Agency Multicultural Plan

2013 - 2015

Multicultural Access and Equity Policy
Respecting Diversity
Improving Responsiveness

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Our vision for Multicultural Access and Equity Policy

To ensure that no one’s rights will be affected because of the inability of a party or a witness in a Court proceeding to speak or to hear the English language. All court users must have every reasonable means of understanding the course of court proceedings and be treated with due courtesy and respect.

Our Agency

The Federal Court of Australia was created by the Federal Court of Australia Act 1976 and began to exercise its jurisdiction on 1 February 1977. The Court is a superior court of record and a court of law and equity. It sits in all capital cities and elsewhere in Australia from time to time.

The objectives of the Court are to:

  • Decide disputes according to law - promptly, courteously and effectively and, in so doing, to interpret the statutory law and develop the general law of the Commonwealth, so as to fulfil the role of a court exercising the judicial power of the Commonwealth under the Constitution.
  • Provide an effective registry service to the community.
  • Manage the resources allotted by Parliament efficiently.

The Federal Court also provides registry services for the Federal Circuit Court of Australia’s (FCC) general federal law work. The FCC has a high volume of migration work and the Federal Court, in addition to its other jurisdictions, also hears migration appeals from the FCC. The Court’s AMP will assist in ensuring that culturally and linguistically diverse (CALD) clients are not disadvantaged in their dealings with either Court.


Gordon Foster, Executive Director Corporate Services, is the Senior Executive Officer responsible for the Federal Court’s Agency Multicultural Plan (AMP). The AMP was developed by a working group comprising the Executive Director Corporate Services, other senior staff from the Court’s Principal Registry and the Manager, People and Operations for the Court’s largest district registry which also has the highest number of clients from culturally and linguistically diverse (CALD) backgrounds.

The Federal Court wishes to ensure equity in service delivery (both in and outside court) to its clients including those from CALD backgrounds. The AMP will assist the Court in meeting this objective.

1. Leadership

Effective leadership in multicultural access and equity will ensure the Federal Court provides appropriate services and effective access to justice for all court users.

Minimum Obligations:

1.1 Executive Accountability – Agency to assign a Senior Executive Officer to be responsible for implementation of Multicultural Access and Equity obligations in the agency

1.2 Agency commitment – Agency leadership to ensure that staff understand and are committed to Multicultural Access and Equity implementation.

 Item No.






Executive Accountability

Appointment of a Multicultural Champion


June 2013

SES sponsor appointed within timeframe

1.2    Agency Commitment  


Undertake internal communication to promote awareness of the AMP with court staff

Manager, Policy and Planning

2013 – 2015

Information about the AMP and its implementation to be included in 3 staff newsletters over the period of the AMP


Include information about the AMP and ways staff can contribute to the Court’s commitment to CALD clients in the orientation package for new starters.

Director, Human Resources

September 2013

Information drafted and included in induction package


Consult with front line staff (court officers and client service staff) to obtain their suggestions for actions that will assist CALD clients

Directors of Court Services (and equivalents) in each Registry

December 2013

Ideas collected to be responded to by end of first quarter 2014


Other Action

Establish a working group between the Federal Court and Federal Circuit Court to review and consider policies and practices for CALD clients.

Manager, Policy and Planning

December 2013

Initial meeting to be held by end 2013. ToR and subsequent meeting requirements to be considered


2. Engagement

Effective engagement with culturally and linguistically diverse communities will provide equitable access to justice and ensure the Court meets its objective of deciding disputes according to law - promptly, courteously and effectively.

Minimum Obligations:

2.1 Stakeholder Engagement – Agency to have an engagement strategy to understand culturally and linguistically diverse communities’ interaction with agency

2.2 Language and Communication – Agency to have a language and communication plan for culturally and linguistically diverse communities, including on the use of languages other than English and incorporating the use of interpreters and translators.

Item No.





1.2. Stakeholder Engagement  


  • Include the Court’s AMP as an agenda item on registry user group meetings with the intention of obtaining feedback/comments about services provided by the Court to CALD clients. The discussion will also allow legal practitioners to talk about any initiatives their agency has put in place that may be of benefit to the Court.
  • In the larger registries, consideration will be given to holding an annual user group meeting with practitioners in the Court’s migration jurisdiction.

District Registrars

According to the user group schedule in each registry.

One meeting per annum


Information materials concerning the Telephone Interpreter Service (TIS) to be displayed in each of the Court’s registries.

Manager, Electronic information services

September 2013

Materials distributed to registries by end September 2013


Investigate the translation of select material on the Court’s website to assist CALD court users. Seek support from DIAC’s fund for one-off translations to finance this.

Manager, Electronic information services to oversee

December 2013

Subject to funding. Material translated and on the Court’s website for the commencement of the 2014 Legal Year.


Translation of ticketing options in the NSW Registry queue management system.

Director, People and Operations

July 2013



Language and Communication

Review the recommendations contained in the AIJA publication ‘Interpreter Policies, Practices and Protocols in Australian Courts and Tribunals’ and use them to inform development of a language and communication plan by:

  • Reviewing and updating the Court’s 2009 language allowance policy and skills register
  • Reviewing the Court’s interpreter and translation policy
  • Revising the in-Court guidelines for the use of interpreters

Manager Policy and Planning to oversee

Director, Human Resources

Manager, Policy and Planning

June 2014

Language and communication plan in place

3. Performance

Through measuring performance the Court will identify areas for enhancement to our services to CALD clients and ensure equitable access to justice for all court users.

Minimum Obligations:

3.1 Performance indicators and reporting – Agency to develop a set of KPIs relating to engagement with, or outcomes of services to, culturally and linguistically diverse clients.

3.2 Feedback – Agency to have arrangements to ensure affected culturally and linguistically diverse communities are able to provide feedback on agency Multicultural Access and Equity performance.

Item No.






Performance indicators and reporting

The Court will develop a set of KPIs with a specific focus on:

  • Provision of interpreters for unrepresented litigants in Court
  • Timely assistance to CALD clients who contact the Court either by phone or in person.

Put in place measures to report on the KPIs in the Court’s Annual Report

Senior Management Group

December 2013

KPIs and reporting mechanisms in place for reporting in 2013-14 Annual Report



The Court will update its Website to invite comment, feedback and suggestions from culturally and linguistically diverse clients and their representatives

The Court will update its client survey forms and processes to include feedback on services to linguistically and culturally diverse clients.

Manager Electronic Information Services

Directors of Court Services

July 2014

July 2014

Clients have an opportunity to comment on Court services and performance

Relevant feedback routinely obtained and monitored.

4. Capability

Ensuring the Federal Court’s staff (including contractors) are aware of the diverse needs of our clients enables the Court to more effectively meet its core objective of deciding disputes according to law - promptly, courteously and effectively.

Minimum Obligations:

4.1 Cultural Competency – Agency to have training and development measures to equip staff with cultural competency skills.

4.2 Research and data – Agency to collect ethnicity data on the culturally and linguistically diverse groups with which the agency engages and to which it delivers services directly or indirectly.

Item No. Action Responsibility Timeline Target
4.1  Cultural Competency  


  • Undertake a training needs assessment to ascertain the need for training to staff on cultural diversity and assisting court users with English as a second language.

Director, Human Resources

December 2013



  • Investigate DIAC elearning package with a view to implementing across the Court

Director, Human Resources

December 2013



  • The Court will run training for staff, including NNTT, in dealing with unrepresented litigants – a group with a substantial proportion of culturally and linguistically diverse clients.

Manager, Human Resources and Directors Court Services

Ongoing – training to be provided every 24 months

All staff will be able to deal capably with culturally and linguistically diverse clients


  • The Court will develop national guidelines for staff dealing with clients with difficulty communicating in English and conduct information sessions for staff in their use.

Manager, Human Resources to coordinate. DCS’ to conduct info sessions locally

July 2014

All staff are aware of appropriate practice


  • The Court will review and update a register of staff with foreign language skills. This provides payment for staff who use foreign language skills to assist clients with limited or no English. This will be extended to include National Native Title Tribunal staff.

Manager, Human Resources

February 2014

Staff language skills are used to assist clients wherever possible.


Research and data



  • Develop reporting framework to collect ethnicity data on the Court’s users.

Manager, Policy and Planning

December 2014

Reporting mechanisms developed and in place


  • Ensure, where possible, that changes to the Court’s case management system enhance the collection of ethnicity data


  • Investigate other data sources (such as interpreter bookings, NSW Registry queue management system, staff language skills payment requests) to supplement the Court’s existing ethnicity data.


  • Use ethnicity data as the basis for targeted translation of materials and development of products to enhance service delivery.


  • Contribute to and obtain information from the Attorney-General’s Department Civil Justice Evidence Base Working Group data collection framework.



5. Responsiveness

The Court will ensure that relevant policies and practices are accessible, fair and sensitive to the needs of all court users.

Minimum Obligations:

5.1 Standards – Any whole-of-government standards and guidelines developed by the agency must address Multicultural Access and Equity considerations.

5.2 Policy, program and service delivery – Provision to ensure that policies, programs, community interactions and service delivery (whether in-house or outsourced) are effective for culturally and linguistically diverse communities.

5.3 Outsourced services – Where relevant, provision for incorporation of Multicultural Access and Equity requirements into contracts, grant agreements and related guidance material of which the agency has carriage.

Item No.






Standards The Federal Court does not develop whole of government standards.

The court will review relevant whole of government standards developed by other agencies (such as the multicultural language services guidelines) to ensure, where applicable, its policies and practices are in line with those standards.

Manager, Policy and Planning

December 2013

Relevant court policies and practices are in line with guidelines


Policy, program and service delivery The Court will review its international development programs, policies and service delivery to ensure they are culturally and linguistically appropriate.

This will include reviewing cultural briefing material for court staff and consultants undertaking projects ‘in country’ and briefing material provided to international delegations visiting the Court.

International Programs Coordinator

March 2014



Outsourced services

  • The Court will review all contracts to ensure appropriate provisions are included such as training of security staff in court buildings.

National Contracts Manager

June 2014


6. Openness

By reporting on the Court’s services to culturally and linguistically diverse Australians the Court can demonstrate the effectiveness of its measures to ensure access to justice for court users.

Minimum Obligations:

6.1 Publishing – Agency to publish AMP on agency website and performance reports against agency KPIs for culturally and linguistically diverse clients in agency annual reports.

6.2 Data – Agency to make culturally and linguistically diverse data available to other agencies and the public

Item No. 









Publish AMP on website

Manager, Electronic information services

End July 2013



Publish KPIs on website

Manager, Electronic information services

August 2014

Annually at the end of each Financial year


Meet reporting requirements for annual report and DIAC biennial reporting obligations

Manager, Policy and Planning

In accordance with reporting timeframes

Reporting requirements met within set timeframes



Continue to work with other agencies such as relevant courts and tribunals and the Attorney-General’s Department to share and improve data.


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