The Lighthouse Project is an initiative of the Family Court of Australia and the Federal Circuit Court of Australia (“the Courts”) to better protect parties and children involved in family law proceedings who are experiencing family violence and/or other safety risks.
How does it work?
The Lighthouse Project involves the following process:
When a party files an Initiating Application or Response seeking parenting orders only, they will be asked to complete an online questionnaire. They will be emailed a link and a unique code to access the questionnaire.
The questionnaire deals with a range of safety risks, including family violence, mental health issues and drug or alcohol misuse. The questions require ‘yes’ or ‘no’ answers only and takes approximately 10 to 15 minutes to answer. The answers are confidential and cannot be used as evidence in family law proceedings.1
- Triage and Case Pathways
A team comprising of Registrars, family counsellors and support staff will assess the answers to the questionnaire and triage cases into the most appropriate case management pathway depending on the level of risk. There are three different case management pathways, namely: red (high risk); amber (medium risk); or green (low risk).
- Case Management
If the case is assessed as a “red” or high risk case, it will be referred to a family counsellor who will conduct a risk assessment and provide safety plans and referral services. The case may then be referred to a Registrar to be placed in the Evatt List.
The Evatt List is a specialised case list which seeks to assist families who are at high risk of family violence and other safety concerns. It seeks to do this through more intensive case management and resources. It is managed by a team of Judges, Registrars, Family Consultants and court staff.
If the case is assessed as an “amber” or medium risk case, it will be considered for a range of case management options and directed to the most suitable one. The parties will be offered safety planning and referral services.
If the case is assessed as a “green” or low risk case, it may be referred to Family Dispute Resolution (if suitable). This provides parties with the opportunity to resolve their dispute without having to go through the Court system, which can be costly and time-consuming.
The Lighthouse Project will be initially piloted in the Adelaide, Brisbane and Parramatta registries. However, it is hoped that additional funding will be secured to enable The Lighthouse Project to be expanded nationally and on an ongoing basis.
For more information about The Lighthouse Project visit http://www.federalcircuitcourt.gov.au/wps/wcm/connect/fccweb/family-law-matters/family-violence/lighthouse-project/
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