The Lighthouse Project is an innovative approach being taken by the Family Court of Australia and Federal Circuit Court of Australia, that screens for risk with a primary focus of improving outcomes for families involved in the family law system.
The trial will initially be piloted in Adelaide, Brisbane and Parramatta. It is the Courts’ goal however, to secure additional funding to enable the project to be expanded nationally on an ongoing basis.
The program will involves:
- Early Risk Screening: Parties filing parenting only orders will be asked to complete a secure, confidential questionnaire known as the Family DOORS Triage. Responses are confidential and used only to assist for risk screening.
- Early Identification & Management of Safety Concerns
- Assessment & Triage of Cases: cases will be assessed and directed into the most appropriate case management pathway based on the level of risk. This is done by a team 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.
- Evatt List: All cases identified as high risk will be referred to a dedicated court list. The Evatt List focusses on early information gathering and intervention through an experienced and specially trained, judge-led support team.
Family violence is a community problem. In Australia, one woman a week, one man a month and one child a fortnight are killed at the hands of an intimate partner or family member every year.
The Lighthouse Project aims to improve the safety of litigants who may have experienced family violence and children who may have experienced associated risks such as child abuse.
The Lighthouse Project is part of the courts modernisation plan, and this new system has also been developed to clear the Courts’ backlog of cases and expedite outcomes for matters. The Project will identify and push suitable matters to alternate dispute resolution. The ADR process is quicker and less costly than settling in court, allows for more efficient solutions and is more informal which is often more comfortable for parties to family law matters.
Gowland Legal welcomes the Lighthouse Project and the Court’s goal to improve access to safety for women and children through the legal system.