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Population Challenges for the Local Court of New South Wales

  • Research goal: This research study aims to identify and analyse the impact of population change on the Local Court as a basis for informing future decisions about the Court. The key research questions to be addressed are as follows:
    • How has the population of NSW changed in the past, and how is it likely to change over the next 25 years in terms of its size, spatial distribution, components of change, and composition?
    • How will these changes impact on the Local Court in terms of its case workload and need for personnel?
    • What are the historic patterns of appointment and termination, Court size, and age/sex
      distribution of NSW magistrates since 1985; what trends are likely in the future; and what impact will this have on turnover, length of service, and other attributes of the Court?
  • How are we doing this:
    The methodologies include:
    • Analysis of past data on population size, composition, past change and future projections for NSW and its constituent statistical subregions.
    • Analysis of data on people convicted by the local Court for these regions by their demographic characteristics.
    • Preparation of projections of future convictions combining NSW Department of Planning population projections and extrapolated trends in conviction rates.
    • Analysis of data on judicial appointments and terminations (resignation, retirement, removal, and death in office) over the period 1985-2010, with particular regard to age, sex, turnover and length of service.
  • Macquarie University research team:
  • Year: 2011


This project between Assoc. Prof Nick Parr and Prof. Brian Opeskin assesses the impact of population changes on the operation of the New South Wales Local Court.

It documents how the population of NSW has changed, including its growth, spatial distribution, ageing, and cultural diversity, and discusses the implications of projected demographic changes for the Local Court’s workload, structures, processes, personnel, facilities, and subject matter jurisdiction.

The project also examines the changes over time in the magistrate workforce, including patterns of appointment and termination, Court size, and the age-sex distribution of NSW magistrates, and the implications of these patterns for the Local Court’s depth of judicial experience, workforce planning, and facilities planning.

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