The Federal Circuit Court’s Response to Family Violence: The Lighthouse Project and Evatt List
For over a decade, numerous recommendations have been made seeking changes in the family law system to better address and respond to family violence and other safety risks.
In response to these recommendations and increasing rates of family violence, the Family Court and Federal Circuit Court have introduced the Lighthouse Project which is designed to screen for risk and has a primary focus on improving outcomes for families involved in the family law system.
The Lighthouse Project is initially being piloted in the Federal Circuit Court in Adelaide, Brisbane and Parramatta this year and is scheduled to be extended to the Family Court in 2022. Should the pilot prove to be a success and secure additional funding, it will be rolled out nationally.
When an Application or Response for parenting Orders is filed with the Federal Circuit Court, parties will be asked to complete a questionnaire on a confidential online platform. These questionnaires will only be used for risk screening and to identify suitable case management and cannot be disclosed or used as evidence in court.
Once questionnaires are completed, family counsellors assess the questionnaires and direct cases to the appropriate case management pathway. A highly skilled team consisting of registrars, family consultants and support staff are involved in deciding the most appropriate case management pathway.
If a case is identified as being at high risk of family violence, the matter will be placed on the Evatt List in the Federal Circuit Court. The Evatt List is a specialist court list that 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 involving active case management and aims to minimise the number of court events to protect parties against family violence and other associated risks.
A Lighthouse Proceeding may be allocated to the Evatt List if the following criteria has been met:-
- One or more of the parties has completed the risk screening process
- The matter has been identified as high risk during the triage and risk screening process
- One or more of the parties has participated in a session with a Family Counsellor
- The Evatt List Registrar has reviewed the case and determined it is appropriate for the Evatt List.
If you are experiencing family violence or other safety risks, our family lawyers can assist you.