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  • Writer's pictureKatrina Favre

The Lighthouse Project

There are hundreds, if not thousands, of families applying to the Family Court of Australia and Federal Circuit Court of Australia for assistance each year. Many cases are often characterized by various forms of violence and abuse. Mothers, fathers and children who are the victims of family violence are particularly vulnerable in the Family Law System. To minimize the impacts of litigation in the Federal Circuit Court and Family Court of Australia and to provide protection and assistance to vulnerable parties, “The Lighthouse Project” has been introduced to help address safety risks and concerns for families experiencing violence and abuse. For the definition of family violence, see section 4AA of the Family Law Act 1975.

What is The Lighthouse Project?

The Lighthouse Project will perform an integral role within the Courts’ response and approach to cases which may involve family violence by providing a more efficient allocation of resources and directing attention to cases of urgency. It will improve the safety of litigants who may have experienced family violence and children who may have experienced associated risks such as child abuse.

To achieve its objectives, the Lighthouse Project introduces the following initiatives:

  1. Early risk screening through a secure online platform.

  2. Early identification and management of safety concerns.

  3. Assessment and triage of cases by a specialised team, who will provide resources and safe and suitable case management.

  4. Referring high-risk cases to a dedicated court list, known as the Evatt List in the Federal Circuit Court of Australia.

What is the Evatt List?

The Evatt List introduces a different form of case management for cases involving high risks to safety. It is a specialist court list developed and designed to assist those families who have been identified through the screening process as being at high risk of family violence and other safety concerns. The support team in the Evatt List is led by a Judge and focuses on early information gathering and intervention. The specialist team comprises of staff members who have experience and received further training to work with families at high risk of family violence.

What if your case does not fall into the Evatt List?

After assessment and triage, certain cases that do not fall into the Evatt List will be docketed to a Judge as per the Federal Circuit Court’s existing case management approach. However, where it is safe to do so, suitable cases will be directed to the National Dispute Resolution Registrar, for either internal or external alternative/family dispute resolution.

Is the Lighthouse Project Available in all Family Courts and Federal Circuit Courts?

The Lighthouse Project is a relatively recent initiative so it will not be available at all Courts. Initially, the Project will be piloted in the Federal Circuit Court of Australia in Adelaide, Brisbane and Parramatta, and later to be extended to the Family Court of Australia.

If you are going through a family law property settlement or parenting dispute, and you have concerns for your safety, it is recommended that you seek legal advice and assistance. Please do not hesitate to contact us if you require legal support, advice, and representation.

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