Contemporary Challenges Facing the Australian Judiciary: An Empirical Interruption
52 Pages Posted: 8 Aug 2018 Last revised: 17 Aug 2018
Date Written: July 19, 2018
The structures that regulate and support the Australian judiciary reflect and serve the traditional judicial values of independence, impartiality and the rule of law. Yet modern society places emphasis on an additional range of values that are expected of government and public institutions. These contemporary values include diversity, transparency, accountability and efficiency. Reforms to introduce regulatory and support structures that prioritise and facilitate these values in the judicial arm has proved challenging, sometimes contentious. This article reports on a survey of Australian judicial officers (n=142) from across different jurisdictions. Participants were asked what they considered to be the most pressing challenges that face the various levels of the Australian judiciary, and whether the current regulatory and support environment achieves international best practice. The responses provide a nuanced picture of the state of the modern Australian judiciary as it appears to those within it. The study facilitates an understanding of the degree to which judicial officers are satisfied with the current legal and regulatory framework, and, where they are dissatisfied, the nature of their disquiet. While not seeking to offer complete resolutions to the many issues canvassed, the data and analysis presented in this article serve as an interruption to regulatory and academic studies of the Australia judiciary, with the potential to illuminate and re-orientate the reform conversation in light of the judicial perspective on these various issues.
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