Queensland Law Society

Court appointments welcome but numbers still critically low: QLS

QLS president Christine Smyth has welcomed the appointments of a new Chief Justice of the Family Court and Chief Judge of the Federal Circuit Court, while warning that judicial numbers remain critically low in these jurisdictions.

“Delays experienced by families litigating in these courts exacerbate already stressful conditions and can permanently damage those families, in particular the children,” she said.

Ms Smyth said that the situation needed to be addressed immediately, and could not await the outcome of the federal government’s Family Court Review.

“The need is acute and immediate, and we don’t need a review to know that there exists a significant shortage of judges in the Family and Federal Circuit Courts," she said.

"Many of Queensland’s regional centres, in particular, are crying out for judges to sit locally on a permanent basis.”

Ms Smyth said that waiting 18 months was simply not an option, given the fact that the need for more judges was only one part of a significant problem.

“We also need more court facilities, mediation services, and intervention services for the causes of family breakdown, such as drug and alcohol and anger management issues and better cooperation between state and federal parliaments," she said.

"While I appreciate that state and federal regimes may not always see eye-to-eye, such reform is win-win and should be above partisan bickering.”

She said that a failure to act now would only make reform harder in the future, and noted that matters which affect the family affect society has a whole.

“The family unit is one of the pillars on which our society is built; When a family is in crisis, society is fractured.”

ENDS

For further information, please contact the External Affairs Division on 07 3842 5835, mobile 0488 433 884 or via email, media@qls.com.au.