Federal Circuit Court of Australia

Corporate Plan 2017- 2018


The FCC was established under the Federal Circuit Court of Australia Act 1999 (Cth). The FCC provides a simpler and more accessible alternative to litigation in the FCoA and the FCA and helps to relieve the workload of the superior federal courts.

The provisions of the Federal Circuit Court of Australia Act 1999 (Cth) enable the FCC to operate as informally as possible in the exercise of judicial powers, use streamlined procedures and make use of a range of dispute resolution processes to resolve matters without judicial decisions.

The FCC deals with a high volume of matters and delivers services to regional Australia through its regular circuit court program. Its jurisdiction includes family law and child support, administrative law, admiralty, bankruptcy, consumer, human rights, industrial, intellectual property and migration.

On 1 July 2016 the FCC became responsible for the provision of family law registry services to the FCC and the FCoA. Registry services also include the NEC. The FCA continues to provide registry services for the courts’ general federal law matters.

Our vision

The Court and its judges shall inspire public confidence in the rule of law and deliver the highest standard of justice to the Australian community, irrespective of a litigant’s race, socio-economic background, gender or geographical location.

Our Mission

The Court and its judges shall fulfil its vision by being accessible, timely, responsive and accountable and by fairly and efficiently resolving disputes brought before it by:

  • acting impartially and independently
  • operating without undue formality
  • using streamlined procedures
  • encouraging the use of a range of appropriate dispute resolution processes
  • endeavouring to ensure that the proceedings are not protracted, and
  • striving to ensure equal access to court services.

Our values

We are committed to upholding the Australian Public Service Values and Employment Principles and to comply with the Code of Conduct. We are impartial, committed to service, accountable, respectful and ethical.



The FCC's Corporate Plan is based on three strategic objectives. These are reviewed each year by the administration and the judiciary to ensure that they remain relevant to our operating environment.

This information is also reflected in the Annual Report and Annual Performance Statement for the FCA. Performance measures include those which are submitted in the Portfolio Budget Statements for the FCA.

The FCC has grown to become Australia’s principal federal trial court. The Court aims to be an innovative, agile organisation which is responsive to the needs of all litigants including those in rural and regional communities.

The foundation for this strategy is our charter to provide simpler and more accessible alternatives to litigation, with a particular focus on increasing accessibility in regional and rural areas.

In addition, our strategy addresses the Court’s challenge in meeting the demands of a large and diverse caseload. Significant thought has gone into improving court user accessibility and simplifying processes and procedures. This includes the development of a Registry Services Delivery Strategy for family law, an extensive IT requirements review and an education program for the judiciary and their direct support staff.

This plan consolidates our current strategies and builds on our commitment to innovation to ensure that the Court is equipped to respond to the challenges ahead.

Our strategic objectives for the next four years:

  1. Ensure efficient access to justice.
  2. Improve business systems.
  3. Provide flexible and responsive registry services.


Performance Measures

The key outcome measure for the Court is contained in Outcome Three of the Portfolio Budget Statement. That is, to apply and uphold the rule of law for litigants in the FCC through more informal and streamlined resolution of family law and general federal law matters according to law, through the encouragement of appropriate dispute resolution processes and through the effective management of the administrative affairs of the Court.

The Court maintains two goals related to timely completion of cases and the timely delivery of registry services to measure the performance of its work. All strategies and tactical plans are designed to support the achievement of these performance goals.

Our Annual Performance Statement will report on the success of the plan to achieve the following targets:

Timely completion of cases will be measured by the following:

  1. ninety per cent of final order applications disposed of within 12 months
  2. ninety per cent of all other applications disposed of within six months, and
  3. seventy per cent of matters resolved prior to trial.

Timely provision of family law registry services will be measured by:

  1. seventy-five per cent of counter enquiries served within 20 minutes
  2. eighty per cent of NEC telephone enquiries answered within 90 seconds
  3. eighty per cent of email enquiries responded to within two working days, and
  4. seventy-five per cent of applications lodged processed within two working days.


1 Strategic Objective - Efficient access to justice

The Court’s broad jurisdiction and less formal legislative mandate creates significant challenges in streamlining and simplifying access for court users.

Current judicial resourcing and an increase in certain aspects of workload for the Court, particularly in migration matters, provide the impetus to improve productivity through the development of streamlined processes and resources to support court users.

In 2016, family law matters constituted 91 per cent of all applications filed. As such, family law is a particular focus area for strategy.

The Court has a track record of innovation in the area of family law and collaborates with other agencies to improve processes and improve access. Since the introduction of the Notice of Risk in 2015, the Court has driven efforts to improve the interface between the child welfare and family law systems through developing partnerships and information exchange mechanisms with local and state providers.

A further example of the Court’s innovation is the development and implementation of a fully electronic divorce file. Approximately 45,000 divorce files are lodged each year with upwards of 70 per cent of those applications now being lodged electronically. Any hard copy applications are converted to a digital format ensuring that all divorce files are now electronic. These changes improve access to justice for litigants by further enabling online services.

The Court pays particular attention to ensuring court users in rural and regional areas have access to justice. This strategy seeks to maximise the scheduling of judicial resources and effectively manage property and other resources to reduce cost and improve efficiency to ensure that rural and regional Australians have access to the Court.

The Court has developed a program of sittings in rural and regional locations called circuits. Approximately 20 per cent of the Courts family law workload is based in circuit locations. Strategies to improve the efficiency and value of circuits, as well as better analysis of workloads are priorities. These strategies seek to provide convenient, localised service whereby matters can be dealt with in the one location. eFiling enables court users to file documents electronically, reducing the need to attend a registry location.

Our strategies over the next four years

  1. Improve the scope for information sharing and collaboration with other agencies to improve access and service delivery to court users.
  2. Improve the cost effectiveness and efficient management of circuits.
  3. Identify opportunities to provide self-service options for court users.


Priorities for 2017–18 efficient access to justice

In 2017–18, the FCC will undertake the following projects and deliverables:




Collaborate with agencies and service providers to improve access and service delivery

  • Work towards enhanced collaboration with agencies and service providers to facilitate information sharing when risks are alleged in family law proceedings


Continue to enhance rural and regional mediation services

  • Refine the process of referrals to mediation provided via the Administered Appropriation


Analyse circuit workloads

  • Further refine data requirements and reports to enable a review of circuit workloads


Identify opportunities to expand eFiling and online services

  • Promote the benefits of the Commonwealth Courts Portal, eFiling and other online services


  • Develop the capacity to enable the eFiling of all applications types


2 Strategic Objective - Improved business systems

The work of the Court is characterised by the high volume of trial work across a diverse range of jurisdictions in family and general federal law. In pursuit of the objectives spelt out in the Court’s mission, which relate to efficient and effective case management, the Court maintains a policy of judicial-led case management. Therefore it is critical that judges and their support staff, in particular, are assisted by systems and tools that contribute to this policy.

With the move to a shared corporate services environment, it is important to develop a common understanding of the Court’s practices and the key supporting systems and business processes. This includes work done in judicial chambers, including interaction with parties during litigation and the support provided by the registries in both family and general federal law. Analysis of work undertaken in judicial chambers has already led to the automation of the production of court orders providing significant benefits in terms of efficiency, accuracy and time.

It is equally important that the judges of the Court and case management judges have access to relevant and timely information about their workload. The management of judicial time in a high volume trial court requires accurate information on key parameters to assist the Court in meeting its key performance indicators.

Our strategies over the next four years

  1. Review business processes critical to judicial functions.
  2. Realise the benefits of the automation of order production and processing.
  3. Implement real time business intelligence reporting to monitor and manage workloads for the judiciary.


Priorities for 2017–18 improved business systems

In 2017–18, the FCC will undertake the following projects and deliverables:




Review of business processes

  • Project plan

December 2018

Evaluate critical business system improvements

  • Develop a roadmap for review

December 2018

Realise benefits of automated court orders

  • Stage 1 – cease sending orders via post to legal practitioners

July 2017

  • Stage 2 – cease sending all orders via post
January 2018

Refine reporting requirements for business intelligence tools

  • Finalise reporting requirements

August 2017

Develop and implement focused training for staff

  • Develop and implement online induction and training for registry service officers

December 2018

  • Roll out the Family Violence and Disability eLearning packages
December 2018


3 Strategic Objective - Transformation of service delivery

The Court provides a range of services to court users and the judiciary, ensuring access to skilled staff, timely information and courtrooms that function effectively. The Court’s vision to provide access in a broad geographic area across a diverse caseload creates significant challenges to balance resources and services with cost. The evolution to a digital environment, in accordance with Government policy, requires consideration of alternative methods of service delivery.

The demands of supporting self-represented litigants have required the Court to introduce self-help processes through intuitive technologies to reduce loads on registry staff and the NEC.

A family law registry services strategy was developed in 2015 to identify ways to improve service delivery. This reinforces the FCC’s commitment to identify technologies and processes to improve communication channels and streamline case management for court users and provide support to the judiciary.

Our strategies over the next four years

  1. Leverage technology to improve service delivery to court users and the judiciary.
  2. Standardise and simplify processes to improve our efficiency and responsiveness to court user’s needs.
  3. Partner with State and Commonwealth agencies to enhance service delivery in regional and rural areas.
  4. Expand capability in the NEC.


Priorities for 2017–18 transformation of service delivery

In 2017–18, the FCC will undertake the following projects and deliverables:




Identify opportunities to expand the use of online services to integrate court user needs, improve access and reduce cost

  • Scope the requirements with users
  • Develop a project plan


Review demands on NEC and registry staff by better understanding court user needs

  • Review NEC data to identify needs of court users
  • Provide recommendations re service delivery

July 2017

September 2017


Create a virtual registry to improve access and reach

  • Simplify and improve access to court-related information


  • Introduce systems to initiate applications and make payments
  • Identify other transactions that can be web enabled
  • Develop communication methods using technology to remind litigants of court events

Scope the potential for using social networking technologies

  • Identify opportunities to use social media to provide users with updated court information



Resourcing - Federal Circuit Court of Australia

The table below illustrates the financial and staffing resources applied by the FCC over the four years of this Plan.

Administered expenses
- Administered item 1,583 1,579 1,580 1,584
- Special appropriations
Public Governance, Performance and Accountability Act 2013





Administered total





Departmental expenses
- Departmental appropriation 89,185 91,474 91,359 91,651
- S74 retained revenue receipts (a) 640 640 640 640
- Expenses not requiring appropriation in the budget year (b) 2,526 624 624 624

Departmental total





Total expenses Federal Circuit Court





Average staffing level (c)


Note: Departmental appropriation splits and totals are indicative estimates and may change in the course of the budget year as government priorities change.

  1. Estimated expenses incurred in relation to receipts retained under section 74 of the Public Governance, Performance and Accountability Act 2013.
  2. Expenses not requiring appropriation in the budget year are made up of liabilities assumed by other entities.
  3. Excludes judges.


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