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Wednesday, 22 August 1984
Page: 199

(Question No. 759)


Senator Colston asked the Attorney-General, upon notice, on 28 March 1984:

(1) What are the essential attributes of Family Court counsellors.

(2) What selection procedures are used in the appointment of these counsellors.

(3) How were these procedures developed and what validity do these procedures have.

(4) Are there any moves to review the selection process for the appointment of Family Court counsellors; if so, what is the nature of this review.


Senator Gareth Evans —The answer to the honourable senator's question is as follows:

(1) The essential qualifications for appointment, transfer or promotion as a court counsellor were prescribed by the Public Service Board in a section 53 Determination of 21 July 1977. A person must comply with the following conditions:

(1) Has qualified for admission or has been admitted to:

(a) a degree of an Australian university; or

(b) a degree or diploma of an Australian college of advanced education; or

(c) an award of an overseas educational institution being an award which, in the opinion of the board, is at least equal in standard to the qualifications specified in (a) or (b) above;

which degree, diploma or award is recognised by the board as appropriate to the duties of the office; or

(2) Has other qualifications which, in the opinion of the board, are appropriate to the duties of the office.

Details of recognised qualifications are set out in Part 5 of the qualifications handbook contained in Volume 6 of the Board's personnel management manual.

Specific selection criteria are used in assessing applicants for positions of Court counsellors. The criteria vary according to the level and nature of the position, but are basically directed towards experience in, and knowledge of, relevant counselling techniques together with appropriate personal attributes.

(2) Standard Australian Public Service selection procedures are used in the recruitment of Court counsellors. A typical process would include advertising a vacant position in the press and the Commonwealth of Australia Gazette as open to persons inside and outside the Australian Public Service; evaluating and short-listing applications; interviewing applicants and collecting reference reports; assessing applicants in terms of the selection criteria; and recommending the appointment, transfer or promotion of the most suitable applicant. In the course of this process, applicants are required to demonstrate their professional competence and their suitability for appointment, transfer or promotion as a Family Court counsellor.

(3) The procedures in (2) above were developed by the Public Service Board and are recognised as valid for the selection of people for appointment, transfer or promotion to positions throughout the Australian Public Service. The selection criteria for individual positions are developed by selection committees and/or staff of the Principal Registry and approved by the Principal Registrar.

(4) The selection criteria used to assess applicants for Court counsellor positions are reviewed whenever a fresh selection exercise is commenced. The Principal Director of Court Counselling is oversighting the development of a set of standard questions for use by selection committees and is also exploring the development of objective measures of counselling skills as a supplement to the interview process.