$100m Budget allocation to boost FCC and Family Court bench by 10%

Australia’s Family Court and Federal Circuit Court chief says the $100 million earmarked to fund additional court reforms in last night’s Federal Budget will allow for the appointment of an additional 10 judges across the nation.

Chief Justice of the Family Court of Australia and Chief Judge of the Federal Circuit Court (FCC) of Australia, Will Alstergren said today the funding announced in the 2021-22 Budget would allow for much needed and crucial judicial support and reform measures.

Chief Justice Alstergren said the allocation of additional funding over the next four years would help introduce much-needed support for judges and reforms, and reduce delays to improve safety outcomes for people in involved in family law and other disputes.

It is expected the funding would pave the way for the appointment of an additional two Family Court and eight FCC judges.

“This is very good news for the Australian public,” Chief Justice Alstergren said. “For too long we have endured a less-than-ideal system, and with the injection of such substantial resources I am confident that the courts can (now) start to address the unacceptable delays litigants have faced for many years.

“The judges of our courts are some of the hardest working judges in Australia, demonstrated over the past 12 months by their ability to continue to hear cases successfully throughout the (COVID-19) pandemic.”

It is expected the additional funding will see the number of judges in the FCC increase from 68 to 76 (across family law and general federal law) and from 33 to 35 in the Family Court.

Overall, funded judicial numbers across both courts are expected to jump to 111 judges nationally – an overall increase of around 10%.

On 1 September 2021, the new amalgamated Federal Circuit Court and Family Court of Australia is slated to officially commence.

The courts’ Chief Executive Officer, David Pringle, said last night’s Budget announcement was the largest single resourcing injection the courts had ever received.

“This funding recognises the many positive initiatives that the court is undertaking, including enhanced triaging of matters to be better informed about risk, and introducing best practice case management reforms that assist parties to narrow and resolve their issues earlier to save time, stress and costs,” Mr Pringle said.

“Another important initiative is the introduction of dispute resolution conferences in parenting matters which can be jointly mediated by a registrar and child‐expert family consultant.”

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