Program Development

The College programs are developed using adult learning principles; this means the programs are highly interactive and engaging for participants.  The programs are designed to provide participants with practical skills and knowledge and this is achieved through structured small group discussion and hands-on practical exercises relevant to the program topics.  With the focus being on interactive learning rather than lectures this means that most College programs are suitable for  25 to 30 participants.  When developing a new program College staff work with program planning committees made up of judges (many of whom have completed a Facilitation Skills training program) to develop content and organise program presenters.  Program presenters include experienced judges and subject matter experts from academia and industry.

The Programs Advisory Committee of the College and individual program planning committees routinely review and revise College programs based on the written feedback received from participants at the conclusion of each program. The College develops new programs from proposals made by judicial officers, by program planning committees, and by government agencies.

Flagship Programs

Programs such as the National Judicial Orientation Program (NJOP- presented with the support of the NSW Judicial Commission, and the Australasian Institute of Judicial Administration) and the Phoenix Magistrates’ Program are now a fixture in the National Judicial Education Calendar, and also attract participants from overseas.

Conferences 

The College also offers a limited number of larger conferences. These cater for a multi-disciplinary audience of judicial officers, academics, government officers, legal practitioners and others with an interest in learning about the latest research and developments in fields relevant to the work of the courts. The ‘Managing People in Court’ Conference presented in Canberra at the Australian National University in February 2013, is an example of this kind of event.

Who is eligible?

Judges and magistrates from all courts in Australia are eligible to attend College programs. Some programs are limited to particular categories of the judiciary (for example orientation programs are limited to recent appointees).

The College offers the following programs:

*Note: Programs are offered according to demand.  Please contact the Secretariat for further information.  

Communicating from the Bench

This module has been designed to assist judicial officers to communicate more effectively in court when delivering sentencing remarks. The session is very practical and interactive with participants working with professional actors to refine their delivery techniques and skills. Key learning objectives from this program include being able to: 

  • determine when to adjourn sentencing to a future date
  • identify issues associated with a poor oral delivery
  • structure the sentencing remarks so that they are successful.

Coroners On-Line

The online Coroners program is offered over 6 weeks, participants work at their own pace and available time.  An approximate time commitment is 1.5 hours per week. The online social learning nature of this program provides many opportunities for partcipants to interact and share questions, comments, ideas and experiences.  Participants can access the program via desktop computer, laptop, ipad or mobile phone.  

The program objectives are to better equip coroners to:

  • identify reportable deaths
  • make targeted autopsy decisions
  • decide confidently whether or not to hold an inquest and how to manage an inquest more effectively 

Dialogues on Being a Judge Program

This program has been developed specifically for experienced judges in mid-career, to give them an opportunity to examine their approach to their work through the exploration of four key themes: 

  1. Being a Judge – is an exploration of the obligations and challenges faced by judicial officers and the fundamental principles governing the performance of the judicial function.
  2. The Impact of Developments in Neurobiological Research on Judging  aims to provide judges with new information about rapidly developing scientific research which illuminates practical difficulties encountered in judging in areas such as giving evidence, (including children’s evidence), and the effect of cognitive impairment on witnesses, practitioners and potentially judges themselves 
  3. Media/Social Media and its Influence on the Judiciary aims to expand participants’ awareness of the potential for new media to influence current law and practice. 
  4. Decision-Making in the Twenty -First Century – this explores the demographic composition of 21st century Australia, particularly focusing on future trends and how these will affect the cases and people that will appear before the courts.

 Facilitation Skills

The Facilitation Skills Program aims to provide participants with:

  • A  knowledge of adult learning principles and learning styles;
  • the skills to develop short interactive sessions and programs;
  • effective facilitation skills to engage participants in program sessions (e.g. small group work, pair work, role plays, debriefing and questioning techniques, managing group dynamics); and
  • effective chairperson skills. 

Judgment Writing

The objective of the Judgment Writing program is to enable participants to improve their judgment writing skills through analysis, discussion and rewriting of their judgments in small groups along with individual feedback sessions.

Jury Management

The purpose of this program is to identify and record the best ways of dealing with the many practical issues connected with managing a jury in the course of a jury trial.  These include:

  • Communicating effectively with juries;
  • effective post empanelment communication;
  • dealing with issues during the trial;
  • effectively delivering the charge;and
  • dealing with longer jury trials.

Leadership Program for Heads of Specialist Courts

The aim of the Program is to assist participating heads of jurisdiction to:

  • Examine their own leadership style;
  • consider their impact as leader on their court;
  • identify how as leaders they can have the most effective impact on their court; and
  • identify organisational design options that will benefit their court.

National Judicial Orientation Program

This five day program is a joint offering by the College, the Judicial Commission of New South Wales and the Australasian Institute of Judicial Administration. The main educational objective for the National Judicial Orientation Program is to assist newly appointed judicial officers with the transition to judicial office, with a particular focus on skills required of a trial judge.  The program covers topics such as:

  • Judicial conduct and ethics;
  • assessing the credibility of witnesses;
  • psychological and physical health;
  • judgment writing;
  • court craft;
  • interpreters;
  • litigants in person;
  • sentencing; and
  • time management.

Phoenix Magistrates’ Program 

This Phoenix program offers five days of professional development for both recently appointed magistrates, and those who are longer serving magistrates.  The program has a strong emphasis on using the knowledge and skills of people who are familiar with the challenges inherent in the work of a magistrate, and covers a diverse range of topics including:

  • Judicial conduct and ethics;
  • decision making and giving judgment;
  • children as witnesses;
  • court craft;
  • sentencing;
  • cultural awareness;and
  • physical and mental health. 

Solution Focused Judging

This program has been designed for judicial officers who work in designated problem solving courts or programs.  The program aims to assist judges and magistrates in mainstream courts who may wish to use problem solving techniques.  Sessions in the program include:

  • the application of solution focused judging techniques using therapeutic jurisprudence theory
  • applying communication skills appropriate to solution focused judging
  • managing offenders on the basis of an understanding of the stages of behavioural change
  • deciding when it is or is not appropriate to apply solution focused judging techniques and applying  these techniques within ethical and other boundaries. 

Witness Assessment

Sessions in the program aim to enable judicial officers to :

  • make an informed assessment of  witness reliability and credibility
  • deliver clear and persuasive reasons for accepting or rejecting witness testimony 
  • deliver clear jury directions about evaluating a witness. 

360 Degree Feedback

The aim of the program is to provide judicial officers with the opportunity to improve their communication skills through a professionally conducted feedback program. The program comprises of a  degree feedback survey of  colleagues and practitioners and a communication skills workshop.