AIJA Matters - April 2023

The office of the AIJA is located on the traditional lands of the Gadigal people of the Eora Nation. We pay our respects to the Gadigal elders past and present, to all the Gadigal people and to all First Nations peoples

Message from the President

Welcome to AIJA Matters, our bi-monthly update for AIJA members.

I am delighted to confirm that the 2023 AIJA Oration will be delivered by AIJA Council member Tony McAvoy SC on Friday 23 June 2023 in Brisbane. Tony will be sharing his experiences of being a member of the First Nations Referendum Working Group and his insights into the proposed Voice to Parliament. I would also like to congratulate Tony on being honoured as Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Practitioner of the Year at the 2022 Australian ADR Awards. More details about the event can be found here.

Another significant event looming in our calendar is the “Enduring courts in changing times” conference in September, which is a two and a half day joint event presented by the AIJA, the Australian Academy of Law and the Australian Law Journal. The conference will mark two important bicentenaries of the New South Wales and Tasmanian Supreme Courts. Further information about the event can be found here.

The AIJA congratulates the Hon Justice Debbie Mortimer, who has been appointed Chief Justice of the Federal Court. Apart from her Honours well known professional capacity and high standing, it is timely to acknowledge Chief Justice Mortimer is the first woman to be appointed to the position. I would also like to congratulate AIJA Member The Hon Justice Paul Brereton AM RFD, who has been appointed as the inaugural Commissioner of the National Anti-Corruption Commission. We include more information about these appointments later in this update.

I recently attended the launch of “Australian Courts: Controversies, Challenges and Change”, edited by Marg Camilleri and Alistair Harkness, a timely and challenging text which features a contribution by AIJA Indigenous Justice Committee member Magistrate Jacqueline Payne about Murri Courts. Many of the issues dealt with track closely with the type of work undertaken by the AIJA. You can read more about the book here and watch the online launch panel discussion, which I participated in, here.

I hope you enjoy this issue of AIJA Matters.

The Honourable Justice Jenny Blokland
President, The Australasian Institute of Judicial Administration


In Profile

Tony McAvoy SC
Member of the First Nations Referendum Working Group
Councillor and Co-Convenor, Indigenous Justice Committee, AIJA
Fellow, Australian Academy of Law (AAL)

Tony is a Wirdi man from the Central Queensland area around Clermont. He graduated from QUT in 1988 and was admitted as a solicitor of the Qld Supreme Court the same year. When he was appointed in 2015, he became Australia’s first Indigenous Senior Counsel. He was recently named Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Practitioner of the Year at the 2022 Australian ADR Awards.

Tony started practising in Queensland and now practises at the NSW Bar, specialising in native title and land rights. Between 2011 and 2013, Tony was an Acting Part-Time Commissioner of the NSW Land and Environment Court. From 8 December 2021 to 30 June 2022 he was the Acting Northern Territory Treaty Commissioner. Tony delivered the 2021 Dr Charles Perkins Memorial Oration and, in October 2022, he was awarded an honorary Doctor of Laws from UTS. He is a Fellow of the Australian Academy of Law.

Additionally, Tony is the co-convenor of the AIJA’s Indigenous Justice Committee, Chair of the NSW Bar Association’s First Nations Committee, and Co-chair of the Law Council of Australia's Indigenous Legal Issues Committee. He is also a member of the First Nations Referendum Working Group, co-chaired by Minister Linda Burney and Special Envoy Patrick Dodson, which is providing advice to the Government on how best to ensure a successful Referendum and focus on the key questions that need to be considered.

Tony spoke about wording of the referendum question, the design principles of The Voice, and “the incredible privilege” of being part of the Referendum Working Group in a recent interview with the ABC.


Professional updates

Justice Mortimer appointed Chief Justice of the Federal Court
Congratulations to The Hon Justice Debbie Mortimer, who has been appointed Chief Justice of the Federal Court. She succeeds Chief Justice Allsop, who formally stepped down from the role on 6 April 2023. She is the first woman to hold the position.

Justice Mortimer was first appointed to the Federal Court in 2013, following her successful career as a leading silk. In announcing her appointment as Chief Justice, Attorney-General Mark Dreyfus said: “Justice Mortimer is widely recognised for her legal acumen, intellectual capacity and judicial leadership.”

Justice Brereton to head National Anti-Corruption Commission
Congratulations to AIJA Member, The Hon Justice Paul Brereton AM RFD, who has been appointed as the inaugural Commissioner of the National Anti-Corruption Commission. His appointment is for a five year term.

In announcing the appointment, Attorney-General Mark Dreyfus pointed to Justice Brereton’s “wealth of experience leading complex and sensitive investigations, including as Assistant Inspector-General of the Australian Defence Force when he delivered the Afghanistan Inquiry Report”.

Digital Strategy for the courts and tribunals of Aotearoa New Zealand
On 29 March 2023, The Chief Justice of New Zealand launched the Digital Strategy for the Courts and Tribunals of Aotearoa New Zealand. The Digital Strategy sets out the judiciary’s objectives and guiding principles for use of technology in the courts. It also outlines how the judiciary, supported by the Ministry of Justice, will strive to capture the benefits of technology, without compromising the human quality of the justice system. You can read more about the Digital Strategy here.

Dubbo Drug Court opens
After more than a decade of community campaigning, the Dubbo Drug Court opened on 22 February 2023. It is a multi-agency response to drug-related offending and the fourth court of its kind in New South Wales.

According to the New South Wales government: “The Court is proven to be more efficient at driving down crime and the intensive rehabilitation that it provides costs less than sending offenders to prison. Participants undergo a 12-month program, including mandatory detoxification in jail and drug testing up to three times a week in the community, while receiving interventions to address the underlying causes of drug dependency and offending. Violent or sex offenders are excluded from participating.” Full media release here.

The Law Society recently published an article that shared the insights of Jeff Amatto, a proud Wiradjuri man, who is a dedicated advocate for Dubbo’s Drug Court and for culturally-based rehabilitation.

Specialist Indigenous List (SIL) now operating from Lismore registry
The Federal Circuit and Family Court of Australia (Division 2) has announced the commencement of a Specialist Indigenous List (SIL) operating from Lismore registry in NSW, which involves specialised services dedicated to helping families navigate the family law system.

Chief Justice, Will Alstergren AO said: “The Court is very pleased to have engaged Indigenous Family Liaison Officers (IFLOs) who work closely with communities across Australia. The Court’s commitment to providing specialised services for Indigenous families supports one of our overarching goals of delivering fair and equitable access to justice to all Australians, by providing guidance and support to vulnerable parties and children as they navigate the family law system.”

The Specialist Indigenous List will, whenever possible, be heard in person at Lismore once a month and will be managed by Senior Judicial Registrar Flintoff with Division 2 final hearings to be presided over by Judge Turner.

New Launceston Court facilities open
On Monday 3 April 2023, the Federal Circuit and Family Court of Australia (Division 1 and Division 2) officially opened new court facilities in Launceston. Guest speakers at the opening included the Honourable Mark Dreyfus KC MP, the Honourable Chief Justice Will Alstergren AO, and Ms Amanda Thompson, President of The Law Society of Tasmania. The event was also attended by AIJA Council Member Judge Sandra Taglieri, who regularly sits in Launceston to hear northern-based matters.

In his address at the opening, Chief Justice Alstergren said: “The Courts’ priority continues to be keeping children and families safe, and this purpose built facility is one of many initiatives that demonstrates the Courts’ commitment to addressing safety and issues of family violence…These new premises provide tangible improvements, including a dedicated safe room for vulnerable litigants and their children, as well as a separate but adjoining video-conferencing safe room to enable litigants who are concerned for their safety to attend court events remotely while remaining within the safety of the court precinct.”

FC and FCA win national award for alternative dispute resolution initiatives
The Federal Circuit Court and the Family Court of Australia received national recognition for their innovative and ground-breaking integration of safe dispute resolution into the family law system at the Australian Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) Awards held on Friday 31 March 2023.

In receiving the award on behalf of the Courts, Deputy Chief Justice McClelland said: ”The Courts’ focus on dispute resolution, where it is safe to do so, has allowed significant numbers of separated families to find agreement and closure, and to avoid the emotional and financial costs associated with protracted litigation.”


AIJA Resources

AI decision-making podcast
The AIJA has published a podcast based on the 2022 publication of AI Decision-Making and the Courts – A Guide for Judges, Tribunal Members and Court Administrators. The guide was a joint research project with UNSW Faculty of Law and Justice through the Allens Hub for Technology Law and Innovation and the Law Society of NSW Future of Law and Innovation in the Profession (FLIP) research stream.

Artificial intelligence (AI) is slowly being introduced into the courts across all jurisdictions. As AI tools are likely to be increasingly deployed, it is important for the judiciary, tribunal members and court administrators to understand the challenges and opportunities they present.

In this podcast, two of the report’s authors discuss an overview of various AI and decision-making tools and raise the possible challenges and opportunities they present for our courts and tribunals. You can listen to the podcast, presented by Professor Lyria Bennett Moses and Professor Michael Legg, here.

AIJA Indigenous Youth Justice Conference videos
The AIJA, in collaboration with the Law Society of New South Wales, presented the 2022 AIJA Indigenous Youth Justice Conference in Sydney on 29-30 October 2022. The conference examined many complex issues associated with Indigenous youth justice to promote meaningful discussion about ways to improve the situation.

Sessions from the conference are now available on video. To view the sessions at no cost, click here.



2023 AIJA Oration
Indigenous constitutional recognition and representation - a Voice to Parliament

The 2023 AIJA Oration will be delivered by AIJA Council member Tony McAvoy SC on Friday 23 June 2023 at 5pm in the Banco Court, Queen Elizabeth II Courts, Brisbane.

WHERE Banco Court, Queen Elizabeth II Courts, 415 George Street, BRISBANE QLD 3000
WHEN Friday 23 June 2023 5.00pm - 6.45pm

Tony is a Wirdi man from the Central Queensland area around Clermont and is Australia’s first Indigenous Senior Counsel. He is also a member of the First Nations Referendum Working Group, which is providing advice to the Government on how best to ensure a successful Referendum and focus on the key questions that need to be considered.

You can register for the event here.

September conference to celebrate bicentenaries for administration of justice
The AIJA, the Australian Academy of Law and the Australian Law Journal are presenting a two and a half day joint event to mark important national legal bicentenaries. “Enduring courts in changing times” will be held on Friday 8 – Sunday 10 September 2023. Those legal bicentenaries are, for New South Wales, the Third Charter of Justice promulgated on 13 October 1823 establishing the Supreme Court and, for Tasmania, the first sitting of the Supreme Court of Van Diemen’s Land on 10 May 1824.

The conference will be held in New South Wales and Tasmania. The program is currently being confirmed, but will address topics spanning legal systems and Indigenous peoples, history, the appointment of judges, criminal law, technology, the impartial administration of justice, and courts and the media.

Confirmed speakers, include:

  • The Hon. Chief Justice Andrew Bell, Supreme Court of New South Wales
  • The Hon. Chief Justice Alan Blow AO, Supreme Court of Tasmania
  • Prof. Val Napoleon, University of Victoria, British Columbia
  • The Hon. Justice Joe Williams, Supreme Court of New Zealand
  • Prof. Lisa Ford, University of New South Wales
  • Prof. Liz Fisher, University of Oxford
  • Emeritus Prof. Bruce Kercher, Macquarie University
  • Emeritus Prof. the Hon. Kate Warner AC, University of Tasmania

You can register your interest in attending the conference here.


On topic

In this section of AIJA Matters, we curate highlights of recent judicial administration news and insights from local and global sources.

8th National Law Firm Pro Bono Survey 
The Australian Pro Bono Centre recently released its 8th National Law Firm Pro Bono Survey. The survey showed the highest recorded number of pro bono hours in FY22, together with an increase in dedicated pro bono staff and in the recognition of the positive impacts of pro bono work. You can read the report here.

Specialist courts and innovative justice: a talk with Rob Hulls
The Victoria Law Foundation recently published a conversation between Lynne Haultain, Executive Director Victoria Law Foundation, and the Director of the RMIT Centre for Innovative Justice and former Attorney General Rob Hulls AM. The conversation explores the importance of innovative justice, holistic thinking and the specialist courts in Victoria.  You can watch it here.

NCSC Racial Justice Organisational Assessment Tool for Courts
The US National Center for State Courts (NCSC) has released a new online self-service resource – the Racial Justice Organizational Assessment Tool for Courts. The assessment asks users to explore four organisational areas: Judicial Commitment, Vision and Leadership; Capacity for Community-Based Learning & Data-Driven Decision-Making; The Bench & Court Workforce; and Court Services. You can access the online tool here.

Court design self-assessment tool
The NCSC recently published another online resource called “Court Space Reform”, which includes a courthouse self-assessment tool. It is designed to help courts better understand their current design limitations and identify opportunities to improve or expand serviceability.

NCSC’s Just Horizons initiative
NCSC’s Just Horizons initiative has spent two years examining how to better anticipate and prepare for social and technological drivers of change. It has identified critical areas of vulnerability for courts, and developed guidance, actionable resources and tools to help courts of any size or jurisdiction become future-ready. You can read the final report here and take the court-readiness assessment here.

2023 International Day of Women Judges webinar
The Global Judicial Integrity Network and JIN ASEAN  marked the 2023 International Day of Women Judges with a webinar called “Promoting Active Participation of Women in the Judiciary”. You can watch a recording of the webinar here.

Sextortion – the impact on judging and courts
In partnership with the International Association of Women Judges, the UNDP Judicial Integrity Network in ASEAN recently hosted an online panel discussion focused on the gendered aspects of corruption in ASEAN. The panel of international experts shared their insights on gender threats in the courtroom. You can watch a recording of the webinar here. 

Global Judicial Integrity Network opinion pieces
In the lead up to International Women’s Day, The Global Judicial Integrity Network published an interesting selection of opinion pieces, including articles addressing The Significance of Women Judges and My Contribution Towards Gender Equality and the Equality of Access to Justice and Women Judges and Women Judicial Leaders Play an Irreplaceable Role in Modern Judiciary. You can read more here.

Call for papers for the 2023 EGPA Annual Conference 
The Permanent Study Group XVIII on Justice and Court Administration invites submissions to the next EGPA Annual Conference in Zagreb, Croatia (September 5-8, 2023), and welcomes paper submissions on the administration and the management of justice. Key topics of the meeting are: eJustice and artificial intelligence; justice administration and politics; justice administration and society; management of courts; and procedure and judgments. You are invited to submit an abstract through the conference tool by 17 May 2023.