Commonwealth Budget provides funding to the Court for new judicial appointments and support for migration cases

Federal Circuit and Family Court of Australia

As part of the 2024-25 Federal Government Budget released last night, the Federal Circuit and Family Court of Australia (Division 2) (the Court) has been provided funding to assist with efficiently resolving migration cases.

The measure includes $64.4 million over the next four years for the appointment of four additional Judges and support staff, including Cultural Liaison Officers and staff to assist with the efficient handling of interpreter requests and referrals to pro bono legal assistance. It also includes capital funding that provides for purpose-built court facilities.

Chief Justice Alstergren AO, Chief Judge of the Federal Circuit and Family Court of Australia (Division 2) said that the announcement of additional Judges and other resources is greatly welcomed.

“This funding will enable better access to justice for parties to migration cases, a large proportion of whom are unrepresented and require an interpreter. Approximately 79% of migration applicants are unrepresented and 75% of those require an interpreter, with more than 70 different languages routinely requested.

“The newly created role of Cultural Liaison Officers will provide procedural support and guidance to culturally and linguistically diverse parties. They will be help people to navigate the court process, which ultimately provides for a more efficient court process,” Chief Justice Alstergren added.

Migration represents the second largest area of the Court’s work after family law. Due to unprecedented increases in filing volumes, the Court’s pending migration caseload more than doubled in four years between 2017 and 2021.

Deputy Chief Judge Mercuri, who assists with overseeing the Court’s general federal law areas including migration, said that an additional four Judges will greatly assist the current cohort of Judges to resolve cases.

“The significant increase in the number of migration-related applications to the Court in recent years has led to an unprecedented level of pending cases. The timely appointment of additional Judges will allow the Court to implement measures that focus on getting matters heard sooner, and addressing those pending cases,” Deputy Chief Judge Mercuri added.

The total funding package includes funding for four judges and 29 other staff, including Cultural Liaison Officers, Interpreter Liaison staff, Pro-bono co-ordinators, lawyers, registry staff and support staff.

This funding builds upon funding the Court received in the 2023-24 MYEFO Budget to assist with the migration caseload.

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