Published: 01 April, 2022

Media Release: Four new judicial appointments to Division 1 of the Federal Circuit and Family Court of Australia

The Federal Circuit and Family Court of Australia (FCFCOA) is pleased to welcome the following judicial appointments announced today by the Attorney-General for Australia, Senator the Hon Michaelia Cash.

Dr Jacoba Brasch QC, appointed to Division 1 of the FCFCOA, Sydney
Judge Alister McNab, elevated from Division 2 to Division 1 of the FCFCOA, Melbourne
Judge Alice Carter, elevated from Division 2 to Division 1 of the FCFCOA, Melbourne
Judge Bruce Smith, elevated from Division 2 to Division 1 of the FCFCOA, Newcastle

The Chief Justice of the Federal Circuit and Family Court of Australia, the Hon Will Alstergren said that he was delighted with the appointment of such distinguished and highly skilled judicial officers and barrister.

“The Court welcomes the elevation of three Division 2 judges who have demonstrated outstanding skills during their time on the bench, which followed very successful earlier careers as barristers.

“The appointment of Dr Jacoba Brasch QC is a significant appointment for the Court. Dr Brasch has enjoyed an exceptional career as a family law barrister, and is held in the greatest esteem by her peers across the nation.

“These appointments, together with the announcement this week that the Courts are to receive $63.8 million of additional resources, will enhance the ability of the Courts to reduce delays and respond to family violence and other risks to vulnerable parties and children.

“Critically, it will also aid the Courts in improving safety outcomes for children and litigants involved in family law disputes, together with enhancing the Courts’ support for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander families.”

The Courts are also pleased that the national legal aid commissions have received funding that will allow them to assist the Courts with these important initiatives, and support the most vulnerable litigants in the family law system.

The Courts are anticipating, and look forward to, further appointments to be made to Division 2.

Biographical details:

Dr Jacoba Brasch QC

Dr Jacoba Brasch QC is appointed to Division 1 of the Court in the Sydney registry. Dr Brasch took silk in 2014 having first signed the Bar Roll in 2000. Dr Brasch holds a PhD from the Law Faculty of the University of New South Wales since 2011, and she also attended the New York University School of Law as a Fulbright Scholar and NYU Graduate Merit Scholar studying, among other topics, comparative family law. Dr Brasch served as the President of the Law Council of Australia in 2021, and between 2018 – 2020, served as the Inaugural Chair of the National Family Law Committee of the Australian Bar Association. 

Judge Alister McNab - MELBOURNE

Judge Alister McNab was appointed to the (then) Federal Circuit Court of Australia in May 2016.  Judge McNab joins Division 1 after sitting for nearly seven years in the Melbourne and Dandenong registries and after two years in the role of Case Management Judge of the Melbourne registry. Prior to his appointment, Judge McNab was a member of the Victorian Bar for over 26 years. His Honour holds a Bachelor or Laws and a Bachelor of Arts from Monash University.

Judge Alice Carter - MELBOURNE

Appointed to the (then) Federal Circuit Court of Australia in 2019, Judge Alice Carter has now been elevated to Division 1, filling the vacancy arising from the appointment of Justice Timothy McEvoy to the Federal Court of Australia. Prior to her appointment, Judge Carter practised exclusively in the family law jurisdiction at the Victorian Bar, having signed the Bar Roll in 2006. Judge Carter holds a Bachelor of Arts and a Bachelor of Laws from Monash University. Her Honour was formerly an Associate to the Hon. Joseph Kay AM.

Judge Bruce Smith - NEWCASTLE

Judge Bruce Smith was appointed to the (then) Federal Circuit Court of Australia in June 2018. Since joining the Court, Judge Smith has sat exclusively in the family law jurisdiction, determining a full range of parenting and property proceedings. Prior to his appointment, Judge Smith was a barrister practising at the New South Wales Bar for 20 years. Judge Smith holds a Bachelor of Commerce and a Bachelor of Laws from the University of New South Wales and also a Master of Laws from the University of Sydney.  Judge Smith is appointed to the Newcastle Registry, replacing the Hon. Justice Margaret Cleary who will be retiring in August of this year.