Proposed restructure of the Family, Federal and Federal Circuit Courts’ jurisdiction


Message from President Arthur Moses SC

The Federal Attorney-General, the Hon Christian Porter MP, has today announced that a new single “Federal Circuit and Family Court of Australia” will be established from 1 January 2019, in addition to a new Family Law Appeal Division in the Federal Court of Australia to hear all appeals in family law matters from the new Court. At this stage it is premature to comment on these proposals until draft legislation is released so that these matters can be properly considered and an informed consultation process followed. The Federal Attorney-General has advised me in correspondence today that he is willing to engage in discussions about these proposed reforms. The NSW Bar Association appreciates this invitation and will be taking the Federal Attorney-General up on the offer when the draft legislation is released.

The NSW Bar Association’s position has always been that real and lasting reform has to be based on evidence which is aimed at reducing the unacceptable delays that exist in Australia’s family law system. The current delays are significant and continue to affect the quality of life of children and their families throughout Australia. The delays are getting worse and cannot continue. We will await to see the material that is being relied upon in relation to these proposals so that they are not considered in a vacuum. It is the NSW Bar Association’s view that the provision of sufficient judicial resources and appropriate legal aid funding is at the heart of dealing with these delays. Australian children and their families deserve proper representation in order to access justice in their time of need.

The Bar Association will continue to work with the Courts which are the subject of these proposals and Government to improve family law outcomes. Members will be kept informed of further developments when the draft legislation is released so that they can provide their input in relation to the proposals.

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