A National Curriculum for Australian Judicial Officers

Unit Twelve Judicial Life and Quest for Enduring Purpose


A strong sense of purpose is crucial for a successful and fulfilling career on the bench and for life after the bench. Consideration of judicial officers’ own enduring purpose as well as the purpose and function of the judiciary more broadly enhances judicial officers’ sense of purpose.

Aim of this Unit

This unit allows judicial officers to reflect on and reinforce for themselves why they became judicial officers and to consider how advancements in science and technology might affect, positively or negatively, the judicial function. 

Application of the Core Dimensions

Substantive and Procedural Law

Programs in this unit might cover legal developments in response to emerging advancements in technology and science.

Judge Craft Skills

Programs in this unit might involve reflection on how judicial officers’ in court and out of court conduct contributes to their legacy

Social Context

Programs in this unit may cover advancements in science and technology that may be involved in litigation.

Attitudes and Values

Programs in this unit may wish to include reflection on how judicial officers’ own attitudes and values shape their sense of purpose in their role and how that sense of purpose can be strengthened.

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


12.1 - Preparing for life after the bench


These programs cover planning for and finding a sense of purpose in life after the bench. 


Programs might cover–

  • ethical issues involved in re-entering private practice or other roles
  • effective retirement planning
  • enduring purpose and life after the bench

12.2 - Understanding and building legacy


These programs invite judicial officers to consider how they want to be remembered after they leave the bench and how they might foster their legacy.


Programs might cover–

  • what kind of judge you want to be;
  • mentoring those around you for the benefit of the administration of justice

12.3 - Justice under pressure


These programs invite judicial officers to reflect on past and/or present pressures on judicial independence and the rule of law and how the judiciary might respond to such pressures. 


Programs may consider–

  • Historical examples of where the judiciary came under threat and the responses of the judiciary
  • the appropriate standards by which the judiciary’s response to threats to its independence should be measured

12.4 - A delicate balance – navigating the laneway of the judicial function


These programs invite judicial officers to reflect on how to balance elements of the judicial function – independence, impartiality, and so on – with scientific, technological or other advancements that may impinge upon (or perhaps enhance) the judicial function and which judges may be called to adjudicate upon.


Programs might encompass–

  • Neuroscience, human behaviour and sentencing
  • Automated decision making and the judicial function
  • Bioscience, the law and the judicial function
  • Genetic technology and the law