Chief Executive Officer Report by jolinmilioncherie


									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

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
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
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
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

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 (, 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
     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

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

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
    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.

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

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
     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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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
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
    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

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

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
     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,
    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.

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
Simplified Chinese
Traditional Chinese

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?

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 and or on the Family Law Courts website

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.

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.

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
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

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
      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).

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 (

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
     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
    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

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
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

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.
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.

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.

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.

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
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.

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.

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
    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
      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

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

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,
     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

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:

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.

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

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

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.

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.

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.

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.

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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