19 August 2015

Federal Circuit Court committed to servicing families in the central western district of NSW for family law disputes, despite resourcing pressures

The Federal Circuit Court of Australia (the Court) is Australia’s largest federal court and deals with the majority of all family law cases such as divorce, parenting and property applications. The Court’s jurisdiction also covers migration, workplace relations and other general federal law matters.

As part of the Court’s role to service the Australian community, Judges regularly travel to regional locations, such as Dubbo and Orange, to hear matters (referred to as ‘circuits’), usually sitting for a week at a time. This relieves some of the burden on regional litigants (and their legal representatives) to travel to major cities to have their matters dealt with. Travel time from the Dubbo region to the nearest principal registries in Parramatta and Canberra would generally take about five hours by road.

The Federal Circuit Court began circuiting to the central western district of New South Wales soon after the Court was created in 2000. Litigants are drawn from a wide area, mainly from the towns of  Lithgow, Bathurst, Orange, Mudgee, Blainey, Cowra , Parkes Forbes, Canowindra, Wellington, Dubbo, Narromine, Brewarrina, Bourke, Cobar, Warren and Coonabarabran and smaller surrounding rural communities. 

The Court sits at both Dubbo (7 weeks a year) and Orange (3 weeks a year), and is managed from its Dubbo registry.

On Wednesday 19 August 2015, the head of the Federal Circuit Court of Australia, Chief Judge Pascoe AO CVO, will be at the Dubbo registry to meet with local practitioners and to present a well-deserved staff award to long-standing employee, Mr Bruce Waddell, the local family consultant. The Judge responsible for the Dubbo circuit, Judge Dunkley will also be present.

Mr Waddell has worked at the family courts for 18 years and the Australia Day award acknowledges his dedication, professionalism and skills. His ability to strive for the best possible outcomes for children and families of the Central West are well known.

Chief Judge Pascoe said, “Circuits to rural and regional Australia are an essential part of the Court's commitment to ensuring access to justice for all Australians.

With approximately 240 to 250 new applications (for final orders) filed in Dubbo each year* the demand for the Court’s services continues to increase. The increase in applications, together with a reduction in judicial resources, has unfortunately resulted in increased delays in matters being heard.

There is little doubt that services to the central west of NSW could be enhanced if the Court had additional resources.  However, until Judges are replaced delays will continue to increase.”

Judge Dunkley acknowledges the importance of the co-operation the Court receives from local practitioners.

“The Court enjoys close working relationships with local legal practitioners and State Magistrates who transfer many family law cases from the Local Court of NSW to the specialist Federal Circuit Court.

The Court could not effectively deal with its heavy workload without the skill, commitment and additional efforts made by local practitioners to ensure that matters can be dealt with expeditiously," Judge Dunkley said.

The Federal Circuit Court has more than 30 circuits to rural and regional Australia.

For more information on the Court, see:

*These figures are generally for applications seeking final orders for parenting and/or financial disputes. The figures do not include divorce applications.


Media enquiries: Denise Healy, Media and Public Affairs Manager

Federal Circuit Court of Australia and Family Court of Australia

Ph: 03 8600 4357 or 0409 743 695 Email: