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Towards Leadership: The Emergence Of Contemporary Court Administration In Australia


Richard Foster


Australian court administration as we know it today emerged in the mid-1980s in response to a range of factors. This paper draws on the wisdom of pioneering court and judicial administrators to explain how the past has shaped contemporary court practices, and to explore the challenges for modern leaders in court administration.

The paper briefly sets out the recent history of court administration, including an examination of practices and roles priorto the beginning of reforms in the 1980s. The paper then chronicles the remarkable role that court administrators haveplayed in responding to the demands of change, and their reinvention as educated and respected managementprofessionals.

Discussion then turns to current court administration and the demands it places on its practitioners in areas including performance measurement, client centered services, financial management, relationships with the judiciary, external relationships and innovation. The subjects covered in this section have been confined to those areas where the author believes the leadership implications are greatest. The paper then looks forward, examining the implications of emerging trends.

Finally, the paper concludes that while the technical management skills demanded of the court administrator are important and should in no way be diminished, reflection on the past, present and emerging future shows that it is an aptitude for the intangible art of leadership that sets apart those who succeed in this role.

While much of this paper is written with the senior court administrator or chief executive in mind, many of its observations and conclusions can be applied to the profession of court administration more generally.

How to Cite: Foster, R., 2013. Towards Leadership: The Emergence Of Contemporary Court Administration In Australia. International Journal for Court Administration, 5(1), pp.4–14. DOI:
Published on 20 Feb 2013.
Peer Reviewed


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