May 2019 to May 2021

Copyright

© Commonwealth of Australia 2019

The Federal Circuit Court of Australia provides all material (unless otherwise noted and with the exception of the Coat of Arms) with Creative Commons (CC) Attribution-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported licensing. Material may be distributed, as long as it remains unchanged and the Federal Circuit Court of Australia is credited as the creator. More information can be found at: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nd/3.0/

Contact details

Judge Matthew Myers AM | associate.judgemyers@federalcircuitcourt.gov.au

Judge Josephine Willis AM | associate.judgewillis@federalcircuitcourt.gov.au

Acknowledgement of Country and Traditional Owners

The Federal Circuit Court of Australia shows respect and acknowledges the Traditional Owners and Custodians of this land. We pay our respects to their Elders both past and present.

Artwork

Life's Connection. An artwork by Jedess Hudson

Life’s Connection

This painting represents our people from the Reef, Rainforest and Savannah region. The lines of these colours show the vibrant paths they take as they travel across the land connecting us to one another in this area.

Circles are the meaning of life, protection and bond that are continually constant. This reflects our strong support network within our family and friends. The symbols around the centre depict males and females coming together into a yarning circle – a place of communication and hope. This is also evident in our aspirations for our community, relationships and dreams.

The circles surround different aspects of the painting and reinforce love and support. The dots and travelling lines represent families as they flow and interconnect along their individual paths, finding their way. They also show the people who have crossed their lives – past, present and future.

To be inspired by others success and determination in all aspects of their lives. Be the one that helps when you see a need. True reconciliation is acceptance of all people’s differences and encouragement of personal journeys, this brings fulfilment to oneself and to others.

All qualities that we hope to receive and give in all aspects of our life’s journeys.

Yundu Mai Jinna la galing
(Happy journeys and safe travels)

Photo of Jedess Hudson, the artist of the artwork. Jedess has long brown hair and is wearing a black dress. She is sitting outdoors on the grass

About the artist

Jedess Hudson

Jedess Hudson is a descendent from the Ewamian and Western Yalanji clans of Far North Queensland. As an emerging artist, she creates and explores traditional stories with a contemporary perspective. Her Aboriginality is a continuous source of inspiration, as she draws deeply on this throughout her creative journey. Her heritage has taught her to analyse and appreciate the surroundings she finds herself in, especially on country. Nature, wildlife and bush tucker are all aspects that are incorporated into her artwork.

Justice / RAP Committee

Image of Dennis Remedio, Indigenous Liaison Officer; Judge Josephine Willis AM; Ricky Welsh, Community Member of the Access to Justice/ RAP Committee; and Chief Justice Alstergren

Dennis Remedio, Indigenous Liaison Officer; Judge Josephine Willis AM; Ricky Welsh, Community Member of the Access to Justice/ RAP Committee; and Chief Justice Alstergren.

Foreword

The Federal Circuit Court of Australia (FCC) acknowledges Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples as First Nations peoples and the Traditional Owners of this land.

This Reconciliation Action Plan 2019–2021 reflects the FCC’s continuing commitment to supporting access to justice for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.

Photo of Chief Judge Alstergren

The FCC was the first court in Australia to enter into a Reconciliation Action Plan (RAP), and I am immensely proud to be the Chief Judge of this court. The Court’s path to reconciliation continues through the renewal of the RAP and through the dedication of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Access to Justice/RAP Committee.

The achievements of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Access to Justice/RAP Committee have resulted in increased numbers of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples engaging with the Court, where their views are respected and taken into account as part of an ongoing dialogue.

It is imperative that the Court and its staff continue to develop cultural competency and an understanding of the needs of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. This will ensure that our approach to providing various services, and more broadly, providing equal access to justice, is appropriate and informed.

This RAP provides a platform to introduce practical measures to promote reconciliation, and addresses some of the barriers faced by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples in interacting with the Court. It also prioritises establishing relationships with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities and community leaders, agencies servicing Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, legal services and other stakeholders, in order to assist Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples to access the Court.

I commend all involved for their hard work and commitment to the goals of the first RAP, and it is with great pleasure that I present the FCC’s RAP for 2019 to 2021.

[Signed in hard copy]

The Honourable Justice Alstergren
Chief Justice, Family Court of Australia
Chief Judge, Federal Circuit Court of Australia

Our vision for reconciliation

The FCC’s vision for reconciliation is for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples to enjoy access to justice through engagement with a judicial system that is attuned to their needs, maintains a connection and collaborates with the community to consider and appreciate broader perspectives. By doing so, the FCC seeks to enable Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander litigants to fully participate in proceedings and create an equitable justice system for Australia’s First Peoples.

Providing access to justice for all Australians

The FCC is a separate Federal Court established in 2000 under Chapter III of the Australian Constitution.

The Court has jurisdiction across a broad range of federal law, including family law.

The Court’s jurisdiction and workload has grown significantly over the past 19 years and it is now the largest court in the federal judicial system, responsible for over 87 per cent of all family law matters, with a higher percentage in some regions.

The Court has 15 registries, located in each state and territory capital, along with registries in Parramatta, Townsville, Dandenong, Cairns, Launceston and Newcastle.

Further work is conducted via circuit locations in Lismore, Rockhampton, Mackay, Burnie, Orange, Wagga Wagga, Albury, Armidale, Broken Hill, Coffs Harbour, Dubbo, Port Macquarie, Wauchope, Mt Gambier, Toowoomba, Ipswich, Hervey Bay, Southport, Maroochydore, Alice Springs, Geelong, Mildura, Morwell, Shepparton/Cobram, Warrnambool, Ballarat, Bendigo and Tamworth.

Background

The Court was established by the Federal Magistrates Act 1999 and jurisdiction was conferred by the Federal Magistrates (Consequential Amendments) Act 1999. The Court was originally named the Federal Magistrates Service, before being more properly titled as the Federal Magistrates Court.

In 2013, the Federal Government renamed the Court as the Federal Circuit Court of Australia, to acknowledge the role of the Court, the complexity of the work it performs and its accessibility to litigants across Australia. The term ‘Federal’ reflects the broad jurisdiction of the Court and the term ‘Circuit’ highlights the importance of the Court’s circuit work in regional areas.

The Federal Circuit Court of Australia (Consequential Amendments) Bill 2012 made amendments to Commonwealth legislation to reflect the name change and the title of the judicial officers from Federal Magistrate to Judge. The name change also acknowledged that the Court’s jurisdiction is similar to jurisdiction exercised by the state district courts, rather than at magistrate level.

The judiciary

The Honourable William Alstergren is the Chief Judge of the Federal Circuit Court of Australia. His Honour is also the Chief Justice of the Family Court of Australia

As at 30 June 2018, 69 judges held appointment to the FCC.

A full list of judges is available here.

Facts and figures

560 administrative staff provide services to the FCC.

11 staff identify as Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander employees.

Judge Matthew Myers AM was the first Aboriginal federal judicial officer in Australia.

The total applications filed in the FCC for the year ending 30 June 2018 was 95,716.

The FCC circuits to 30 locations around Australia.

90% of applications are family law and 10% are general federal law applications.

The FCC became the first court in Australia to enter into a RAP.

Family law

The Court’s family law jurisdiction includes:

  • Parenting orders: orders regarding parenting and care arrangements for children when their parents or caregivers cannot reach agreement. This includes parenting orders for kin carers who raise grandchildren or other children.
  • Financial orders:orders relating to the division of property or payment of maintenance following the breakdown of a marriage or eligible de facto relationship.
  • Divorce applications: all applications for divorce, except orders relating to nullity and validity of marriage and divorce.
  • Child support: certain applications and appeals.
  • Child maintenance:orders for child maintenance in special circumstances.
  • Parentage declarations and testing: orders declaring that a person is a parent of a child/ren or to assist in determining the parentage of a child/ren.
  • Contravention: applications alleging a breach of an order of the Court.
  • Injunctions:applications for an injunction in relation to property or children, including orders that assist with the personal protection of a party or a child or children.
  • Location and recovery:applications to obtain information, or publish information, about the whereabouts of a child or to assist with the return of a child to a parent or party, or an order for the retrieval of a child in particular circumstances.

General federal law

The Court shares general federal law jurisdiction with the Federal Court of Australia. The largest volume of the Court’s work in this area is in bankruptcy and migration. The Court hears approximately 95 per cent of all migration applications filed in the federal courts. The Court also hears a significant number of industrial law and human rights matters.

The Court’s general federal law jurisdiction covers:

  • Administrative: matters under the Administrative Decisions (Judicial Review) Act 1997 and appeals from the Administrative Appeals Tribunal.
  • Admiralty:claims such as freight claims, damage claims and seafarers’ wages.
  • Bankruptcy:all civil claims and matters under the Bankruptcy Act 1966, except those requiring jury trials.
  • Consumer: the Court has civil jurisdiction for claims under several provisions of the Competition and Consumer Act 2010 (formerly the Trade Practices Act 1974). The Court also has civil jurisdiction with respect to claims under the National Consumer Credit Protection Act 2009.
  • Human rights: federal unlawful discrimination matters under the Australian Human Rights Commissions Act 1986.
  • Industrial: concurrent jurisdiction with the FCA for matters under the Fair Work Act 2009 (and related legislation) which confers small claims jurisdiction on the Court for various matters if the compensation is not more than $20,000. The Court also has jurisdiction in relation to certain matters under the Independent Contractors Act 2006.
  • Intellectual and copyright:civil claims and matters under certain Parts of the Copyright Act 1968, such as claims for injunctions and damages for breach of copyright.
  • Trade mark/ design: the Court has certain jurisdiction under the Trade Marks Act 1995 and the Designs Act 2003.
  • Migration:most first instance judicial reviews of visa-related decisions of the Migration Review Tribunal, Refugee Review Tribunal and the Administrative Appeals Tribunal.
  • Privacy:enforcing determinations of the Privacy Commissioner and private sector adjudicators under the Privacy Act 1988.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander staff

The Court believes that ensuring employment opportunities for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples is an important part of the path to reconciliation. This also enhances the Court’s ability to engage with the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community.

At 30 June 2018, the Court had 11 staff who identify as Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander peoples. The Court seeks to improve the number of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander employees and embraces the Commonwealth Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Employment Strategy.

Who is Reconciliation Australia?

Reconciliation Australia is a national organisation promoting reconciliation between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and the broader Australian community. Reconciliation Australia’s vision is for a just, equitable and reconciled Australia. Their purpose is to inspire and enable all Australians to contribute to the reconciliation of the nation.

What is reconciliation?

There is no single strand to reconciliation and it is not an easy or straightforward process. Reconciliation is about building better relationships between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and the wider Australian community for the benefit of all Australians.

If relationships between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and other Australians are to improve, people must start to talk about the issue of reconciliation and devise innovative ways to create positive lasting change.

Reconciliation Australia cannot promote reconciliation alone and challenges all Australians to join then on a reconciliation journey.

Special mention

Ms Josephine Akee AO is a proud Torres Strait Islander woman who worked in the family law justice system for over 25 years. Her expertise and wisdom has been invaluable to family law litigation and issues throughout that time. Whilst now retired, Ms Akee is always ready to add her presence and voice to the work of the Court in implementing its commitments under its RAP.

Photo of Josephine Akee AO

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Access to Justice/RAP Committee

The Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Access to Justice/ RAP Committee has responsibility for developing and implementing the ideals set out in the Court’s RAP and to ensure continuing engagement with the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community. Judges from all around Australia sit on the committee.

In 2018, the committee comprised:

  • Judge Josephine Willis AM (Chair)
  • Judge Charlotte Kelly
  • Judge Stephen Coates
  • Judge Matthew Myers AM
  • Judge Janet Terry
  • Judge Elizabeth Boyle
  • Judge Dale Kemp
  • Judge Tony Young
  • Judge Judy Small AM
  • Judge Josh Wilson
  • Mr Ricky Welsh
  • Mr Dennis Remedio, and
  • Dr Stewart Fenwick.

Mr Welsh and Mr Remedio represent the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community. Mr Remedio is also the Court’s Indigenous Liaison Officer in Cairns.

The committee also has the assistance of a team of associates that organise and register events and distribute posters and information throughout each registry for celebratory occasions such as National Reconciliation Week (NRW) and National Aborigines and Islanders Day Observance Committee (NAIDOC) Week.

The Court also has a RAP sub-committee, consisting of Judge Willis AM (Chair), Judge Myers AM and Dr Stewart Fenwick.

The Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Access to Justice/ RAP Committee works towards improving access to justice for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, including promoting and enacting the ideals in the RAP. Members of the committee work together to:

  • develop and draft the RAP and attend RAP workshops
  • maintain an ongoing dialogue and relationship with Reconciliation Australia on a variety of issues as they arise
  • assume responsibility for receiving and responding to any RAP inquiries during the course of the RAP from inside or outside the Court, and
  • champion the ideals of the RAP.

The Court’s Reconciliation Action Plan journey

2011

The issues of reconciliation and access to justice for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples were at the forefront of former Chief Judge Pascoe’s mind since meeting with Aboriginal Elders in Dubbo in 2011. This meeting followed consultation between Judge Kemp and community members about the value of parenting circles.

2012

After much consultation with the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community around Australia, which formed the basis of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Access to Justice/ RAP Committee’s first report and recommendations, it was decided that the considerations of this committee would be embodied in a RAP to ensure this important work remained as an ongoing and active commitment of the Court.

2013

A special sitting of the Court was held to mark a name change to the Federal Circuit Court of Australia. A Welcome to Country was given and a message stick was presented to the Court by Michael West, a Gamilaroi man. During his Welcome to Country on behalf of the Eora Nation, Mr West spoke of the messages on the message stick of “one community, one mob, one planet, one humanity” and included symbols of the scales of justice, honour and truth. The message stick promoted discussion and reconciliation.

2014

In March 2014, the FCC became the first court in Australia to enter into a RAP. The RAP was launched at the National Centre for Indigenous Excellence in Redfern, by the then Commonwealth Attorney-General, the Hon Senator George Brandis QC. A smoking ceremony was held in the presence of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community leaders, including Dr Tom Calma AO from the Board of Reconciliation Australia, and co-chair of the National Congress of Australia’s First Peoples, Kirstie Parker.

2015 to 2016

  • Significant work and engagement was carried out by judges on the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Access to Justice/ RAP Committee to ensure the many and varied activities in the RAP were undertaken in registries throughout Australia.
  • In 2016, a second message stick was commissioned by an Aboriginal artist to represent the Court’s engagement with the important and sensitive issue of the rate of removal of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children. Its journey commenced on 13 February 2016 in Canberra on the eight year anniversary of former Prime Minister Rudd’s Apology to the Stolen Generation.
  • The message stick has since travelled to the United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Peoples held in New York, and has continued its journey around Australia and been presented to Aboriginal Elders at many court functions and at other events with Elders in Cairns, Redfern, Broken Hill, Wilcannia, Wollongong, Adelaide, Melbourne, Darwin, Lismore and Parramatta.

2018

The Court’s reconciliation journey continues with the further aspirations and ongoing commitment to improving access to justice for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples through developing a new RAP.

RAP achievements 2014 to 2018

  • The Court has been active in its national pursuit to build relationships with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community members, to show respect for their cultural traditions and to promote opportunities where possible within the Court for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.
  • A comprehensive Impact Measurement Statement was provided to Reconciliation Australia giving an overview of the significant progress made in achieving the goals of the Court’s first RAP.
  • The Court has formulated and adopted protocols for the recognition of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples through either appropriate Acknowledgement of Country or Welcome to Country at events or meetings.
  • Judges and staff have organised and participated in NRW celebrations in registries around Australia. Judges and staff also attended or held NAIDOC Week events. These celebrations have involved inviting various Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander representatives from recognised entities, organisations and people from various sections of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community. Judges have attended Sorry Day events and other community celebrations.
    Some events of note include:
    • Procurement relationships were established with local Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander businesses for services such as catering events.
    • Members of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Access to Justice/ RAP Committee presented at the inaugural NSW Aboriginal Family Law Conference. Providing education to the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community on how the courts work and the types of parenting orders that the FCC has jurisdiction to make, has proven to be very relevant to all members of the community.
    • An Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander mediation model was launched in the Newcastle registry to assist Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander families to resolve their parenting disputes.
    • Circuit sittings have been expanded to include locations such as Broken Hill in an attempt to offer access to justice to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander litigants in remote areas.
    • An Indigenous list commenced in the Sydney registry, later also adopted in Adelaide, Alice Springs and Darwin. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander parenting applications are listed to enable Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander support services (legal and others) to access the legal and court system. The purpose of this was to ensure that additional community agencies were on hand to assist Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander litigants, and that the Court’s processes where possible, were focused on resolution through supportive less adversarial processes in appropriate cases.
    • The Court has created opportunities for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander law students at universities and colleges around Australia. Students are given the opportunity to meet with judges and lawyers, to make connections, discuss their studies and generally provide professional encouragement and development.
    • Judges have engaged in a variety of experiences in judicial education on cultural awareness training and cultural experiences nationally and internationally.
    • Judges have established Aboriginal Family Law Roadshows, and held public forums to inform and educate the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community about parenting orders available in the FCC and issues affecting their own access to justice.
    • Judges have served on the Judicial Council on Cultural Diversity. This involvement led to the publication of a significant report – The Path to Justice, Indigenous Women’s Experience of the Court – by the Judicial Council on Cultural Diversity. Many of the recommendations had their origins in the FCC’s Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Access to Justice/ RAP Committee’s initial report.
    • Judges and others have given presentations at a range of international, national and local law conferences and forums on topics associated with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Access to Justice and parenting orders, including orders made in favour of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander kin carers looking after children through an informal agreement.
    • Members of the committee have publicly promoted the benefit of the RAP program.
    • The Chairperson of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Access to Justice/ RAP Committee will maintain a position on the Court’s National Practice Area Committee, in acknowledgment of the importance of this issue to the Court.
    • Judges have mentored and encouraged Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander law students to succeed in their studies.
    • In 2016, the Court employed an Indigenous Policy Officer to assist judges and registries to engage with community members, groups and Aboriginal controlled organisations and to develop culturally responsive practices and engagement generally.
    • In the first RAP, the Court acknowledged that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples are overrepresented in the criminal justice systems of the states and territories of Australia. They make up a disproportionate number of people held in correctional facilities and have the highest rate of child removal by child protection agencies compared to any other group within Australia. This situation is regrettably unaltered in 2018. A significant development was the appointment (in 2017) of Judge Myers AM as an Australian Law Reform Commission Commissioner to lead the inquiry into the incarceration rates of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.
    • The Court is committed to ensuring access to justice for Australia’s First Peoples. Part of the initiative of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Access to Justice/ RAP Committee has been developing and establishing an Indigenous Advisory Group of interested stakeholders within the community and a more formal Indigenous Family Law Pathways Group. In Sydney, that group is responsible for organising an Indigenous Law Conference and other community events such as roadshows. In other areas of Australia, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community groups have been formed to provide practical advice on creating networks to promote the work of the Court and the possibility of Parenting Orders for kin carers and parents fleeing violence.

The Court will focus on the following: relationships, respect, opportunities and tracking progress.

1. Relationships

The Court acknowledges the damage perpetrated by policies resulting in the forced removal of children from Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander families. It is important that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples have proper access to justice and the justice system, particularly where that justice affects the ability of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples to care for their children.

To enhance the Court’s ability to promote access to justice for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, the Court wishes to adopt real and practical measures to build strong, enduring relationships with the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community. It is important to the Court to develop an understanding, amongst Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander kin carers, that parenting orders in relation to children they may be raising as kin carers are available through the Court system. Parenting orders can provide security in relation to the living arrangements of children being raised by kin carers, stabilise contact arrangements with their parents and provide for issues covered by parental responsibility orders.

FOCUS: Provide access to justice for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples to the Federal Circuit Court of Australia.

Action

Responsibility

Timeline

Deliverable

1.1 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Access to Justice/ RAP Committee to actively monitor the RAP development and its implementation

Members of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Access to Justice/ RAP Committee

The Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Access to Justice/ RAP Committee supported by:

  • CEO and Principal Registrar
  • Executive Director, Performance, Planning and Strategy
  • Directors of Court Services
  • Policy Officer

(all deliverables)

July 2019

Ensure Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples are represented on the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Access to Justice/ RAP Committee and recruit female community representatives as a priority

May 2019

Invite community consultative members to provide cultural guidance on RAP implementation

May 2019

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Access to Justice/ RAP Committee oversees the development, endorsement and launch of the RAP

June 2019,
July 2019,
October 2019, December 2019, February 2020,
July 2020,
October 2020 and November 2020 (meetings)

Committee to meet at least four times a year including in person at each annual plenary of the Court

Commencing June 2019, no less than each two months (communicating with the committee)

Chair to maintain regular communication with committee members and their activities

June 2019

Review and update Terms of Reference for the Access to Justice/ RAP Committee

December 2019,

December 2020

Yearly review of the membership noting Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander membership is to be encouraged

1.2 Maintain the Associates’ Committee with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander membership to provide practical support in holding court and other functions and raising awareness amongst judges and staff of other celebrations occurring throughout the year

Members of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Access to Justice/ RAP Committee supported by:

  • CEO and Principal Registrar
  • Executive Director, Performance, Planning and Strategy
  • Directors of Court Services
  • Policy Officer

May 2019 and June 2019

April 2020 and June 2020

Associates Committee to meet at least twice a year

To support the objectives and deliverables of the RAP by making arrangements to fit in with court calendars

1.3 Celebrate and participate in National Reconciliation Week (NRW) by providing opportunities to build and maintain relationships between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and other Australians

Members of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Access to Justice/ RAP Committee supported by:

  • Executive Director, Performance, Planning and Strategy
  • CEO and Principal Registrar
  • Aboriginal and/ or Torres Strait Islander community member
  • Directors of Court Services
  • Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander member of the committee and Indigenous Liaison Officer with the FCC
  • Policy Officer

(all deliverables)

May 2019 and May 2020

Hold NRW celebrations in each registry

Each registry to be represented on the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander access to Justice/ RAP Committee

May 2019 and April 2020

Invite members of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community to be a part of the Court’s NRW celebrations

May 2019 and April 2020

Invite Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander law students to NRW celebrations and offer opportunities to meet judges and members of the Court and other Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander lawyers

May 2019 and May 2020

Ensure the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Access to Justice/ RAP Committee supports an external NRW event

May 2019 and May 2020

Ensure the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Access to Justice/ RAP Committee participates in an external NRW event to recognise and celebrate NRW

May 2019 and May 2020

Encourage judges and senior leaders to participate in external events to recognise and celebrate NRW

May 2019 and May 2020

Register all NRW events on Reconciliation Australia’s NRW website

May 2019 and May 2020

Download NRW material provided by Reconciliation Australia and ensure it is distributed throughout the committee and the Court

May 2019 and April 2020

Invite local Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander stakeholders, judicial and legal representatives including representatives from other courts and community groups to our NRW events

1.4 Engage and build stronger relationships with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander legal services and other community agencies servicing Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities and peoples

Members of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Access to Justice/ RAP Committee supported by:

  • CEO and Principal Registrar
  • Aboriginal and/ or Torres Strait Islander community member of the Committee
  • Policy Officer

November 2019

Develop and implement an engagement plan to work with our Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander stakeholders

November 2019

Meet with local Aboriginal and/ or Torres Strait Islander community members to develop guiding principles for future engagement

February 2020

Clarify where there are geographical opportunities to create new Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Family Law Pathway groups and/ or advisory groups

February 2020

Engage with the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community through meetings and projects conducted by judges including roadshows, conferences and presentations

May 2019

Invite legal services and allied agencies to RAP events

July 2019

Judges to speak at Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander kin carer groups, bar associations, and other events focused on access to justice for the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community

July 2019

Judges to approach the Department of Child Safety in each state to provide an opportunity to explain parenting orders under the Family Law Act for kin carers, in order to reduce children being placed in foster care

July 2019

Develop relationships with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander grandmother organisations

July 2019

August 2019

Provide opportunities for judges to make connections with universities and colleges to promote the Court’s engagement with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander law and justice studies students

December 2019

Continue to engage with Aboriginal Medical Centres and other recognised entities

1.5 Raise internal and external awareness of our RAP to promote reconciliation across the Court and legal profession

Members of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Access to Justice/ RAP Committee supported by:

  • Chief Judge
  • CEO and Principal Registrar
  • Directors of Court Services
  • Policy Officer

(all deliverables)

August 2019

Include the RAP on the FCC’s website

September 2019

Implement and review a strategy to communicate our RAP to all internal and external stakeholders

February 2020 and February 2021

Promote reconciliation through ongoing active dialogue and engagement with stakeholders through personal meetings in both city and regional areas

August 2019

Produce training material for the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community and case workers/managers from child welfare departments who work closely with members of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community

December 2019

Produce material explaining parenting and other orders available through the FCC and making reference to the Court’s RAP, that can be used at roadshows and NAIDOC Week as handouts or distributed through Aboriginal Medical Centres and other Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander organisations

October 2019

Ensure associates are provided with copies of the RAP for use by their respective judges at conference presentations

December 2019

Establish relationships with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander stakeholders in circuit locations with a view to building up an advisory network or Family Law Pathway group

October 2019 and 2020

Prepare a presentation on the achievements of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Access to Justice/ RAP Committee at the Court’s annual conference

2. Respect

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures are complex and diverse. They have the oldest living cultural history in the world, going back at least 50,000 years. The Court acknowledges that fundamental to the issue of reconciliation is the change towards a nationwide respect for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and their cultures. Respect for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples is a ‘keystone’ in ensuring the Court provides access to justice for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander families and litigants.

FOCUS: Improve awareness by developing appropriate cultural competency training for staff and the judiciary – to better enhance our delivery of judicial services to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander clients. We will endeavour to establish productive partnerships with appropriate Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander agencies and Elders. We will also work towards enhancing our appreciation of, and engagement with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultural events and activities, as a further public display of the Court’s respect for the First Peoples of Australia and our commitment to reconciliation.

Action

Responsibility

Timeline

Deliverable

2.1 Provide ongoing opportunities to judges and staff to enhance cultural learning opportunities at a local level or otherwise available to increase understanding and appreciation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures, histories and achievements

Chair of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Access to Justice/ RAP Committee supported by:

  • Committee members
  • Chief Judge
  • CEO and Principal Registrar
  • Directors of Court Services
  • Indigenous Liaison Officer and Aboriginal and/ or Torres Strait Islander community member
  • Policy Officer

(all deliverables)

June 2019

Provide opportunities for judges and other key staff members (for example CEO, HR team etc.) to participate in cultural awareness within their own registries through training provided by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander local Elders and/ or local Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander consultants

November 2019

Continue to enhance and encourage judicial training through coursework, formal education and/ or firsthand experience such as meeting with Elders within their community

August 2019

Investigate local cultural experiences and immersion opportunities for judges

August 2019

Develop and implement a cultural awareness training strategy for the Court. The strategy should define the cultural learning needs of employees in all areas of our work and consider various ways cultural learning can be provided (online, face-to-face workshops or cultural immersion)

August 2019

Invite local Traditional Owners and/or Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander consultants to engage staff in cultural awareness training

November 2019

Encourage consolidation of learning from online cultural awareness training in the Associate induction process

November 2019

Review the Court’s online cultural awareness training module and encourage all staff to complete it

November 2019

Ensure all Family Report writers (including external) undertake current cultural awareness training

November 2019

Approach Legal Aid regarding ongoing cultural awareness training for Independent Children’s Lawyers

March 2020

Promote Reconciliation Australia’s Share Our Pride online tool to all staff

2.2 Engage judges and staff in understanding Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultural protocols, including but not limited to Acknowledgement of Country and Welcome to Country to ensure there a is shared meaning

Chief Judge and CEO and Principal Registrar with the support of:

  • Aboriginal and/ or Torres Strait Islander community member
  • Indigenous Liaison Officer
  • Chair and members of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Access to Justice/ RAP Committee
  • Executive Director, Performance, Planning and Strategy
  • Directors of Court Services

(all deliverables)

June 2019

Ensure an Acknowledgment of Country statement is set out on the homepage of the FCC website

June 2019

Review and communicate a cultural protocol document for Welcome to Country and Acknowledgment of Country, including local protocols for each registry and circuit location

March 2020

Invite a Traditional Owner to the registry to explain the significance of Welcome to Country and Acknowledgment of Country

June 2019

Develop a list of key contacts for organising a Welcome to Country and maintaining respectful partnerships

June 2020

Invite a Traditional Owner to provide a Welcome to Country to at least at one significant event per year such as the Court’s Plenary Conference

June 2020

Include an Acknowledgment of Country at the commencement of important external and internal meetings

May 2019

Provide an Acknowledgment of Country at all ceremonial sittings such as retirements and the welcome ceremonies of newly appointed judges

May 2019

Encourage judges to give an Acknowledgement of Country when speaking on behalf of the Court during conference and external presentations

February 2020

Encourage judges and their staff to include an Acknowledgement of Country in their email signatures

November 2019

Investigate displaying Acknowledgment of Country plaques in all courtrooms and registries

February 2020

Create a register of names of local Elders who may be called upon to give a Welcome to Country at significant FCC events and distribute to all registries

2.3 Celebrate NAIDOC Week

The Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Access to Justice / RAP Committee supported by:

  • Aboriginal and/ or Torres Strait Islander community member
  • Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander liaison officer
  • CEO and Principal Registrar
  • Associates’ RAP Committee
  • Committee members
  • Chief Judge
  • Directors of Court Services

(all deliverables)

July 2019 and July 2020

Continue to provide opportunities for all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander staff to participate in NAIDOC Week events

May 2019 and May 2020

Seek advice on HR policies and procedures to ensure there are no barriers to staff participating in NAIDOC Week

May 2019 and May 2020

Design and develop Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community focussed brochures and educational material for use at NAIDOC Week and other celebrations

May 2019 and May 2020

Ensure NAIDOC Week resources are acquired from the NAIDOC Committee for distribution to all registries

June 2019 and June 2020

Contact our local NAIDOC Week Committee to discover and participate in our community

July 2019 and July 2020

Consult with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples to hold an internal or external NAIDOC Week event

July 2019 and July 2020

Provide an opportunity for all staff to attend a NAIDOC Week event

2.4 Embrace, acknowledge and respect Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures

Members of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Access to Justice/ RAP Committee supported by:

  • CEO and Principal Registrar
  • Directors of Court Services

(all deliverables)

May 2019

Promote the Court’s engagement in NRW week and other significant events within the broader community via Koori Mail, the Court’s intranet and Court News

October 2019

Encourage registries to continue to have Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander newspapers delivered for judges and placed in the waiting areas on a regular basis

2.5 Increase the cultural safety of the working environment and processes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples attending court

Members of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Access to Justice/ RAP Committee supported by:

  • CEO and Principal Registrar
  • Indigenous Liaison Officer
  • Aboriginal and/ or Torres Strait Islander community member
  • Policy Officer
  • Executive Director, Performance, Planning and Strategy
  • Directors of Court Services

(all deliverables)

December 2019

Invite Community Consultative members of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Access to Justice/ RAP Committee or other Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander community members to educate staff on cultural safety training in consultation with Registry Managers

December 2019

Encourage judges to acquire and display an Acknowledgment of Country plaque and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander flags in their courtrooms

December 2019

Continue to provide an Acknowledgment of Country at the commencement of an Indigenous list or an Indigenous circuit

July 2019

Encourage registrars working with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples to share best practices with other registrars doing similar work

3. Opportunities

Reconciliation between the Court and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples presents opportunities to utilise the assistance of Indigenous Liaison Officers within the Court. It is the view of the committee that such officers provide invaluable assistance to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander litigants throughout Australia and is the single most critical resource in the Court system to ensure improved access to justice for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.

The Court is well placed to assist Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples to undertake work experience. Judges have the experience necessary to mentor law students. Mentoring is a tangible way to assist future generations of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples undertaking law studies to become involved in the legal system. It is hoped that upon their graduation, such students will be in a position to bring about change within their communities and wider Australian society in terms of their ability to access justice.

FOCUS: Develop opportunities for members of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community to enhance their educational and career prospects, through offering placements and or work experience opportunities for law students and graduates and through establishing traineeships and work experience for other Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples wishing to work within the Court system or within the Australian Public Service more broadly.

Action

Responsibility

Timeline

Deliverable

3.1 Encourage each registry to investigate opportunities to improve and increase Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander employment outcomes in consultation with its corporate services

Members of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Access to Justice/ RAP Committee supported by:

  • Executive Director, Performance, Planning and Strategy
  • Directors of Court Services
  • CEO and Principal Registrar
  • Aboriginal and/ or Torres Strait Islander community member
  • Policy Officer
  • Indigenous Liaison Officer

(all deliverables)

February 2020

Work with the Court’s corporate services to develop an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Employment and retention strategy for our court, registry and support/administrative staff

December 2019

Collect information on our current Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander staff to capture baseline employment levels and inform future employment opportunities

December 2019

Engage with existing Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander staff to consult on employment strategies, including professional development

August 2019

Explore funding opportunities to enable Indigenous Liaison Officers to be engaged in registries

December 2019

Request corporate services to advertise all vacancies in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander media

December 2019

Request HR to review policies and procedures to ensure that there are no barriers to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander employees and future applicants participating in our workplace

3.2 Encourage each registry and other judges to investigate opportunities to mentor and support Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander law students

Members of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Access to Justice/ RAP Committee supported by:

  • CEO and Principal Registrar
  • Executive Director, Performance, Planning and Strategy

(all deliverables)

August 2019

Explore the opportunity to enable Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander law students to do work experience in the courtroom and/or chambers

May 2019

Broadcast information and experiences on mentoring amongst committee

May 2019

Encourage judges to conduct exit interviews with their mentees. The information gained is to be shared with other judges in order to improve the future mentees experience

June 2019

Ensure that the committee connects with local universities and colleges to explore mentoring opportunities for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander law students

May 2019

Invite Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students to functions or other meetings with judges and court staff

June 2019

Encourage Directors of Court Services to maintain contact with local universities to enable Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students to be invited to court functions and raise awareness of employment and mentoring opportunities within the Court

3.3 Continue to explore issues relating to access for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander carers of children

Members of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Access to Justice/ RAP Committee supported by:

  • CEO and Principal Registrar
  • National Case Management Judge

(all deliverables)

December 2019

Inquire as to feasibility of additional remote circuit locations to conduct court sittings and hold sittings in locations other than court buildings if circumstances suggest that this would improve access to justice for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander litigants

December 2019

Consider conducting circuits to include areas with known Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander populations such as Thursday Island, which the court does not currently travel to

September 2019

Continue pilots such as judges conducting an Indigenous list involving specialised listing practices where Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander litigants are supported by legal and other support services

December 2019

Promote the journey of the message stick throughout registries and circuits to raise awareness of the removal of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children and the possibility of orders being made under family law legislation

3.4 Continue to explore issues relating to access for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander carers of children

Members the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Access to Justice/ RAP Committee supported by:

  • CEO and Principal Registrar
  • Community Consultative Member
  • Indigenous Liaison Officer

(all deliverables)

September 2019

Ensure judges liaise with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community members and approach other organisations (grandmother groups and organisations, Relationships Australia, Anglicare, Catholic Care and organisations dealing with informal family arrangements) to explain use of FCC and family law legislation open to kin carers to seek parenting orders

September 2019

Seek additional funding for Indigenous Liaison Officer to spend dedicated time on educational activities and engagement with local Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander medical centres and other Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community groups

3.5 Encourage opportunities for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander legal services and other recognised entities to work together in partnership to increase access to justice for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander litigants

Members of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Access to Justice/ RAP Committee.

  • CEO and Principal Registrar

(all deliverables)

August 2019

Build a business case to investigate options of funding and support for the Court to host a National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Law Conference

August 2019

Support programs such as Law Yarn (based in Cairns) in which a partnership between legal and health services is established onsite at a medical centre to provide a holistic approach to the health of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples to operate on a regular basis

3.6 Investigate opportunities to incorporate Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander supplier diversity within our organisation in consultation with the Court’s corporate services

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Access to Justice/ RAP Committee members together with Registry Management

October 2019

Having regard to the Court’s limited budgetary control, the judges on the committee will do the following in respect to their own registry in regard to minor spends

October 2019

Develop at least one commercial relationship with an Aboriginal and/ or Torres Strait Islander owned business

October 2019

Develop and communicate to staff a list of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander owned businesses that can be used to procure goods and services

October 2019

Committee will request to review and update procurement policies and procedures to ensure there are no barriers for procuring goods and services from Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander businesses

October 2019

Committee will request Finance to investigate a supply nation membership

Governance, Tracking Progress and Reporting

Action

Responsibility

Timeline

Deliverable

4.1 Publicly report achievements, challenges and learnings to Reconciliation Australia

Members of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Access to Justice/ RAP Committee supported by:

  • CEO and Principal Registrar
  • Policy Officer

(all deliverables)

August 2019 and August 2020

Complete and seek internal approval to submit the RAP Impact Measurement Questionnaire to Reconciliation Australia

May 2020

Investigate participating in the RAP barometer

4.2 Publically report RAP achievements, challenges and learnings internally and externally

Members of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Access to Justice/ RAP Committee supported by:

  • CEO and Principal Registrar
  • Policy Officer

November 2020

Publically report RAP achievements, challenges and learnings internally through court newsletter or report at annual court conference

Externally via the FCC website

4.3 Review, refresh and update FCC RAP

Members of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Access to Justice/ RAP Committee supported by :

  • CEO and Principal Registrar
  • Policy Officer

(all deliverables)

October 2020

Work with Reconciliation Australia to develop a new RAP based on achievements, learnings and challenges of this RAP.

November 2020

Send draft RAP to Reconciliation Australia for review and feedback

April 2021

Submit draft RAP to Reconciliation Australia for formal endorsement