court Stephen Andrew, Acting Executive Director Client Services and Executive Director Information, Communication and Technology Services Phil Hocking, Business Development Manager Paul Webster, Acting Manager Information Management Brigid Costello, Manager Knowledge and Information Systems and Services An information quality plan was developed and a working group was established to monitor and resolve information quality issues within the courts. This group is looking at all the issues that impact information quality including findability, format, content, relevance and timeliness. A Casetrack data quality working party has been established and practical initiatives are under way including a review of the current housekeeping reports, reviewing data quality targets and performance measures, prioritising action to address identified data quality issues, reviewing the Casetrack business rules to ensure they support the entry of quality data, considering the implementation of validations for certain data, and the establishment of a data quality email address for staff to log issues and make suggestions (firstname.lastname@example.org). The Client Service Senior Managers Group has identified data quality as a strategic priority and has a central responsibility for maintaining this focus. An intranet page has also been developed about data quality. PABX replacement Work continued during the year on planning for a major upgrade to the courts’ PABX phone system. At 30 June 2010, it was expected that a new system would be in place by October 2010, providing all judicial officers and staff with updated voice technology. It will produce significant savings to ongoing telecommunications costs by: linking all sites over the courts’ network, including a national numbering plan. This will reduce call costs as internal voice traffic will travel over the courts’ network, and implementing unified communications via Lotus Notes and Sametime applications, which will reduce call conferencing costs and integrate telephone and desktop functionality. Courtroom technology Over the past 18 months, the Court has been upgrading the audio and visual capability of courtrooms in eight locations. The Family Court and Federal Magistrates Court jointly decided the priorities for upgrade, with the courtrooms selected used by judges or federal magistrates. The modernised equipment offers significant improvements through an integrated system with a touch panel that controls and manages the technology. It is reliable, consistent and simple to use. The on-site upgrade was delivered in two stages during 2009–10: In Stage 1, four courtrooms in the regional registries of Hobart, Cairns, Darwin and Dandenong were upgraded. Work was completed in December 2009. In Stage 2, twelve courtrooms in the Brisbane, Sydney, Parramatta and Melbourne registries were upgraded. Work was completed in June 2010. Training was delivered to staff and judicial officers concurrent with both stages. At 30 June 2010, the project implementation review was being finalised. Transcription services In July 2009, Auscript became the single provider of services to the Family Law Courts. It then built upon the state-of-the-art digital audio recording platform implemented in the Family Law Courts during 2009–10, which enabled Auscript to monitor hearings from a centralised location, entirely removed from the courtroom. Associates and court staff were provided with access to Auscript’s online CourtChat service, which gives users live access to the Auscript client services team. The technology update has already proven its value, for example, by improved quality of teleconferencing and greater access to audio of hearings via the AuscriptOnline hearing review portal. Both changes have been welcomed by the judiciary and court staff. During 2009–10, Auscript produced: 12 901 individual hearing recordings, capturing 44 445 hours of audio, and 6069 transcripts of hearings and judgments. These resulted in a total production of 544 687 folios for the year—most of which were funded by users of the courts. Independent review of the Australian Government’s use of ICT During 2009–10, the Court undertook significant reporting to the Department of Finance and Deregulation as recommendations of the ‘Review of the Australian Government’s use of Information and Communication Technology’ (ICT) by Sir Peter Gershon were implemented. In October 2009, the Court submitted the ICT review benchmarking report. It covered all ICT operating and capital expenditure for the 2008–09 financial year and included some quantitative measures about capacity and quantities of ICT equipment. The Gershon review led to the Court’s 2009–10 appropriation being reduced by 2.5 per cent of ICT business as usual (BAU) costs as calculated for the 2007–08 financial year. Various efficiency initiatives were undertaken to maintain ICT services with a reduced budget. This included reducing the number of ICT contractors. This is consistent with government requirements, which are to reduce ICT contractors by 10 per cent in 2009, 25 per cent in 2010 and 50 per cent in 2011. By 30 June 2010, the Court had achieved the first year’s target reduction. In response to the pursuit of whole-of-government arrangements for various ICT goods and services the Court provided feedback and information during the year to the Department of Financial and Deregulation on areas including: data centre use and requirements desktop common operating environment and PC and notebook requirements implementation of a common ICT chart of accounts information about custom and bespoke applications development and details of all ICT software and applications used in the Court ICT skills survey internet gateway and major office machine requirements, and status of green ICT initiatives. The Australian Government Information Management Office (AGIMO) is managing a whole-of-government transition from IPv4 to IPv6. The Court is following the schedule of milestones. In the second quarter of 2009–10 the Department of Finance and Deregulation requested that the Court commence an implantation of the Portfolio, Program and Project Management Maturity Model (P3M3). A certified external consultant was engaged to assess the Court maturity level and develop a business improvement plan to raise the Court’s maturity level in line with the time frame suggested. By 30 June 2010, the assessment had been completed and a draft business improvement plan submitted for evaluation. Publication of judgments Staff of the judgments publication office work closely with judges and associates to ensure consistency in the presentation of the Court’s judgments. The Court’s style guide and anonymisation guide are used along with a judgement template to ensure consistency. The judgments publication officers are responsible for the anonymisation of First Instance judgments prior to their uploading to the web and for the distribution of First Instance and Full Court judgments to publishers and AustLII. During 2009–10 the judgments publication office published 250 Full Court judgments and 1300 First Instance judgments on the Court’s website and AustLII. Judgments induction/training and refreshers have been provided at most registries during the year, and a paper about the publication of Family Court judgments was delivered to the Australian Law Librarians Association conference in September 2009. The office continues to work with closely with AustLII to add value to the Court’s databases on that website, and the Family Court is a partner in the AustLII LawCite project. The judgments publication office liaises with other Australian courts to maintain a knowledge sharing network. Casetrack upgrades During 2009–10, the Family Court’s electronic case management computer system (Casetrack) was refined and developed in line with changes to the Court’s business processes. Casetrack also underpins the Commonwealth Courts Portal and eFiling systems and supporting these has resulted in an ongoing steadily increasing volume of development to provide the appropriate web services and to adapt Casetrack to web-oriented methods of access to the Court’s case-tracking data. Casetrack developments are implemented via scheduled software releases, eight during the last year incorporating 315 individual job requests. Of these requests, 105 were directly related to the CCP and eFiling systems. Some of the larger developments undertaken included improved functionality for docket management and trial recording with the new Reserved Matters List, Reasons for Listing and Multi-Day Listings (formerly Contiguous Listings). Significant development effort was also required to accommodate the impending new fees structures supporting substituted fees and extended waivers/exemptions functionality. Work is also underway to enhance the order history/summary screen to provide better case summary information in the one place rather than needing to traverse a number of areas in Casetrack. Jurisdictional-specific development is ongoing to support the Federal Court’s use of Casetrack, including the web services for their eLodgment system and to incorporate new Federal Court business process functionality. Disaster recovery plan The Information and Communication Technology (ICT) division reviewed the disaster recovery plan that covers the provision of support for critical services in the event of a possible disaster. The plan ensures that the courts have a duplicate ICT infrastructure located offsite for services including Casetrack, Finance 1 and Objective. In the event of a disaster, processing would be transferred to the disaster recovery data centre. Property The Property unit is responsible for the delivery of the courts’ national property and accommodation initiatives, the management of outsourced property services contracts, the project management of building fit-outs and alterations and the management of the courts sustainability initiatives. The Family Court is located in shared Commonwealth-owned facilities in Adelaide, Brisbane, Canberra, Hobart, Melbourne, Parramatta and Sydney. It occupies privately leased facilities in Albury, Alice Springs, Cairns, Coffs Harbour, Dandenong, Darwin, Dubbo, Launceston, Lismore, Newcastle, Townsville and Wollongong, and shares the state court facility in Rockhampton. The most significant property-related activities at various court locations in 2009–10 are detailed as follows. Sydney Following an accommodation review of the Sydney registry, a refurbishment of Levels 8 and 9 was completed. Extra chambers were added to Level 9 for additional and visiting judiciary and a hearing room and conference rooms were added on level 8 for use by registrars. This has helped to improve the speed with which matters such as divorces can be heard by registrars in Sydney. This project was jointly funded by the Federal Magistrates Court. Dandenong Planning was undertaken during the year for the upgrade of the childminding and child observation room facilities within the Dandenong registry. Currently, the facilities are limited and this project aims to upgrade the children’s observation room to a more useable space. This will enable staff to perform their duties more effectively giving a better outcome for the courts’ clients. Functionality of facilities within the registry will be improved by having separate areas for: childminding an adolescent breakout space children’s toilets, and infant sleeping. The works are scheduled for January 2011 in-line with the registries workload. Newcastle The Newcastle registry was partly refurbished in 2009–10. The works included a general office upgrade and an additional courtroom. The registry now has four courtrooms for five judicial officers. The project has provided both improved facilities and improved safety for staff and clients. Brisbane During 2009–10, planning and consultation occurred on the intended co-location of judicial officers from the Family Court and the Federal Magistrates Court on level 9 at the Brisbane Commonwealth Law Courts building. This followed a review of accommodation in 2009 and will provide three extra judicial chambers, a new common room and an upgraded conference facility. Three areas on the floor are to be altered. Construction should be completed by December 2011. Cairns During 2009–10 courtroom 1 was refurbished. The budget was capped at $35 000 and the work included new timber veneer, recarpeting, replacement of the fabric wall covering with painted plaster board and new blinds. Launceston During 2009–10 there were ongoing issues with the lift in the building which had a significant impact on the Court’s functionality, with litigants, practitioners and the judiciary having to use the stairs. Whilst the lift issue was rectified, the issue highlighted the age and deteriorating services within the building. The current lease expiry is July 2013, however it is recommended that a market test be conducted to ascertain what options there is in Launceston for the courts. Environmental management The Court continued to seek to minimise the impact of its activities on the environment during the year by: participating nationally in Earth Hour to contribute to energy savings installing energy efficient lighting, including automated lighting controls, in all refurbishments engaging an environmental manager to specifically review and manage the environmental performance of the Court developing an environmental policy, signed by the CEO and available for all staff via the intranet reviewing request for tender documents for relevant new contracts to ensure environmental considerations are included where feasible regularly testing cooling towers and water features in court buildings, in accordance with statutory requirements rolling out a national program of server virtualisation so that fewer servers are required providing energy consumption data to the Australian Greenhouse Office as part of whole-of-government energy reporting conducting a national review of sites to benchmark availability of existing environmental practices such as recycling, energy conservation and water conservation piloting a level 2 energy audit at the Darwin registry, with the aim of rolling out more energy audits in 2010–11 at both Commonwealth courts and regional registries, and commencing work on a comprehensive environmental management statement. New property manager Akasha Atkinson joined the Court on 27 July 2009 as the new national property manager, based at the NSO in Canberra. Akasha has over 15 years experience in both the private and public sector having previously been employed as: Director, Property, Accommodation and Environmental Services, Department of Human Services Director, Property and Accommodation Services, Child Support Agency, and Property Manager, United Group Services. Finance and systems Finance and systems is responsible for accounts processing, including travel entitlements; administrative support for National Support Office (NSO), including phone and mail communications; salary packaging services; asset reporting and control systems; cash management; external reporting services, including the annual financial statements; management of the Court’s taxation obligations; and support for Finance 1, the Court’s financial management information system. Financial management During 2009–10 the Finance and Systems team continued to focus on improving service delivery and meeting stakeholder expectations. The major deliverables included: the successful implementation of direct debit functionality in the Court’s financial management information system to enable legal firms to pay any court fees through this functionality. This required an upgrade to Finance 1 recognition by the ANAO of high quality systems and controls that enabled the generation of two sets of financial statements with no interim or final audit findings revisions to the chief executive instructions, delegations and various manuals to ensure compliance with the Financial Management Act and Regulations 1997, and establishment of a taxation compliance team which has resulted in a significant reduction in processing time and external review of both courts taxation returns. Accounts payable On 13 January 2010 the Minister for Small Business, Independent Contractors and the Service Economy, the Honourable Craig Emerson MP, issued a press release ranking 40 material FMA agencies in terms of number of invoices paid within 30 days for the 2008–09 financial year. The Family Court was ranked third achieving 99.3 per cent of invoices paid on time. Asset management The Court engaged licenced valuers in October 2009 to assist with the identification, categorisation and condition assessment of all leasehold assets held in the various court locations for both the Federal Magistrates Court and Family Court which required a revaluation of both courts’ infrastructure plant and equipment. This project, which ran for nine months, resulted in accurate and reliable asset information that will enable both courts to meet the capital planning requirements promulgated by the Department of Finance and Deregulation. Budgets and business improvements Budgets and business improvements manages internal budgeting, external budgeting, maintenance of the Court’s project management framework, project budgets, and project reporting and the provision of reporting, analysis and advice to executive and managers. The Court met its key external budgeting updates including the completion of the 2009–10 Portfolio Additional Estimates Statements and 2010–11 Portfolio Budget Statements. During the year the Court underwent three internal budget reviews: first quarter, mid year, and third quarter to assist in managing the Court’s financial position. The Court has completed its budgeting process for 2010–11, updating the financial management system accordingly. The Court continued to maintain its robust reporting regime providing monthly financial reports to the Court’s managers within five working days from the end of the month. A court-wide finance report is also provided to the Court Management Group (now known as the Management Advisory Group) on a monthly basis. During 2009–10 budgeting and reporting support was also provided to the Federal Magistrates Court in the form of maintaining its external budget updates (including the 2009–10 Portfolio Additional Estimates Statements and 2010–11 Portfolio Budget Statements), maintaining its internal budget (including the 2009–10 Mid Year Budget Review and completion of the 2010–11 Budget), and implementing a robust monthly financial reporting regime for the Federal Magistrates Court. Procurement and risk management Procurement and risk management is responsible for providing advice and assistance to Court staff on procurement and contract management activities, risk management, fraud control and prevention and business continuity; the management of non-standard, high risk procurement over $80 000; and maintaining the Court’s risk control and compliance framework. Internal audit The Court has, as part of its corporate governance arrangements, appropriate mechanisms to manage general business risk as well as fraud risk. The Court’s internal audit services were provided by Oakton Services Pty Ltd and monitored by the Audit and Risk Committee. The 2009–10 internal audit plan was developed taking into account the risk drivers in the Risk Management Plan and after discussion with the Audit and Risk Committee and senior management. Internal audits conducted during the year included: human resource payroll compliance and quality assurance processes human resource management performance (benchmarking diagnostics) collection of revenues and the recording of these revenues in Casetrack management of the executive vehicle scheme vehicles/fleet management, and the review and update of the Court’s strategic risk management plan and fraud control plan. The Court’s Audit and Risk Committee monitored the implementation of individual audit report recommendations generated by the above audits through quarterly status reports. Fraud prevention and control The Court’s fraud control plan, was reviewed and updated during the last quarter of 2009–10. A new fraud control plan has been developed and approved by the CEO. This plan complies with the Commonwealth Fraud Control Guidelines 2002. There were no instances or allegations of fraud against the Court reported for 2009–10. Risk management The Court promotes a culture that supports the identification, analysis, assessment, treatment, monitoring and review of all strategic, operational, compliance and financial risks. This is supported by the Court’s risk control and compliance framework—a risk management approach grounded in the Australian/ New Zealand Risk Management Standard (AS/NZS IS0 31000: 2009). During 2009–10, the Court continued to participate in the annual Comcover benchmarking survey, which measures risk and assesses the extent of cultural change within agencies. The Court’s overall result continued to improve, reflecting the implementation of the Court’s risk control and compliance framework. Work commenced on developing a single business continuity plan for the various jurisdictions located in Commonwealth Law Court (CLC) buildings. The Brisbane CLC was identified as a test site for this activity. The Court is working in collaboration with members of the National Law Courts Building Management Committee on this project. At 30 June 2010, it was expected that a draft plan would be finalised in early 2010–11. Subject to assessment testing for suitability, it was anticipated that the single business continuity plan could be extended to other Commonwealth Law Courts early in 2011. As a result of a risk management review undertaken during 2009–10, the Court committed to raising awareness of risk management with all staff. A risk awareness training package was designed for this purpose, including raising awareness of the benefits of incorporating risk assessments into business planning. Training with the package was completed during 2009–10. The Court continuously monitors its strategic risk management plan to take into consideration new or emerging risks that may impact the achievement of the Court’s strategic objectives. The plan identifies areas of risk for the Court and the strategies required effectively managing and mitigating those risks. At 30 June, the Court was well-advanced on preparing an updated strategic risk management plan for the period 2010–12. Major procurement outcomes and activities Provision of interpreting services In September 2009 the Court undertook a request for tender process for the provision of interpreting services. While the Court had not undertaken this process for some time, it was established that different practices and suppliers were being used across all jurisdictions. The results of this process will formalise a standardised process across all jurisdictions, a common supplier base for providing these services while providing the added protection through contractual arrangements. Provision of PABX services In November 2009, the Court, along with a number of other participating jurisdictions, entered into an agreement with VoIP Pty Ltd for the provision of voice telecommunications switching and related services. This activity has seen the roll-out of a range of new telecommunications technology. Further telecommunications, including managed end services and managed maintenance services to support these products, will be rolled out during the 2010–11 financial year. The Family Court acted as the lead agency for all jurisdictions for this activity. Contract management training In June 2010 the Procurement and Risk Management section coordinated training for key managers responsible for procurement activities within the Court. This training was well attended and covered all aspects from legislative, policy and procedural requirements. International cooperation 5th World Congress on Family Law and Children’s Rights In August 2009 Colin Campbell (Registrar) and Deborah Fry (Regional Coordinator Child Dispute Services) attended the 5th World Congress on Family Law and Children’s Rights in Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada. The world congress, attended by delegates from over 40 countries, is a forum for discussing the legal rights of children in a variety of contexts. Both Colin and Deborah presented papers at the Congress titled The Critical Role of Law in the Child-Focused Perspective (Colin Campbell) Children’s Voices in Hague Convention International Child Abduction Matters—An Australian Experience (Deborah Fry). Both Colin and Deborah enjoyed the opportunity to meet and interact with fellow practitioners from all over the world and are congratulated for their involvement in this international event. Indonesia-Australia partnership Indonesia’s first access and equity study was conducted as a collaborative research project led by the Supreme Court of Indonesia with assistance from the Family Court and funded by the Australian Government through the Indonesia Australia Legal Development Facility (IALDF). Key findings of the study were that there is a high satisfaction rate amongst court clients of both the General and Religious Courts, with 70 per cent of clients saying they would return to the Court in future if they had similar legal issues. A cycle of non-legal marriage and divorce exists for many PEKKA1 female heads of household living below the Indonesian poverty line. The failure to obtain legal documentation in relation to marriage and divorce is associated with 56 per cent of children from these marriages not obtaining birth certificates. A central principle of justice is that it be universally accessible. Unfortunately the poorest sections of Indonesian society face significant barriers in bringing family law cases to the courts. Nine out of 10 female heads of household living under the Indonesian poverty line surveyed were unable to access the courts for their divorce cases. The main barriers are financial and relate to court fees and transportation costs to travel to the Court. Eighty-eight per cent of PEKKA members surveyed, living under or close to the Indonesian poverty line, would be more motivated to obtain a legal divorce if court fees were waived. High transportation costs are a barrier to accessing the Court especially for the rural poor who live a greater distance from the courts. Over-estimation of the down-payment made to courts for divorce cases relative to the actual cost of the case is a disincentive to justice seekers bringing their cases to court, particularly the poor. Reimbursement of the down-payment made to courts is important for all clients, but particularly for the poor. Since the access and equity study was implemented, the Supreme Court of Indonesia has introduced the following reforms that increase access to the courts, particularly in the family law cases referred to in the study: Across the 343 religious courts in Indonesia (where 98 per cent of all divorce cases are heard), the Supreme Court has increased funding to allow more circuit courts in remote locations to occur. This has had a significant impact: a four-fold increase in the number of people living in remote areas of Indonesia who have been able to access the religious courts over the last two years. Similarly, the Supreme Court of the Republic of Indonesia has increased funding to all courts to allow for the court fee to be waived where the party in a family law matter is economically disadvantaged. This has also had a significant impact: a ten-fold increase in the number of poor people able to access the religious courts in family law matters, the majority of these being women. Further funding increases for courts across Indonesia (totalling approximately AUD$40 million) have been approved for the next five years through Presidential Regulation Number 5 of 2010, concerning the National Medium Term Development Plan (RPJMN) 2010–14. This budget commitment from the Indonesian Government through the Supreme Court of Indonesia will support the further expansion of access to the Indonesian courts for the poor, including court fee waivers, circuit courts and legal aid. In this way, the Supreme Court is supporting the National Strategy on Access to Justice launched in October 2009. 1 PEKKA is the Program for Women Headed Households in Indonesia. International visitors During 2009–10, the Court hosted visits from international delegations as follows: Fiji February 2010: Ms Salesia Racaca, Fijian Judicial Department, visited the Canberra registry to look at the human resource and client service practices of the Court. India January–February 2010: as part of the India–Australia Judicial Program, funded by AusAID and managed by the Federal Court of Australia, the Family Court participated in a two-phase project with the Supreme Court, High Courts, Local Courts and National Judicial Academy of India. The objective of the program is to promote efficiency in the management of cases and will focus on the judiciary’s philosophical approach to case management, as well as procedural reforms including the use of technology. In the first phase, a delegation of 13 judges from India led by Chief Justice Balakrishnan visited the Federal Court and Family Court in Sydney. Discussions focussed on the role of courts in protecting rights and promoting access to justice particularly for those vulnerable individuals and groups within criminal and family law. The second phase involved a delegation led by Justice Bennett (Federal Court of Australia) and supported by Justice Lander and Justice Greenwood (Federal Court), Justice Fowler (Family Court), Chief Judge Blanch (Sydney District Court), and Professor Stone, Director for Comparative Constitutional Studies, Melbourne University visiting various courts in Delhi, Gujarat, Kerala, and Kolkata and the National Judicial Academy in Bhopal. They observed proceedings and hosted discussions about the protection of rights and access to justice. Japan January 2010: a Japanese delegation visited the Sydney registry. It comprised Judge Hashiguchi Yoshinori, Kagoshima District Court of Japan (currently a visiting scholar at Sydney University Law School); Judge Sakuta Hiroyuki, acting Staff Attorney of Family Bureau, General Secretariat of Supreme Court of Japan; Mr Fujino Akihiro, Chief of Project Section, 1st Division, Family Bureau, General Secretariat of Supreme Court of Japan; and Ms Ayako Hara, Family Court Probation Officer General Secretariat of Supreme Court of Japan. Discussions focused on the role of independent children’s lawyers in family law matters, the less adversarial trial, the conduct of family law proceedings in Australia and the role of family consultants. Korea December 2009: a delegation from the Tongyeong Branch Court, Korea visited the Sydney registry. The focus was on client service initiatives including courtroom design, information technology and eFiling, services in relation to clients with concerns for their safety or family violence and the role of duty solicitors in a court facility. The delegation also observed a less adversarial trial and had discussions with Child Dispute Services to gain a better understanding of the Court’s Child Responsive Program. Singapore November 2009: Principal District Judge Foo Tuat Yien from the Subordinate Courts of Singapore visited the Sydney registry to view and discuss the less adversarial trial. Sweden September 2009: nine members of the Committee on Civil Affairs (led by Deputy Chair, Ms Inger René) of the Riksdag (Parliament of Sweden) and government officials visited the Sydney registry. The visit, organised by the Embassy of Sweden, focussed on matters concerning civil and family law. The delegation received an overview of family law in Australia, the less adversarial trial, child custody arrangements, and the child responsive model, as well as briefings about pre-filing mediation and arbitration. United States of America July 2009: a delegation from the University of Widener PA (chaired by Professor Alicia Kelly and organised by Maxine Ever from the University of Technology Sydney) visited the Sydney registry to observe the process of Australian courts and how they resolve contested children’s matters and property matters. The delegation also looked at the child responsive model and the process of the less adversarial trial.
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