TWO new judges have been appointed to Newcastle's newly merged Federal Circuit and Family Court in a bid to reduce the backlog of cases and combat what local practitioners had labelled an "emerging crisis in family law".
Attorney General Michaelia Cash will on Friday announce the appointment of local barristers and experienced family lawyers Vivien Carty and Julie Kearney as the newest judges of the Federal Circuit and Family Court of Australia Newcastle registry.
Ms Carty will replace Judge Janet Terry, who reached the mandatory retirement age of 70 in August, while Ms Kearney has been appointed as an additional judge for Newcastle's busy federal circuit and family court.
The appointments mean there will be a total of five judges based in Newcastle, the highest number ever stationed in the city, the Attorney General's Department said.
"Ms Carty and Ms Kearney have extensive experience in family law and are welcome additions to the Newcastle registry," Senator Cash said in a statement. "On behalf of the Australian government, I thank them for their willingness to serve the people of Australia as judges as the Federal Circuit and Family Court of Australia."
As well as those appointees, the Attorney General said there had been other changes implemented at the Newcastle registry to increase resources, including an additional courtroom and chambers to accommodate the new judge, a new case management system and electronic hearings to increase access to regional areas or vulnerable litigants.
Two new judicial registrars and a deputy registrar were appointed at the Newcastle registry, meaning the number of registrars in the Federal Court at Newcastle jumped from two to seven in the 12 months to mid-September.