The Independent Member for Denison, Andrew Wilkie, called on the Prime Minister to address the shortage of judges in the Federal Circuit Court, which has resulted in long delays in hearing family law and family violence matters.
“There has been a significant decline in the number of judges on the Federal Circuit Court, which primarily deals with family law and family violence matters,” Mr Wilkie said. “At the same time there has been an enormous increase in the number of cases.
“Over about the same period, the number of judges has declined by 6 per cent but the number of family violence cases has increased by over 560 per cent. Indeed the number of Notices of Risk of Family Violence filed in the Court has grown from 1,022 in 2009/10 to 5,811 in 2013/14.
“Logically this means many additional judges are needed. But in reality judge numbers have declined from 62 in 2010/11 to 58, the result being there is now an average of 439 applications for final orders per judge and 507 applications for interim orders per judge.
“Clearly it is not good enough that families have to wait an average of three years to have their case heard when they are often in very dangerous or problematic situations.
“Moreover I am told that judges are struggling to cope with the increased demand and that the situation is taking its toll on them both mentally and physically.
“I call on the Prime Minister to build on the good work that his Government has already done in tackling family violence by ensuring that family law cases are heard and dealt with in a reasonable amount of time.”