Part 4: Management of the Court
Federal Court governance
Since 1990 the Court has been self- administering, with a separate budget appropriation and reporting arrangement to the Parliament. Under the Federal Court of Australia Act, the Chief Justice of the Court is responsible for managing the Court's administrative affairs. The Chief Justice is assisted by the Registrar/ Chief Executive Officer. The Act also provides that the Chief Justice may delegate any of his or her administrative powers to judges, and that the Registrar may exercise powers on behalf of the Chief Justice in relation to the Court's administrative affairs.
In practice, the Court's governance involves two distinct structures: the management of the Court through its registry structure; and the judges' committee structure which facilitates the collegiate involvement of the judges of the Court. Judges also participate in the management of the Court through formal meetings of all judges. The registries and the judges' committees are discussed in more detail below.
Federal Court registry management structure
As outlined in Part 1 of this report, the Court's administration is supported by a national registry structure, with a Principal Registry responsible for managing national issues and provision of the corporate services functions of the Court, and a District Registry in each State and Territory which supports the work of the Court at a local level.
A diagram of the management structure of the Court is set out in Appendix 3 on page 133.
There are a number of committees of judges of the Court, which assist with the administration of the Court and play an integral role in managing issues related to the Court's administration, as well as its rules and practice.
An overarching Policy and Planning Committee provides advice to the Chief Justice on policy aspects of the administration of the Court. It is assisted by standing committees that focus on a number of specific issues in this area. In addition, other ad hoc committees and working parties are established from time to time to deal with particular issues.
An overarching National Practice Committee provides advice to the Chief Justice and judges on practice and procedure reform and improvement.
There are also a small number of standing committees that focus on specific issues within the framework of the Court's practice and procedure.
All of the committees are supported by registry staff. The committees provide advice to the Chief Justice and to all judges at the bi-annual judges' meetings.
There were two meetings of all judges of the Court during the year, which dealt with matters such as reforms of the Court's practice and procedure and amendments to the Rules of Court. Business matters discussed included the introduction of Electronic Court Files, implementation of the National Court Framework, management of the Court's finances and cost savings initiatives.
The Corporate Services Group in the Principal Registry is responsible for supporting the Court's and National Native Title Tribunal (NNTT) corporate functions. The following outlines the major corporate services issues during the reporting year. Specific references to the NNTT are also included in individual sections where required.
The Finance Committee, which is made up of judges from each of the registries, as well as the Registrar, oversees the financial management of the Court. The Corporate Services Branch supports the Committee. During 2014-15 the Committee met on two occasions.
During 2014-15 revenues from ordinary activities totalled $128.613 million.
Total revenue, in the main, comprised:
- An appropriation from Government of $92.419 million
- $20.128 million of resources received free of charge, including for accommodation occupied by the Court in Sydney
- $12.740 million of liabilities assumed by other government agencies, representing the notional value of employer superannuation payments for the Court's judges
- $3.326 million from the sale of goods and services.
Pre-depreciation expenses of $128.123 million in 2014-15 comprised: $78.328 million in judges' and employees' salaries and related expenses; $28.621 million in property related expenses; $20.513 million in other administrative expenses; and $0.661 million write-down of non-current assets.
- The net operating result from ordinary activities for 2014-15 was a surplus of $0.490 million prior to depreciation expenses. This was primarily as a result of less than expected expenditure on:
- judges' remuneration
- the Australian Competition Tribunal
- property operating costs
- library publications
- Some of the lower than expected expenditure was offset by higher than expected expenditure on:
- domestic travel
- information technology
When depreciation expenses of $4.702 million are included, the Court's expenses for 2014-15 totalled $132.836 million.
The above result includes a $0.412 surplus in relation to the NNTT, primarily as a result of lower than expected employee costs.
Equity decreased from $51.708 million in 2013-14 to $0.412 million in 2014-15.
|BUDGET 14-15 ($'000)
|ACTUAL 14-15 ($'000)
|Outcome 1: Through its jurisdiction, the Court will apply and uphold the rule of law to deliver remedies and enforce rights and in so doing, contribute to the social and economic development and wellbeing of all Australians
|Programme 1.1 - Federal Court Business
|Expenses not requiring appropriation in the budget year
|Total for Programme 1.1
|Total expenses for outcome 1
|Average staffing level (number)
The Court's agency resource statement can be found at Appendix 2 on page 132
Audit and risk management
The Principal Registrar certifies that:
- Fraud control plans and fraud risk assessments have been prepared that comply with the Commonwealth Fraud Control Guidelines.
- Appropriate fraud prevention, detection, investigation and reporting procedures and practices that comply with the Commonwealth Fraud Control Guidelines are in place.
- The Court has taken all reasonable measures to appropriately deal with fraud relating to the Court and there have been no cases of fraud during 2014-15 to be reported to the Australian Institute of Criminology.
The Court had the following structures and processes in place to implement the principles and objectives of corporate governance:
- An Audit Committee that met four times during 2014-15. The committee comprises an independent chairperson, four judges and the NSW District Registrar. The Principal Registrar, the Executive Director - Corporate Services and Chief Financial Officer and representatives from the internal audit service provider and the Australian National Audit Office (ANAO) attend committee meetings as observers.
- Internal auditors, O'Connor Marsden and Associates, who conducted three internal audits during the year to test the Court's systems of internal control.
- A Fraud Control Plan.
- Quarterly self-controlled assessments completed by senior managers.
- Internal compliance certificates completed by senior managers.
- Annual audit performed by ANAO who issued an unmodified audit certificate attached to the annual financial statements.
The Court was not the subject of any reports by a Parliamentary committee or the Commonwealth Ombudsman. The Court was not the subject of any judicial decisions or decisions of administrative tribunals regarding its operations as a statutory agency for the purposes of the Public Service Act 1999 or as a non corporate Commonwealth entity under the Public Governance, Performance and Accountability Act 2013.
The Court's procurement policies and procedures, expressed in the Court's Chief Executive Instructions, are based on the Commonwealth Procurement Rules and best practice guidance documents published by the Department of Finance. The Court achieves a high level of performance against the core principles of achieving value for money through efficient, effective and appropriately competitive procurement processes.
In compliance with its obligations under the Commonwealth Procurement Rules to achieve value for money in its purchase of goods and services, and reflecting the scale, scope and risk of a particular procurement, the Court applies procurement practices that provide small and medium-sized enterprises the appropriate opportunity to compete for its business.
During 2014-15, ten (10) new consultancy contracts were entered into involving total actual expenditure of $547,781. In addition, one (1) ongoing consultancy contract was active during the 2014-15 year which involved total actual expenditure of $88,000.
Table 4.2 below outlines expenditure trends for consultancy contracts over the three most recent financial years.
Table 4.2 - Expenditure trends for consultancy contracts 2012-13 to 2014-15
|NEW CONTRACTS ACTUAL EXPENDITURE
|ONGOING CONTRACTS ACTUAL EXPENDITURE
Information on consultancy services
The Court's policy on the selection and engagement of all contractors is based on the Australian Government's procurement policy framework as expressed in the Commonwealth Procurement Rules and associated Finance Circulars and guidance documentation published by the Department of Finance published by the Department of Finance.
The main function for which consultants were engaged related to the delivery of specialist and expert services, primarily in connection with the Court's information technology (IT) infrastructure, finance and business elements of the Court's corporate services delivery.
Consultancy services are sought where either:
- skills are not available in the agency; or
- specialised or professional skills are needed; or
- independent research or assessment is needed.
Annual reports contain information about actual expenditure on contracts for consultancies. Information on the value of contracts and consultancies is available on the AusTender website, www.tenders.gov.au.
Competitive tendering and contracting
During 2014-15, there were no contracts let to the value of $100,000 or more that did not provide for the Auditor-General to have access to the contractor's premises.
During 2014-15, there were no contracts or standing offers exempted by the Chief Executive Officer from publication in the contract reporting section on AusTender.
Advertising and marketing services
A total of $21,579 was paid for recruitment advertising services in 2014-15. Payments to Adcorp on advertising for notification of native title applications, as required under the Native Title Act 1933, totalled $148,040 over the reporting year.
The Court did not undertake any advertising campaigns or use market research, polling, direct mail organisations or media advertising agencies in 2014-15.
During the reporting year, the Court's Human Resources Section continued to provide strategic, policy and operational support to the Court's registries and the NNTT. Human Resources staff supported the Court by providing advice on the full range of human resource activities including:
- managing organisational changes and the implementation of organisational reviews
- recruitment and selection activities
- workforce planning and organisation development
- learning and development
- workplace diversity
- workplace relations
- policy development
- remuneration policy
- payroll services
- workplace health and safety.
The Court's approach to human resources issues is characterised by transparency and consultation. Consistent with this, the Court's National Consultative Committee (NCC) continued to operate as necessary through the year. In large part, most of the NCC's responsibilities were taken over in 2014-15 by the Court's Enterprise Bargaining Negotiation Team, which includes the Community and Public Sector Union (CPSU) and Bargaining Representatives. The Court's other consultative forums such as Regional Consultative Committees and the Work Health and Safety Committee continued to operate. Minutes from all committees are placed on the Court's intranet where they can be readily accessed by staff.
At 30 June 2015, the Court employed 464 employees under the Public Service Act 1999, comprising 232 ongoing full-time employees, 43 ongoing part-time employees and 189 non-ongoing employees. The high number of non-ongoing employees is due to the nature of the employment of judges' associates, who are typically employed for twelve months, as well as the employment of casual court officers. APS staffing restrictions have also had the effect of increasing the number of non-ongoing employees in the Court. The Court had an average staffing level of 395 during the reporting period.
For the 2014-15 Annual Report, the Court is required to report annually on the rate of Indigenous employment. As at 30 June 2015, the Court employed 10 employees who identify as Indigenous, of which nine were engaged in ongoing positions and one in a non-ongoing position.
More detailed staffing statistics can be found in Appendix 9 commencing on page 197.
During the reporting period, the Court relied on determinations under s 24 of the Public Service Act for setting the employment conditions of Senior Executive Service (SES) employees and Flexibility
Agreements under the Court's Enterprise Agreement for non-SES employees. The Court now has no employees on Australian Workplace Agreements.
The Court's 2011-2014 Enterprise Agreement expired on 30 June 2014 and Court management has been negotiating with the Community and Public Sector Union (CPSU) and Bargaining Representative for a replacement agreement during 2014-15.
The Court's bargaining position has been approved by the Attorney-General and the Australian Public Service Commission (as required under APS workplace bargaining policy) and the Court anticipates putting a new draft Agreement to a ballot of staff early in the 2015-16 year.
No performance bonus payments were made in 2014-15.
Work health and safety
The Court continued to promote a proactive approach to work health and safety management. Court management engaged with the Court's Work Health and Safety (WHS) Committee to promote health and safety in the workplace. A particular area of focus continued to be ensuring that the Court complies with its responsibilities under the Work Health and Safety Act 2011 (WHS Act). Specific measures included:
- Arranging regular meetings of the National WHS Committee and other consultative forums such as the National Consultative Committee and Regional Consultative Committees, all of which have a significant WHS focus.
- Undertaking WHS Audits and follow-up audits.
- Providing annual health checks and influenza shots for all staff, consistent with Enterprise Agreement provisions.
- Providing access to eyesight testing and reimbursement for spectacles where needed for screen-based work.
- Providing access to the Court's Employee Assistance Program.
- Providing training to Admiralty Marshals in boarding and disembarking vessels, consistent with a risk assessment of the role.
- Continuing to arrange medical fitness assessments of all court staff undertaking Admiralty Marshal duties, consistent with a risk assessment of the role.
- Encouraging health and fitness-related activities (eg participation in community-based fitness events) by providing funding via the Court's Health and Fitness policy.
During the reporting year, no provisional improvement notices were issued under s 90 of the WHS Act nor were any enforcement notices issued under Part 10. There were no incidents under ss 83-86 of the WHS Act (whereby any employee may cease to work due to a reasonable concern that to carry out the work would expose the employee to serious risk). There were no incidents that required a notice under s 38 of the WHS Act.
The Court continued to manage its workers compensation cases proactively throughout the reporting period and will be commencing a review of a number of longstanding cases in 2015-16.
The Court remains strongly committed to diversity in the workplace and continued to use a range of flexible employment conditions to accommodate the needs of staff.
These measures have assisted the Court in attracting and retaining employees in key areas, for example legal staff. The Court's human resource policies foster a workplace that is free from discrimination and harassment and is characterised by high levels of employee engagement and consultation.
The Court continued to build upon strategies in its Workplace Diversity plan. The Court also continued to participate in the Australian Network on Disability's 'Stepping Into Law' program and will be actively working with the Network with the aim of engaging disabled law graduates under the program in 2015-16.
NNTT diversity initiatives such as NNTT's Indigenous Advisory Group and Reconciliation Action Plan continued to operate and are open to all staff.
There is also ongoing promotion and support of staff activities for Reconciliation week and NAIDOC celebrations.
The Indigenous Advisory Group (IAG) met during the early part of the reporting period but, as with all staff forums, was suspended pending the implementation of the President's Review. More information on the President's Review can be found on page 62. Initial work had commenced on reviewing the Tribunal's Reconciliation Action Plan 2013-15, which will be actively progressed in 2015-16 in consultation with staff.
2014-15 saw the implementation of the Court's Electronic Court File project which has seen significant parts of the Court's work transform from being paper-based to being managed electronically. Given this background, a particular area of focus involved ensuring that Court employees continue to develop the skills needed to work in a digital environment as well as ensuring that the Court's organisation structures and work practices develop in a way that complements its technology initiatives. Work has begun in transforming and realigning registrar and registry practices, supporting the continued delivery of high quality court services.
The Court has a range of strategies in place to attract and retain staff including flexible employment conditions and flexibility agreements under the Enterprise Agreement. The Court continued to refine and modify these through 2014-15 as required to meet specific issues and cases. A particular focus in this area has been to ensure that employees involved in initiatives such as the Electronic Court File Project and National Court Framework are appropriately trained and recognised to ensure the retention of key staff.
Work life balance
The Court's Enterprise Agreement and a range of other human resources policies, provide flexible working arrangements to help employees balance their work and other responsibilities, including young families and ageing parents. The conditions available include access to part-time work, job sharing, flexible leave arrangements and purchased leave.
The Court also provides a range of other family-friendly initiatives including improved parental and adoption leave arrangements and homework rooms or similar appropriate facilities for staff with school-aged children.
Reward and recognition
The Court encourages and recognises exceptional performance through its annual National Excellent Service Award. The award recognises the work of individual staff and teams and is presented by the Chief Justice each February to mark the anniversary of the Court's Foundation Day, 7 February 1977.
This year's award was presented to the members of the Court's Electronic Court File (ECF) team: Maura Winston - Project Leader, Tina Boudlis, Mark Bryant, Jacinta Connery, Henry Elisher, Andrew Gilbert, Yvonne Little, Tim Luxton, Pawel Mazur, Bree McAullay, Lauren McCormick, Megan O'Brien, Margreet Shehata, Matt Shorrock, Thomas Stewart and Judy Taylor for their work in developing and successfully implementing the Court's ECF project.
As the NNTT is undergoing on organisational restructure, consultation is being undertaken with NNTT staff to develop and implement a relevant program to recognise internal achievements. In the reporting period, Anthony Gordon was recognised for 20 years service to the NNTT and Tracey Jeffries was awarded with the Indigenous Study Award.
Training and development undertaken and its impact
During 2014-15 the Court and NNTT offered a range of development opportunities to assist employees develop and improve their skills and knowledge, assist them in meeting operational requirements and ensure they have the capabilities needed now and for the future.
The focus for the Court was on competency based training in the Information Technology area, to complement the introduction of the Court's ECF project. This training included small group face to face information sessions, classroom based teaching, eLearning modules and peer mentoring (on the job training). The Court also provided training across all registries on its Skype for Business application.
The NNTT continued to provide staff with a range of training forums to enhance their personal and professional development. Aside from staff attending various external training programs, the NNTT regular speaker's series covered such topics as anti-discrimination, Aboriginal use of English, Aboriginal kinship, the challenges of prescribed bodies corporates (PBCs), managing conflict and legal writing and reasoning. In addition, a program of internal training was undertaken to ensure all staff have an understanding of native title and the statutory functions of the NNTT.
A digital records and information management training plan has been developed and implemented in NNTT and the Court. This incorporates NAA eLearning modules, agency specific awareness training and Electronic Document and Record Management System (EDRMS) end user training. Professional training for records and information management staff continues on an ongoing basis.
Employees also attended legal specialist conferences, seminars and workshops to be kept up to date on topics relevant to their work, as well as management and leadership training to reinforce professional skills. As part of their ongoing training, in-house mediators attended refresher workshops to maintain their accreditation.
The Court's study assistance policy continued to operate and provided staff with leave and financial assistance to pursue approved tertiary studies. The Court supports staff to gain tertiary qualifications in disciplines identified as important by the Court, the NNTT and the Australian Public Service. The policy's objectives are to foster a highly-skilled and committed workforce and to enhance the skills and employment prospects of staff.
Disability reporting mechanisms
The Commonwealth Disability Strategy has been overtaken by a new National Disability Strategy 2010-2020 which sets out a ten-year national policy framework to improve the lives of people with disability, promote participation and create a more inclusive society. The first annual report of the National Disability Insurance Scheme was published in October 2014: see www.ndis.gov.au
Agency multicultural plan
The Court's Agency Multicultural Plan aims to ensure that no-one's rights are 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.
Actions contained in the Plan that were progressed in the 2014-15 include:
- review of the Court's interpreter and translation policy.
- review of the Court's guidelines for the use of interpreters in Court.
- the development of an informal working group between the Court and the Federal Circuit Court to review and consider policies and procedures.
- the development of a plain-English version of the affidavit and migration form guides for translation into relevant languages.
The Court occupies law court buildings in every Australian capital city. With the exception of Sydney and Darwin, the purpose-built facilities within these Commonwealth-owned buildings are shared with other Commonwealth Court jurisdictions.
The Federal Court in Sydney is located in the Law Courts Building in Queens Square. This building is owned by a private company (Law Courts Limited) that is jointly owned by the Commonwealth and New South Wales governments. The Court pays no rent, outgoings or utility costs for its space in this building.
The Court's Darwin Registry is co-located in the Northern Territory Supreme Court building under the terms of a Licence to Occupy between the Court and the Territory Government.
The Commonwealth Law Court buildings are managed under revised 'Special Purpose Property' principles. Leasing arrangements are now governed by whether the space is designated as special purpose accommodation (courtrooms, chambers, public areas) or usable office accommodation (registry areas). An interim Memorandum of Understanding was signed by the Court with the Department of Finance for 2014-15 with negotiations continuing for a long-term agreement.
The following property works were undertaken during the reporting year:
Stage 2 Brisbane Federal Court registry upgrade works
Stage 2 involved completion of the refurbishment of the registry fulfilling Australian Government Property Data Collection (PRODAC) requirements and guidelines. The technology infrastructure was upgraded and the workspaces were modernised to be open, light filled and comfortable. This work was completed in the first quarter of 2014-15 financial year.
The construction of the Brisbane National Native Title Office and its relocation to within the Brisbane Commonwealth Law Courts Building
This project involved constructing a new office for the NNTT within the Brisbane CLC Building. The office was constructed compliant with the PRODAC requirements and guidelines. The meeting spaces were designed to be multipurpose to accommodate mediations, conferences and training. Flexible storage was provided to accommodate the changing needs of the Tribunal.
In the course of this year the Court continued to develop and revise security policies and undertake awareness training in compliance with its obligations under the Government's Protective Security Policy Framework. A review has been conducted of the workplace emergency plans and procedures, including evacuation and lockdown procedures for each of the Commonwealth Law Courts buildings.
In relation to physical security, an audit of security equipment across all Commonwealth Law Court buildings was conducted. The intention, over a five-year period, is to replace and upgrade the security equipment in each of these buildings. Additionally, following a procurement process the Commonwealth Law Courts and Tribunals entered into a new Security Guarding contract which commenced in January 2015.
On 25 June 2015 the Civil Law and Justice Legislation Amendment Act 2015 was passed by the Parliament. Following that amending act receiving Royal Assent, amendments to the Court Security Act 2013 will commence to provide for the retention and disposal of unclaimed items seized by court security officers and to clarify the processes which must be followed for the variation and revocation of court security orders made under the Court Security Act.
The Court provides the following information as required under s 516A of the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999.
The Court, together with other jurisdictions in shared premises, seeks to reduce the impact of its operations on the environment through the following measures:
- Environmental Management Systems are in place in all buildings to minimise the consumption of energy, water and waste.
- The Court has established a National Environment Committee with sub committees in most registries. The committee seeks to raise staff awareness of workplace environment issues.
- The Court has developed a National Environmental Initiative Policy which encourages staff to adopt water and energy savings practices.
Recordkeeping and information management
With the successful introduction of digital record keeping for the Court's case management files in 2014 the Court has now turned its attention to digitalising the administrative records of the Court. The Court has made substantial advances in the last year in meeting the National Archives of Australia compliance obligation for agencies to move to digital records keeping by the end of 2015. All registries of the Court are now capturing administrative records digitally within the Court's Electronic Documents Records Management System (EDRMS) Recfind.
The Court and NNTT submitted the first 'Check Up' report on digital records management to the National Archives of Australia in 2014. This report is the first in a three-year reporting cycle and was a joint report from the Court and the NNTT.
An archive project to digitise the papers and documents of the first chief justice of the Federal Court, Chief Justice Sir Nigel Bowen, is well advanced. Talks are now underway with the National Archives of Australia to transfer the original papers as well as a digital copy to National Archives for the nation's history.
A general records authority covering the administration of the Federal Court, Federal Circuit Court and Family Court is well advanced.
The NNTT is progressing to digital records and information practices in line with the Digital Transition Policy for efficiency purposes and improved governance. Electronic Documents Records Management System (EDRMS) licences have been acquired for all staff allowing an EDRMS implementation and end user training across the agency. Staff have commenced capturing both administrative and core business records digitally reducing the need for paper and associated costs.
The Court continues optimising its technology resources to pursue future efficiencies and support its operations. The Court's Information Technology group has worked in close collaboration with judges, registrars and staff of the Court to deliver a range of ICT program areas that support the Court's objectives. Work on some of the program areas will continue into 2015-16.
Electronic Court File Support
The Electronic Court File (ECF) was launched in the South Australian Registry in July 2014 and was introduced on a registry by registry basis across the Court over the remainder of calendar year 2014. Post introduction, the Court began an improvement program involving a release of application enhancements and ongoing support of judges, registrars and staff in using ECFs within their day-to-day activities for the Court.
Reflecting the Court's increasing reliance on technology in the courtroom context, a program of modernisation and improvement of courtroom technology hardware was commenced in 2014-15. This will continue into 2015-16 and beyond.
Key aspects of this modernisation program include:
- upgrade of courtroom video conferencing facilities to modern high definition capable equipment.
- preparations for the deployment of an internet protocol based video conference network.
- deployment of screens, printers, and other PC equipment to courtrooms to allow access to ECFs.
IT Infrastructure Modernisation
The Court continues to modernise its IT environment through normal lifecycle replacement of aged infrastructure as well as new initiatives to improve Court business process efficiency. This year was largely a consolidation of work conducted in 2013-14 and included:
- migration to new Secure Internet Gateway arrangement.
- migration to new virtualised server infrastructure and retirement of aged physical server fleet.
- upgrade of active directory network infrastructure to the current Microsoft version.
- upgrade of email infrastructure to the current Microsoft version.
- preparation for the deployment of new laptop fleet and related standard operating environment.
The Court is implementing strategies identified by the Australian Signals Directorate to mitigate cyber Intrusions. The Cyber Security Operations Centre estimates a significant number of cyber intrusion techniques are mitigated by implementing these strategies.
The Court has completed the annual security assessment against the mandatory requirements detailed within the Protective Security Policy Framework (PSPF), and will report against these requirements to the Auditor-General.
Specific activities delivered this year include establishing a regular IT Security Awareness presentation to be held throughout the year, standardising the IT security briefing provided to new staff, deployment of email protective marking system recommended by the Information Security Manual and an automated IT security vulnerability scanning process.
Deployment of Microsoft Skype for Business as an internal video conferencing and collaboration application
In the first half of 2015, the Court deployed Microsoft Skype for Business across all its registries and chambers for internal use. Skype for Business allows judges and staff to make video calls, conduct online meetings or use text chat. It is integrated with the Court's email and document software allowing staff to share files, conduct presentations or share their desktop during an online meeting. The uptake of Skype has been significant and it has been used to delivery internal training, conduct cross-functional team meetings and to message between staff in the courtroom and registry making the Court more responsive and delivering travel and time savings.
IT Support Service Portal
In February 2015, the Heat service portal site was launched, giving judges, registrars and staff across the registries a single access point for IT help and service requests. The Heat site arranges IT support in simple, logical areas displaying any requests from judges and staff, the Court's service catalogue and its technology knowledge bank.
Library and information services
The Court continues to maintain a national library network that provides a comprehensive library service to judges and staff of the Court as well as the Family Court of Australia, the Federal Circuit Court of Australia, and the NNTT. Collections and services are provided in Tasmania and the Northern Territory by staff in the Victorian and South Australian libraries respectively.
Australian Courts Consortium
A consortium formed by the Federal Court and High Court to share a library management system has been expanded to include the Supreme Court of Victoria and the New South Wales Department of Justice.
The libraries have worked cooperatively to create a joint library management system (using SirsiDynix) that allows the sharing of catalogues, collections, knowledge and expertise. The arrangement is governed by a memorandum of understanding which establishes a management committee with representatives from each court and agency.
Redesigned library interface
Entry into the Australian Courts Consortium has allowed the Federal Court Library to redesign its user interface providing a single access point to the library catalogue and electronic resources for all library clients, regardless of whether they are accessing the service from the Federal Court, Family Court, Federal Circuit Court, or National Native Title Tribunal networks.
Sydney library services
Library services within the Court's premises in Sydney are provided under a memorandum of understanding with the New South Wales
Department of Justice. A new heads of agreement is being negotiated.
Services to the South Pacific
The Federal Court continues to provide assistance to law libraries in the South Pacific, in particular the libraries of the Supreme Court of Tonga, Supreme Court of Vanuatu and the High Court of Kiribati. Federal Court library staff coordinate the collection and binding of duplicate law reports and arrange for the shipment of these reports and other legal texts to the various court libraries.