Keynote – How FDR/ADR is integral to the individual, the community and the Administration of Justice


Judge Joe Harman
Thursday November 22 2018

Time: 9:40am – 10:20am

Room: Kuranda Ballroom

Keynote Address

How FDR/ADR is integral to the individual, the community and the Administration of Justice

2018 has been a tumultuous year for discussion of reform of family law.  In addition to the ALRC Inquiry chaired by Professor Rhodes there has been vigorous political and media discussion of the future structure of the Courts and a “Single Entry Point”.

The benefits to the individual and the community of facilitative models of dispute resolution are widely recognised.  But to what extent are FDR and ADR actively promoted and utilised? What are the costs to the individual, the community and the overall administration of justice of a less than complete embrace and engagement with FDR/ADR?

This address will focus upon the integral role of FDR, and ADR more generally, in providing both an alternative to adversarial litigation and in complementing and alleviating the work of the Courts.  Drawing upon research data challenging the extent to which the “cultural shift” hoped for from the introduction of “compulsory” FDR has been attained, this address will consider the extent to which the Courts and the FDR/ADR sectors have engaged with each other and how a genuine “single entry point” might recognise and advance FDR/ADR as real choices for the individual and the community and, as a collateral benefit, ease the burden upon Courts and so as to allow Courts to better dispense justice.

Ultimately, when the family is recognised as the fundamental unit of society, the importance of strengthening and preserving families and co-parenting relationships is too important to allow the benefits of FDR and ADR to be other than fully achieved.

Watch the full Keynote below:


Judge Harman was appointed to the Federal Circuit Court of Australia in June 2010.

Prior to joining the Court, Judge Harman had, for over 25 years, worked in private practice as a lawyer and as a mediator/FDRP in private and community (FRC) practice. Judge Harman has also lectured in family law at the University of Western Sydney and Sydney University.

Judge Harman received a NSW Premier’s Stop Domestic Violence award in 2005, was a finalist for the National Children’s Lawyer of the Year Award in 2010, a finalist for the Australian Human Rights Commission Law Award in 2013 and in 2015 received a Resolution Institute award for promotion of excellence in dispute resolution. Judge Harman is presently enrolled in the PhD program at Bond University researching the impact of confidentiality upon obtaining and presenting evidence of family violence.

Outside of practice, for many years Judge Harman was involved in community radio presenting programs on legal issues as well as a long running children’s program “Dream Time.”