A National Curriculum for Australian Judicial Officers

Unit Ten Judicial Leadership


Being a head of jurisdiction and deputy requires high level leadership, administrative and managerial skills. Chief Magistrates, Chief Judges and Chief Justices and deputies must effectively manage internal and external relationships as well as relations with government, the media and the public. They must also foster collegiality within their court and promote fellow judicial officers’ productivity and wellbeing.

Aim of this Unit

The purpose of this unit is to give heads of jurisdiction and deputy heads, the knowledge and skills to be a capable chief justice, chief judge or chief magistrate. 

Application of the Core Dimensions

Substantive and Procedural Law

Programs in this unit may cover any relevant law that heads of jurisdiction should be familiar with.

Judge Craft Skills

Programs in this unit may cover the out-of-court managerial and administrative skills required for being an effective head of jurisdiction as well as maintaining relations with external stakeholders such as government and the media.

Social Context

Programs in this unit may cover the evolving societal expectations of those in high level leadership positions and issues of broad concern that heads of jurisdiction should be aware of and act on.

Attitudes and Values

Programs in this unit might involve judicial officers reflecting on their own leadership styles and the values underpinning them.

Core Judicial Qualities


The courts remain independent of the other branches of government and judicial officers are not subject to improper pressure or influence when making decisions. 10


This requires ‘treating like cases alike; a process which is free from coercion or corruption; ensuring that inequality between the parties does not influence the outcome of the process; adherence to the values of procedural fairness…and unbiased neutral decision making…’ 11


Being patient and respectful, allowing litigants to present their case and ensuring the absence of actual or perceived bias 12


open court principles, annual reports identifying expenditure, rights to appeal, as well as giving reasons, noting the variation in this value for those in leadership roles. 13


Ensuring the reasonably timely resolution of cases. 14


Maintaining an open rather than closed court as far as possible and providing clear and reasoned decisions that are publicly available as far as possible. 15


Having sound knowledge of the relevant law and procedure as well as good court craft skills 16


Displaying intellectual honesty, respect and placing the obligations of judicial office above personal interests both inside and outside the courtroom. 17


Doing justice according to law irrespective of the consequences or popularity of the decision 18


10.1 - Managing a Court as Head of Jurisdiction


The purpose of this program is to provide heads of jurisdiction with the knowledge and skills to effectively manage their court and relations with external stakeholders.


Programs might involve–

  • managerial and administrative skills
  • different leadership and communication styles and being an effective leader
  • inviting reflection on judicial officers’ own leadership styles and where and how to improve 
  • fostering a productive and efficient court
  • promoting and fostering judicial officers’ well being
  • mentoring other judicial officers
  • managing relations with government
  • managing relations with the media and the public at large

10.2 - Power and understanding its impact on an inclusive workplace


The purpose of this program is to consider how and why heads of jurisdiction should foster an inclusive workplace in their court.


Programs in this unit may include–

  • the benefits of a highly inclusive workplace and the disadvantages of a non-inclusive workplace
  • communication and consultation strategies
  • the characteristics of an inclusive leader
  • inclusive leadership strategies and techniques
  • inviting self-reflection on implicit biases that may hinder inclusive leadership
  • strategies for engaging in conversations with colleagues about power imbalances

10.3 - Using power to drive change


These programs develop increased cultural capability in judicial officers, which encompasses cultural awareness, cultural safety and cultural competence, as well as an up-to-date understanding of cultural attachment.


Programs in this unit may cover–

  • planning out change and formulating the ‘how’ and ‘why’ of change
  • communication and consultation strategies
  • balancing the institutional role of a head of jurisdiction with law reform

10.4 - Learning from the experiences of courts overseas


The purpose of this unit is to juxtapose how the Australian judiciary operates with how courts in other countries operate in order to develop better practices, procedures and approaches where appropriate. 


Programs might cover–

  • court management best practices in other jurisdictions