During 2019–20, the work of corporate services focused on supporting the evolving needs of judges and staff across all the Courts and Tribunal, while delivering on required efficiencies to meet reduced appropriations.
As expected, a key focus in the second half of 2019–20 was in the delivery of solutions to support the work of the Courts and Tribunal in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
IT moved quickly to effectively shift the business of the Courts to an online model. A number of technical solutions were deployed providing options for judges to attend from the courtroom, from chambers or from their home, providing solutions that enabled the Courts to continue operating during the lockdown period. This involved an upgrade to the Courts’ existing video conferencing platform to provide assurance around its capacity to continue to deliver the majority of its hearings online for the foreseeable future.
During this period, COVID Safe plans were developed and implemented across all Court buildings. Measures were undertaken to ensure that appropriate social distancing protocols were in place across all locations to mitigate the risk of infection to staff and the public.
The People and Culture team moved rapidly to implement a number of support programs to assist staff during this period of increased stress and uncertainty. A significant undertaking was the delivery of resilience training offered to all staff. This training has been extremely important in underpinning our response to the COVID-19 pandemic. The provision of Microsoft Teams-based sessions, utilising the services of an external facilitator, provided the platform to reinforce the key resilience principles with staff. Various mediums for increased staff engagement and interaction were also developed focusing on staff wellbeing.
Investment in IT security, which is seen as particularly critical in an environment increasingly reliant on technology to operate, was increased. Various measures were implemented to enhance the protection of Court information and assets by reducing IT security risks and improving general IT security maturity levels.
There has been a concerted effort during this period to deliver innovative technological solutions to support the work of the Courts and Tribunal. A key achievement has been the delivery of the digital court file in family law, allowing the Court to create and access all court files electronically from any location around the country. Work also continued on consolidating IT systems and amalgamating projects targeted at simplifying the combined court environment to deliver more contemporary practices and efficiency improvements to reduce the cost of delivery.
Several property projects were delivered during the year with a number of other prominent accommodation projects underway.
A detailed report on the delivery of corporate services in 2019–20 is in Part 4 (Management and accountability).
[Signed in hard copy]
Sia Lagos Chief Executive Officer and Principal Registrar Federal Court of Australia