Innovative Lighthouse Project Launched to Better Support Vulnerable families in Family Law Disputes

The Family Court and Federal Circuit Court of Australia have launched a brand new initiative designed to improve the safety of at-risk families involved in family law disputes.

Launched by Chief Justice Alstergren at the National STOP Domestic Violence conference on the Gold Coast on Thursday 3 December, The Lighthouse Project is a three-part, three-year  $13.5m Government funded program that will be piloted in Adelaide, Brisbane and Parramatta FCC regions.

The Federal Circuit Court of Australia has outlined how the Lighthouse Project will work:

  1. Screening

When an Application or Response for parenting only orders is filed at one of the three pilot registries, parties will be asked to complete a questionnaire via a confidential and secure online platform known as Family DOORS Triage. Developed specifically for the Courts, this can be completed safely and conveniently from any device including a computer, mobile or tablet.
  1. Triage and case pathways

A dedicated, specialised team will assess and direct cases into the most appropriate case management pathway based on the level of risk. The team is made up of highly skilled Registrars, family counsellors and support staff with detailed knowledge in family violence and family safety risks. The team will triage matters and identify parties who may require additional support and safety measures.
  1. Case management

Cases will be directed into one of three case management streams:

Evatt List – This specialist Court list is designed to assist families who have been identified as being at high risk of family violence and other safety concerns. The Evatt List focuses on early information gathering and intervention, through a Judge-led support team. The team has specialised training and is experienced in working with families where high risk safety issues have been identified.

Other case management – low to moderate risk cases will be directed into the usual case management pathway for  Federal Circuit Court casesm with a focus on completing alternative dispute resolution to resolve or narrow the issues in dispute, where appropriate.

Alternative Dispute Resolution – suitable cases will be targeted for court ordered family dispute resolution to assist parties to resolve issues as soon as possible.

Chief Justice Alstergren shared his views in an article with QLS Proctor:

“The level of family violence in our society is a disgrace,” Chief Justice Alstergren said.

“We as a community cannot accept the number of deaths every week, month or year, or the number of people scarred for life physically, or mentally.

“For too long, the process of separation and divorce has been viewed largely as a legal issue. But we know, it is much broader than that. The courts’ innovative Lighthouse Project places significant attention on the health, safety and wellbeing of separating couples.

“As a modern court operating in the family law jurisdiction, our role is in early risk identification and responsiveness to those risks.

Want To Know More About How the Lighthouse Project?

For more information on how the Lighthouse Project may help you, or for any other Family Law issues, please get in touch with Pullos Lawyers via email, or call us in our Gold Coast office on (07) 5526 3646, or our Brisbane office on (07) 3144 1641.