Corporate Plan 2020-2021
The Federal Court of Australia entity has four programs:
- Program 1.1: Federal Court of Australia
Program 1.1: National Native Title Tribunal
- Program 2.1: Family Court of Australia
- Program 3.1: Federal Circuit Court of Australia
- Program 4.1: Commonwealth Courts Corporate Services
Program 4.2: Commonwealth Courts Registry Services.
Program 1.1: Federal Court of Australia
The Federal Court was created by the Federal Court of Australia Act 1976 (Cth) and began to exercise its jurisdiction on 1 February 1977. It assumed jurisdiction formerly exercised in part by the High Court of Australia and the whole jurisdiction of the Australian Industrial Court and the Federal Court of Bankruptcy.
The Federal 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 Court’s jurisdiction is broad, covering almost all civil matters arising under Australian federal law and some summary and indictable criminal matters.
The Court’s workload is organised by National Practice Areas and, where applicable, sub-areas based on established areas of law.
The Chief Justice is the senior judge of the Court and is responsible for managing the business and administrative affairs of the Court. The Chief Justice is assisted by the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) and Principal Registrar, who is appointed by the Governor-General on the nomination of the Chief Justice.
The Federal Court has a substantial and diverse appellate jurisdiction. It hears appeals from decisions of single judges of the Court, decisions of the Federal Circuit Court of Australia in non-family law matters, decisions of the Supreme Court of Norfolk Island and certain decisions of state and territory supreme courts exercising federal jurisdiction.
Since July 2012, the Federal Court has had responsibility for corporate administration of the National Native Title Tribunal, however the Tribunal remains an independent body established by the Native Title Act 1993.
In 2016, the corporate services of the Family Court of Australia and the Federal Circuit Court were merged with the Federal Court, with the management of those corporate services managed by a listed non-corporate entity known as the Federal Court of Australia (the entity). See Program 4.1.
Program 1.1: National Native Title Tribunal
The Native Title Act 1993 (Cth) established the National Native Title Tribunal as an independent body with a wide range of functions.
The Native Title Act is a special measure for the advancement and protection of Aboriginal peoples and Torres Strait Islanders and is intended to advance the process of reconciliation amongst all Australians.
The purpose of the native title scheme, established by the Native Title Act, is to provide for the recognition and protection of native title, establish a mechanism for determining claims to native title, and establish ways in which future dealings affecting native title (future acts) may proceed.
The Tribunal has numerous functions designed to assist in serving that purpose. In particular, the Tribunal has responsibilities in connection with the processing of applications for determinations as to the existence or non-existence of native title over identified parcels of land, and with applications for compensation payable pursuant to the Native Title Act.
The Tribunal has functions in connection with future acts as defined in s 233 of the Native Title Act. It also assists persons involved in proceedings under the Act, including dispute resolution.
The President of the Tribunal is responsible for managing the administrative affairs of the Tribunal with the assistance of the Federal Court CEO and Principal Registrar. The President may delegate his powers under the Native Title Act, to the Native Title Registrar or any staff assisting the Tribunal. The CEO and Principal Registrar also has powers of delegation under the Public Service Act 1999 (Cth) and the Public Governance, Performance and Accountability Act 2013 (Cth). The President may direct the CEO and Principal Registrar regarding the exercise of her power to assist the President in managing the administrative affairs of the Tribunal.
Program 2.1: Family Court of Australia
The Family Court is a superior court of record and a court of law and equity, established by Parliament in 1975 under Chapter III of the Constitution. The Family Court operates under the Family Law Act 1975 (Cth) and through its specialist judges and staff, assists Australians to resolve their most complex family law disputes.
The Family Court exercises original and appellate jurisdiction in family law, including in a number of highly specialised areas. At first instance, the Court determines cases with the most complex law, facts and parties, and hears cases arising under the regulations implementing the Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction.
It provides national coverage as the appellate court in family law matters, including hearing appeals from decisions of single judges of the Federal Circuit Court in family law matters and the Family Court of Western Australia.
The Chief Justice is the head of jurisdiction and is responsible for managing the administrative affairs of the Court. The Chief Justice is assisted by the CEO and Principal Registrar who is appointed by the Governor-General on the nomination of the Chief Justice.
The Family Court maintains registries in all Australian states and territories except Western Australia.
Program 3.1: Federal Circuit Court of Australia
The Federal Circuit Court was established by the Federal Circuit Court of Australia Act 1999 (Cth) as an independent federal court under Chapter III of the Constitution. The Court is a federal court of record and a court of law and equity.
The provisions of the Federal Circuit Court of Australia Act 1999 (Cth) enable the Federal Circuit Court to operate as informally as possible in the exercise of judicial power, use streamlined procedures and make use of a range of dispute resolution processes to resolve matters without judicial decisions.
The Federal Circuit Court sits in all capital cities, selected major regional centres, and also circuits to a number of regional locations. It deals with a high volume of matters and delivers services to regional Australia through its regular circuit court program.
The jurisdiction of the Federal Circuit Court includes family law and child support and the following areas of general federal law: administrative law, admiralty law, bankruptcy, consumer law, human rights, industrial, intellectual property, migration and privacy.
The Chief Judge is the head of jurisdiction and is responsible for managing the administrative affairs of the Court. The Chief Judge is assisted by the CEO and Principal Registrar who is appointed by the Governor-General on the nomination of the Chief Judge.
Program 4.1: Commonwealth Courts Corporate Services
The Courts Administration Legislation Amendment Act 2016 (Cth) established the Commonwealth Courts Corporate Services program from 1 July 2016.
Corporate Services includes communications, finance, human resources, information technology, library, procurement and contract management, property, risk oversight and management, judgment publishing and statistics.
The shared corporate services body is managed by the Accountable Authority, which is the Federal Court CEO and Principal Registrar. The Accountable Authority consults with the heads of jurisdiction and the CEOs of the Family Court and Federal Circuit Court in relation to the performance of this function. Currently, the Family Court and Federal Circuit Court share the same CEO. Details relating to corporate services and consultation requirements are set out in a memorandum of understanding.
Corporate Services generates efficiencies by consolidating resources and infrastructure, streamlining processes and reducing duplication. The savings gained from reducing the administrative burden on each Court and the Tribunal will be reinvested to support the core functions of the entity.
Program 4.2: Commonwealth Courts Registry Services
In 2019–20, the registry services functions for the Federal Court, Family Court and the Federal Circuit Court were amalgamated into a new program under Outcome 4 known as the Commonwealth Courts Registry Services.
This initiative provides the Courts with the opportunity to shape the delivery of administrative services across the entity in a more innovative and efficient manner.
A focus on maximising registry operational effectiveness through streamlined structures and digital innovations will significantly contribute to the future financial sustainability of the Courts.