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Newcastle federal magistrate appointed.

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9 June 2000



I am pleased to announce the appointment today of Mr Warren Donald as the first federal magistrate for Newcastle. Mr Donald will take up his appointment on 13 June.

Mr Donald was the Deputy Chief Magistrate for the Northern Territory and has had extensive experience in a variety of jurisdictions including family law, child protection and adoption, adult guardianship, welfare law, mental health, criminal law and criminal injuries and compensation.

Mr Donald’s experience gained him a position as one of 15 Federal Magistrates from a field of more than 550 applicants Australia wide.

The Federal Magistrates Service is the first lower-level federal court. It will provide a cheaper, faster, more efficient method of dealing with less complex civil and family law matters. As well as sitting in Newcastle, Mr Donald will travel throughout the Hunter region and hear cases using video and audio conferencing. He will also be available to sit anywhere in Australia, if the need arises.

The new Service will deal mostly with cases that are currently dealt with in the Family Court. This will mean relatively simple cases

which are sometimes frustrated by delay and expense in the Family Court can be heard at much shorter notice or more cheaply by the Federal Magistrates Service. The new court will help reduce the backlog in the Family Court, allowing judges to deal with more complex cases.

The Service will also be available for litigants in other federal areas of law currently handled by the Federal Court, such as administrative law, bankruptcy, human rights and trade practices.

Examples of the types of cases which might go to the Federal Magistrates Service are:

Couples who cannot decide on arrangements for one of the parents to have contact with their children. The parent could file an application in the Federal Magistrates Service seeking contact.


A tradesperson who wants to bankrupt a customer who has not paid for work done can file a creditor's petition in the Federal Magistrates Service.


A father who wants to have his children live with him can file an application in the Federal Magistrates Service. If the mother of the children agrees to have the matter dealt with by the Service, the Magistrate can decide with whom the children should reside.


A person with a disability who claims to have been unlawfully discriminated against can file an application in the Federal Magistrates Service if the complaint is not successfully resolved by the Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission.


I would like to congratulate Mr Donald on his appointment and welcome him to the Federal Magistrates Service, which is due to

open its doors next month.




Mr Warren Donald

Newcastle Federal Magistrate


Warren Donald is currently Deputy Chief Magistrate for the Northern Territory.

Prior to taking up this appointment in 1998, Mr Donald held office as a Stipendiary Magistrate for about three years. During his time on the bench Mr Donald has travelled extensively throughout the Northern Territory on circuit hearing matters in a wide variety of jurisdictions including family law, child protection and adoption, adult guardianship, welfare law, mental health, criminal law, criminal injuries compensation, coronial inquiries, taxation, commercial disputes, contracts, trade marks and copyright.

Before his appointment as a magistrate in 1995, Mr Donald was a partner in a Canberra law firm for approximately eight years. During this time he established a wide ranging litigation practice, but with a particular emphasis on family law, criminal law and civil litigation.

Prior to entering this partnership, Mr Donald worked as a solicitor and barrister in Canberra gaining experience practising in the areas of family, civil and criminal law.

As Deputy Chief Magistrate, Mr Donald is responsible for the

operations of the Court in the southern two-thirds of the Northern Territory.

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