Current Research

Carly Schrever
Carly Schrever

Why research judicial wellbeing?

Legal professions around the world have traditionally been both highly stressful and highly stress denying. The past decade has seen an emergence of quality research into the prevalence and sources of stress among law students and practising lawyers, revealing alarmingly high rates of depression and anxiety across all levels of the profession. 

However, the inquiry has rarely extended to judicial officers. It is important that it does.  As senior members of a stress-prone profession, managing workloads bordering on the oppressive, in the context of professional isolation, intense scrutiny, and often highly traumatic material, there is good reason to expect that judicial officers are at particular risk of work-related stress. Given the impact of judicial decisions in people’s lives, and the pivotal role they play in our democratic system, courts arguably have a duty, not only to individual judges but to the community more generally, to investigate and promote judicial wellbeing.

Current judicial wellbeing research

The Judicial College of Victoria is recognised as a world leader among judicial educators in developing programs and resources to promote judicial wellbeing. Beginning with the landmark ‘Court Craft: 360 Degree Feedback’ program, which addressed the fundamental psychological need for honest and constructive feedback, and continuing with programs on judicial leadership, mindfulness, stress, and resilience, the College has long recognised it’s role in supporting judicial officers to meet the uncommon pressures and complications of judicial work.

In 2015, the College determined that robust, empirical research was needed to support ongoing work in this area. The College is working collaboratively with a researcher from the University of Melbourne, School of Psychological Sciences to investigate the factors that promote and undermine wellbeing in the judicial environment. An aim of the research project will be to identify, with reference to comparable overseas projects, possible interventions that could be implemented to support judicial officers in their roles.

The research has the support of the Heads of the participating jurisdictions, and other judicial education bodies, including the Australian Institute of Judicial Administration (AIJA). As this research comprises a PhD project, the timeframe is approximately three years from start to completion. The College hopes to be able to present the results and recommendations arising from the research in early 2018.

The researcher 

Carly Schrever
BSci, LLB, MPsych/PhD Candidate
Judicial Wellbeing Project Advisor, Judicial College of Victoria

Carly is a lawyer, provisional clinical psychologist, and PhD candidate. Carly graduated from the University of Melbourne Law School in 2004.  She completed her articles of clerkship at Allens Arthur Robinson (now Allens Linklaters) and was admitted to the legal profession in April 2005. Carly then worked at the Supreme Court of Victoria as Associate to the Honourable Justice David Habersberger, before commencing in the Education Team at the Judicial College of Victoria. While at the College, Carly designed and implemented numerous judicial education programs relating to judicial wellbeing and skills development.

In 2013, Carly completed her Honours level qualification in Psychology at the University of Melbourne. She was awarded the Australian Psychological Society Prize for the highest overall Honour’s marks, and the Dwight Final Assessment Prize for the best thesis. She is currently undertaking her combined Master of Psychology (Clinical) / PhD at the University of Melbourne, in which she is researching the sources and nature of work-related stress among the Australian judiciary. She is a regular presenter at judicial conferences on the topic of judicial stress and wellbeing. In her role as Judicial Wellbeing Project Advisor to the Judicial College of Victoria, Carly is working with the Victorian jurisdictions to develop of a range of judicial wellbeing programs and resources.

If you would like to know more about the judicial wellbeing research project, please email the Judicial Wellbeing Project Advisor



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