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Updates to AIJA handbook on judicial appointments welcomed

The Australasian Institute of Judicial Administration (AIJA) has updated its handbook on Suggested Criteria for Judicial Appointments; a move which has been welcomed by one legal body association.

user iconLauren Croft 20 February 2024 The Bar
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In September 2015, the AIJA published a short booklet, Suggested Criteria for Judicial Appointments.

The purpose of the booklet was to contribute to and inform public discussion and debate which was taking place at that time. However, given renewed interest in the topic in recent years, the AIJA commissioned Emerita Professor Kathy Mack of Flinders University to review and update the work in 2023.


These updates include updated references to other relevant Commonwealth jurisdictions’ explicit and clearly articulated updated criteria, as well as new content and commentary on the judicial appointment process, including approaches to criteria such as potential character impediments, diversity and merit, decision-making abilities, communication, emotion and emotion management and leadership.

This move, and an increased focus on cultural awareness and diversity in the selection of Australian judges, has been welcomed by the Asian Australian Lawyers Association (AALA).

“Embracing diversity within the judiciary is not merely about representation it is about fostering a judiciary that is sensitive to the needs of a multicultural society,” AALA national vice president Belinda Wong said.

“Judicial diversity brings varied perspectives, lived experiences and insights into the courtroom. It empowers marginalised communities to see themselves reflected among decision makers and instils confidence in the fairness and impartiality of our legal institutions. By promoting both diversity and merit in judicial appointments, as the Australasian Institute of Judicial Administration’s report suggests, we affirm our commitment to upholding the principles of equality before the law.”

“It is heartening that the Australasian Institute of Judicial Administration has recognised that consideration of diversity is an important factor in enabling courts to better address the complex social, cultural and systemic issues that form the context of underlying disputes. AALA stands ready to support and advance initiatives that promote diversity and inclusivity within our judiciary and tribunal appointments.”

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