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Courts and Tribunals Academy launched

Briefs

Cite as: December 2015 89 (12) LIJ, p.13

Many high-ranking public servants don’t understand how courts and tribunals operate beyond what they’ve seen on television, according to the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Victoria Marilyn Warren.

Speaking at the launch of Victoria University’s Courts and Tribunals Academy in Melbourne, Chief Justice Warren said the new academy – the only one of its kind in Australia – will address crucial knowledge gaps.

“Many (officials) do not understand what goes on in courtrooms beyond perhaps, the misinformation they receive from (television) programs such as Suits, Boston Legal and – heaven help us – Judge Judy,” Chief Justice Warren said.

“I see an opportunity for the education of those who interact with the courts, who need to know what we do.”

Based at Victoria University’s Sir Zelman Cowen Centre in the heart of Melbourne’s legal precinct, the Academy will work with courts and tribunals across Australia to improve the way they are administered and managed.

The Academy will undertake applied research and hold thought leadership events with influential Australian and international figures.

The director of the Academy, Professor Kathy Laster, said its “cornerstone” would be the graduate diploma in court management.

“Our aim is to also assist in the development and implementation of world’s best management practices within Australian courts and tribunals across all areas of non-judicial work including governance, strategy, people management, IT, finance and risk management,” Professor Laster said.

The graduate diploma will be offered from semester 1, 2016 with staff from Victorian and federal courts and tribunals as well as relevant state and federal departments among potential enrolees.

Chief Justice Warren said the timing of the launch of the Academy is “perfect” with Australia’s courts and tribunals facing a “dramatic increase” in demand and a “commensurate increase in the complexity of the law”.

She said Victoria has already taken a lead in the development of court and tribunal administration by introducing the Court Services Victoria Act 2014.

Before the launch Governor-General Sir Peter Cosgrove delivered the final lecture in the 2015 Sir Zelman Cowen Centre Governors-General Lecture Series.

The Governor-General spoke about the many challenges facing Australia including radicalisation, Indigenous disadvantage, mental health, child abuse, suicide rates in regional and rural areas and made particular note of the “scourge” of family violence.

“So clearly, there are many issues we need to address as a nation. We’re certainly not perfect, but neither are we ignorant of our failings or dismissive of the problems we face,” the Governor-General said.

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