Australia is one of the most culturally and linguistically diverse countries in the world.
In addition to our rich indigenous cultures, Australia is a nation built on migration. Our migration program sources people from more than 200 countries and over one quarter of Australia’s population was born overseas. Over 300 languages, including indigenous languages, are spoken in Australian households.
This diversity has benefited Australia enormously, both in economic and social terms. However, it has also created challenges. One area in which this is evident is the justice system – individuals from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds can experience significant barriers to accessing justice. In order for accessible, equitable and fair justice to be delivered to all, the justice system must recognise, understand and respond to the needs of culturally diverse communities.
The Judicial Council on Cultural Diversity is an advisory body formed to assist Australian courts, judicial officers and administrators to positively respond to our diverse needs, including the particular issues that arise in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities.
The Migration Council Australia provides secretariat support for the Judicial Council on Cultural Diversity. The MCA is an independent non-partisan organisation that undertakes research and policy development on migration, settlement and social cohesion.
The Judicial Council on Cultural Diversity is an initiative of Chief Justice French and endorsed by the Council of Chief Justices of Australia (CCJ).
Its purpose is to develop a framework to support procedural fairness and equality of treatment for all court users – regardless of their race, colour, religion, or national or ethnic origin – and to promote public trust and confidence in Australian courts and the judiciary.
The Council is composed of members drawn predominately from the judiciary, with select representation from legal and community bodies. Members are selected to balance gender and court level.
Council members are nominated by members of the Council of Chief Justices and appointed for two-year terms. The Council reports to the CCJ and provides policy advice and recommendations to the CCJ for approval.
Chief Justice Wayne Martin (Chair)
Appointed Chief Justice of Western Australia on 1 May 2006, the Hon Wayne Martin AC has had extensive involvement in law reform and access to justice issues throughout his career. His Honour served as Chairman of the Law Reform Commission of Western Australia from 1996-2001, where he oversaw a far-reaching review of the Western Australian criminal and civil justice system. His Honour also served as President of the WA Bar Association from 1996-1999, President of the Law Society in 2006 and Director of the Law Council of Australia in 2006. His Honour was appointed Queen’s Counsel in 1993. On 11 June 2012, His Honour was appointed a Companion of the Order of Australia in recognition of his service to the judiciary and to the law, particularly in legal reform and education.
Justice David Berman
Justice Berman was appointed to the Family Court of Australia on 18 July 2013. Prior to this, His Honour practised as a barrister in the area of family law and de facto relationships. Justice Berman was appointed Senior Counsel in 2010.
Justice Jenny Blokland
Justice Blokland was appointed to the Supreme Court of the Northern Territory on 9 April 2010. Her Honour previously served as a Magistrate in the Northern Territory from 2002-2006 and Chief Magistrate from 2006-2010. Justice Blokland has also previously practised in criminal law and family law with the North Australian Aboriginal Legal Aid Service and the Australian Legal Aid Office and was General Counsel to the Director of Public Prosecutions (NT). She was formerly a legal academic and Dean of the Northern Territory University (now Charles Darwin University) law school. She is co-author of the text “Criminal Laws, Northern Territory”.
Dr Bernadette Boss
Dr Boss was appointed as a Magistrate and Coroner of the ACT Magistrates Court on 11 June 2012. She is also the current Galambany Court (circle sentencing Court) magistrate. Her Honour holds a PhD in international humanitarian law and human rights law from the University of Sydney. She has practiced as a barrister in England and Wales, as well as in Australia. Magistrate Boss has also served as a Legal Officer with the Australian Regular Army and as a general service officer with the Army Reserve. Her Honour has experience in a range of areas including criminal law, family law, common law, military law and administrative law.
Judge Helen Bowskill
Helen Bowskill QC was appointed a Judge of the District Court of Queensland in November 2014. She also holds commissions as a Judge of the Children’s Court of Queensland and the Planning and Environment Court. Her Honour served as the Associate to the Honourable Justice Drummond of the Federal Court of Australia in 1996, and completed articles of clerkship with Minter Ellison in 1997. Her Honour was admitted as a solicitor in January 1998, and as a barrister in July 1998. She commenced practice at the private Bar in Brisbane in July 1998. Her Honour took silk on 14 November 2013. As a barrister, she practised widely in public, administrative and commercial law areas, with a particular focus on Native Title law. She also participated in the Bar Association’s Indigenous Students’ mentoring scheme, and was a member of several professional bodies. .
Mr Nigel Browne
Nigel Browne is a Larrakia and Wulna man. He is CEO of the Larrakia Development Corporation. Professional roles include Crown Prosecutor (ODPPNT), Aboriginal Lands (SFNT), and Policy Adviser (Chief Minister’s Office). He has held board positions with the North Australian Aboriginal Justice Agency, Law Society (NT) and Australia Day Council (NT). Nigel serves as a Legal Officer with the Royal Australian Navy Reserve and previously as a Patrolman in NORFORCE with the Army Reserve. He is also a member of the Australian Institute of Company Directors.
Ms Samantha Burchell
Samantha Burchell has been Chief Executive Officer at the Judicial College of Victoria since March 2015. She was acting Chief Executive Officer since June 2014. The College is a learning institution dedicated to providing education to Victoria’s judiciary. Samantha has extensive experience in the Victorian justice sector, including almost eight years as Director of Education at the College. She is an experienced lawyer, having worked in private practice (including as a barrister at the Victorian Bar), in the courts (as a judge’s associate), in policy and law reform, and as an executive of a legal NGO and of a statutory authority. Samantha has a post-graduate management qualification (in organisation dynamics) and a record of leading and managing organisations. She is a current Professional Doctorate candidate.
Ms Maria Dimopoulos
Maria Dimopoulos is a nationally and internationally recognised expert specialising in the intersections of cultural diversity, gender equality and the law. As Managing Director at MyriaD Consultants she has had extensive experience in policy formulation for Government, research for social planning and in community education. Much of Maria’s work has been aimed at promoting and enhancing cultural diversity and gender informed approaches in the ongoing complex legal and political reform processes and in ensuring the meaningful inclusion of diverse voices and perspectives in those reform processes. She also continues to deliver judicial education programs across Australia.
Magistrate Anne Goldsbrough
Anne Goldsbrough has been a Victorian Magistrate since 1996. She has undertaken all areas of the court’s work at a number of Magistrates’ Court locations, including the Children’s Court. Anne was the Supervising Magistrate for Family Violence and Family Law from 2002-2007 and oversaw the development and introduction of the Courts’ specialist Family Violence Court Division. In 2009, Anne was appointed as a Part-Time Law Reform Commissioner for the Australian Law Reform Commission’s inquiry into family violence. She was appointed as the magistrate with responsibility for the Multicultural and Diversity Portfolio in 2011. She contributes regularly to ongoing legal and judicial professional development both inside and outside the court, and to a range of community information and education programs.
Justice Emilios Kyrou
Justice Kyrou was appointed to the Supreme Court of Victoria on 13 May 2008. His Honour was previously a partner at Mallesons Stephen Jaques. Justice Kyrou was the second practising solicitor to be appointed directly to the Supreme Court of Victoria and is the first Greek-born judge to be appointed. His Honour has also authored a partial autobiography that explores his early life as a migrant and the effects of racism.
Ms Leisha Lister
Leisha Lister is the Executive Advisor of the Family Court of Australia where she manages and coordinates the development of policy, research and advice to the Court. Leisha has managed a number of significant projects of the Family Court including the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander research project looking at issues facing Indigenous Australians access to the Family Law Courts and the development of a suite of access and equity plans including the Family Violence Plan, the Indigenous Action Plan and the Multicultural Plan. Leisha also manages the Court’s international programmes. She has previously worked in the areas of community development, HIV/AIDS education, child protection and the prevention of trafficking of women for the purposes of prostitution. She holds qualifications in law, business and applied science.
Justice Lucy McCallum
Justice McCallum was appointed to the Supreme Court of New South Wales on 30 January 2008. Prior to this, Justice McCallum practiced in commercial litigation at Mallesons Stephen Jaques, as a prosecutor in criminal law and at the Bar in New South Wales. Her Honour was appointed Senior Counsel in September 2005.
Justice Melissa Perry
Justice Perry was appointed to the Federal Court of Australia on 23 September 2013. Prior to this appointment, Justice Perry had practiced at the Bar since 1992. In 2004, Her Honour was appointed Queen’s Counsel. Justice Perry has held positions on numerous professional bodies including the Administrative Review Council, the New South Wales Bar Association Human Rights Committee (2010-2013) and Equal Opportunity Committee (2011-2012). Her Honour holds a LL.B (Hons) from the University of Adelaide and a LL.M and PhD in international law from the University of Cambridge.
Professor Greg Reinhardt
Professor Reinhardt is the Executive Director of the Australasian Institute of Judicial Administration. He has held this position since 1997. The AIJA is a research and educational institute that conducts research into judicial administration and the development and conduct of educational programmes for judicial officers, court administrators and members of the legal profession in relation to court administration and judicial systems.
Mr Ernie Schmatt
Ernest Schmatt has been the Chief Executive of the Judicial Commission of New South Wales since 1989. As Chief Executive he is responsible for its operations, which are designed to foster public confidence in the judicial system in New South Wales by providing a program of continuing judicial education, promoting consistency in sentencing and investigating complaints made against judicial officers. Mr Schmatt is also a member of the International Organisation for Judicial Training Executive Committee and its Board of Governors, the Advisory Board of the Commonwealth Judicial Education Institute and the Asia Pacific Judicial Reform Forum Secretariat. He was awarded the Public Service Medal in the 1997 Queen’s Birthday Honours List for service to public sector management and reform, public sector industrial relations and judicial education in New South Wales.
Judge Rauf Soulio
Judge Soulio was appointed to the District Court of South Australia in 2006. His Honour has been the Chair of the Migrant Resource Centre of South Australia since 2003. He was Chair of the Australian Multicultural Council between 2011 and 2014 and in that capacity was a member of the national Access and Equity Inquiry Panel which conducted an inquiry into the availability and accessibility of government services to people from culturally diverse backgrounds. Between 2011 and 2014 he also served as a member of the National Anti-Racism Partnership Strategy. Judge Soulio was previously Deputy Chair of the Australian Multicultural Advisory Council, which provided advice to government on multicultural policy, until the completion of the Advisory Council’s term in 2011.
Judge Josephine Willis
Judge Willis was appointed to the Federal Circuit Court of Australia in February 2009 in Cairns, having been at the Bar for 14 years. Her Honour has chaired a national committee of the Court examining listing practices and work load and now chairs the Court’s Indigenous Access to Justice Committee addressing how the FCC can be more accessible to ATSI litigants throughout Australia. The work of the committee, commissioned by the Chief Judge, led to the FCC entering into a Reconciliation Action Plan with Reconciliation Australia in March 2014, the first Court to do so in Australia. Judge Willis, like all judges in the FCC, has hundreds of matters a year in her docket, sits all around Australia and really enjoys first instance work.
Ms Carla Wilshire
Ms Wilshire is the CEO of the Migration Council Australia (MCA). The MCA was set up to provide independent research and policy advice on migration, settlement and social cohesion. Ms Wilshire has a background in public policy and has worked as public servant and advisor to Government on multicultural affairs. She has a background in tertiary research and policy development.
Justice Helen Wood
Justice Wood was appointed to the Supreme Court of Tasmania on 9 November 2009. Prior to this appointment Her Honour served as a Magistrate, and was the first woman appointed to that role in Tasmania. Previously, Justice Wood practised in criminal law as Crown Counsel with the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions and later in civil litigation as a barrister and solicitor with a Hobart law firm. Her Honour has a longstanding interest in human rights and equal opportunity matters, having served as Chairperson of the Sex Discrimination Tribunal (1996-1999) and the Anti-Discrimination Tribunal (1999-2009).
The Judicial Council on Diversity will:
(a) commission research and undertake public consultation processes on issues relating to cultural diversity in Australia’s judicial system, including but not limited to:
i. interaction between Australia’s culturally and linguistically diverse communities and Australian courts, in Federal and State and Territory jurisdictions, and in areas of criminal, civil and family law
ii. attitudes to Australia’s judicial system among Australia’s culturally and linguistically diverse communities – identifying any areas of concern for Australia’s social cohesion
iii. perceived and actual barriers to justice experienced by Australia’s culturally and linguistically diverse communities
iv. access to interpreting and translating services in Australia’s judicial system
v. experience of Australia’s culturally and linguistically diverse communities as jurors, litigants, or consumers of court information
(b) develop and provide independent advice on protocols, best practice guidelines and proposals for dealing with cultural diversity issues in Australian Courts for consideration by the Council of Chief Justices.
(c) develop practical tools addressing cultural diversity issues that can be independently adopted by Australian Courts.
(d) advocate to Australian Governments for greater funding and resources for courts in relation to cultural diversity issues.
(e) consult with multicultural communities and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities.