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.
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.
Cultural Diversity Advocates are judicial officers or tribunal members who have been nominated by their head of jurisdiction to be responsible for issues relating to cultural and linguistic diversity and access to justice in their jurisdiction.
Cultural Diversity Justice Network is the formal network of Cultural Diversity Advocates across Australia, with a focus on providing advice and assist in the development of resources related to the work of the JCCD. For further information visit cdjn.org.au.
Migration Council Australia provides secretariat support for the Judicial Council on Cultural Diversity and the Cultural Diversity Justice Network. 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.
Judge Karl Blake
Judge Blake was appointed to the Federal Circuit Court of Australia on 30 January 2019.
Prior to his appointment, Judge Blake was a Partner in large law firms where he practised in the areas of Employment, Discrimination, Workplace Safety and Industrial Law.
His Honour was consistently recognised as a leading practitioner in these areas. He was considered to be a pre-eminent practitioner in Australia by Asia-Pacific Legal 500 in the area of Employment Law. He was year after year recognised as a leading practitioner by Best Lawyers and Doyle’s Guide.
Since his appointment, Judge Blake hears cases across the jurisdictions of the Federal Circuit Court including employment disputes, migration, family law, bankruptcy and administrative law.
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”.
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).
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 Sue Duncombe
Sue Duncombe was appointed to the Local Court of NSW in January 2010. She was appointed to the Children’s Court of NSW in September 2010 and has maintained that appointment since. Magistrate Duncombe was instrumental in the establishment of the first Youth Koori Court in NSW in February 2015 (pilot). She presides over that court on average each Friday at Parramatta Children’s Court. Prior to her judicial appointment Magistrate Duncombe was a foundation director of the Mawul Rom project, a cross cultural leadership, mediation and conflict resolution program working closely with, and learning from, Elders and respected people in North East Arnhem Land. In addition, Magistrate Duncombe has served as a member of the Ngara Yura Committee of the Judicial Commission of NSW since 2014.
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.
Alison is the Executive Director of the Australasian Institute of Judicial Administration (AIJA). The principal objectives of the AIJA include 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. With an Arts/Law degree from The University of Sydney, Alison began her career as a solicitor and then for over 25 years has held executive roles with a variety of professional associations including The Law Society of NSW; The Law Society of England & Wales; and Chartered Accountants Australia and New Zealand, where most recently she held the position of NSW Regional Manager. She has also worked in senior marketing positions in law and accounting firms. Since 2014, Alison has been a member of the New South Wales Professional Services Panel for the Winston Churchill Memorial trust.
Associate Judge Verity McWilliam
Associate Judge Verity McWilliam was sworn in as the Associate Judge of the Supreme Court of the Australian Capital Territory on 26 June 2017. Her Honour was admitted as a solicitor to the Supreme Court of New South Wales in 2002, and interspersed with her employment as a solicitor, she served as the Associate to Justice Finn in the Appeal Division of the Family Court of Australia, and Justice Beaumont and Justice Madgwick in the Federal Court of Australia. Her Honour was called to the NSW bar in 2006, where she developed a diverse practice across the areas of commercial/equity, criminal, employment, environmental/planning, public law and torts. Her Honour also lectured variously in public law, federal constitutional law and litigation at the University of NSW from 2010 until 2017, and in public law at the University of Sydney from 2010 to 2012.
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.
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.
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 and linguistic diversity in Australia’s judicial system, including but not limited to:|
|(b)||develop and provide independent advice on protocols, best practice guidelines and proposals for dealing with cultural and linguistic diversity-related issues in Australian courts and tribunals, for consideration by the Council of Chief Justices;|
|(c)||develop practical tools addressing cultural and linguistic diversity-related issues that can be adopted by Australian courts and tribunals;|
|(d)||engage in two-way communication with the Cultural Diversity Justice Network regarding implementation of initiatives to improve access to justice for people from Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander and migrant and refugee communities;|
|(e)||advocate to Australian Governments for greater funding and resources for courts and tribunals in relation to cultural and linguistic diversity-related issues; and|
|(f)||consult with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities and multicultural communities.|