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 Chris Kourakis (Chair)
The Honourable Chris Kourakis was appointed as Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of South Australia on 25 June 2012. His Honour is recognised as one Australia’s leading law reformers in the area of civil litigation processes and the modernisation of court infrastructure, enabling more efficient and accessible administration of justice for all court users. His Honour was admitted to practice in 1982 and worked at the Legal Services Commission for several years then at a suburban practice before going to the Bar in 1989. His Honour was a Legal Services Commissioner from 1993-1997, and took silk in 1997. His Honour was President of the Law Society in 2001 before being appointed as Solicitor-General for the State of South Australia in 2003. His Honour was appointed to the bench of the Supreme Court of South Australia in 2008. His Honour has been a National Patron of the Hellenic Australian Lawyers Association since 2014 and conferred a Degree of Doctor of Laws honoris causa by Flinders University in April 2015.
Ms Munya Andrews
Munya Andrews is the most senior Indigenous barrister at the Victorian Bar who practices in criminal and civil law. A former legal academic, she has taught law at the University of Melbourne and the Southern Cross University in Lismore on legal issues impacting Indigenous peoples. A Bardi woman from the Kimberley region of Western Australia, she is well versed in traditional laws, customs and practices. Munya has run many cross-cultural workshops for the legal profession, including for the judiciary, on Indigenous legal issues, racism and gender bias in the law. She is passionate about equal rights for everyone and the fair administration of justice.
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.
Justice Helen Bowskill
Justice Bowskill was appointed to the Supreme Court of Queensland on 10 July 2017. Her Honour previously served as a Judge of the District Court of Queensland from November 2014, in that capacity also sitting 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 in November 2013. As a barrister, she practiced widely in public, administrative and commercial law areas, with a particular focus on Native Title law.
Ms Anne Britton
A Principal Member of the NSW Civil and Administrative Tribunal, Anne is a member of NCAT’s Appeal Panel and Guardianship, Occupational, Administrative and Equal Opportunity divisions. For two decades Anne has held senior roles in State and Commonwealth Tribunals, including as a Senior Member of the Administrative Appeals Tribunal, Deputy President of the NSW Administrative Decisions Tribunal and Chairperson of the Government and Related Employees Appeal Tribunal. Anne taught in the Masters’ program at UNSW Law School and has significant experience in governance roles, including as a former director of the NSW Legal Aid Commission and the Communications Law Centre. Anne is the Chair of the Council of Australasian Tribunals (National).
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.
Ms Lillian Lesueur
Lillian Lesueur has been Chief Executive Officer at the National Judicial College of Australia since September 2016. She has extensive experience working with not-for-profit organisations involved with providing high quality educational program for both employees and senior school students. Prior to taking up her appointment with the College, Lillian was Executive Director of Australian Science Innovations, a not for profit organisation providing extension programs for high achieving secondary science students. Earlier in her career she was General Manager, ACT Region for the Australian Institute of Management, responsible for developing and delivering programs for managers and leaders in the ACT. Lillian has a degree in economics, a Diploma of Education, and a Master of Business Administration from the Australian Graduate School of Management. She is also a graduate of the Company Directors course delivered by Australian Institute of Company Directors.
Judge Nick Nicholls
Judge Nicholls was appointed to the Federal Circuit Court in 2004. He has previously worked for the Australian government, including service overseas, and in private legal practice. He is currently chair of the Federal Circuit Court’s Cultural and Linguistic Diversity committee.
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.
Chief Judge Kevin Sleight
Chief Judge Kevin Sleight graduated with a Bachelor of Laws from the University of Western Australia in 1973. In 1975, he was admitted as a legal practitioner. His Honour was a partner in the firm of Mayberry Hammond & Co in Northam from 1980. His Honour was appointed as a Judge of the District Court of Western Australia in January 2005. Between 2011 and 2014 his Honour served as an acting Supreme Court Judge (a Commissioner) for a total of 22 months. On 20 April 2015, his Honour was appointed the Chief Judge of the District Court of Western Australia.
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.
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.