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Is your family at-risk? 2021 & The Light House Project

Family Violence in Australia

Family violence is a crisis in Australia. Often, women experiencing domestic violence and coercive control are vulnerable around the time of separation and divorce. 1 in 6 women have experienced physical or sexual violence from a partner. Unfortunately, this can happen in the presence of children, with 61% of women having children in their care when this violence occurs.

Is your family at risk?

The Family Court of Australia and Federal Circuit Court of Australia (FCC) deals with resolving issues in families at risk… but is your family at-risk?

Your family could be at-risk if there is:

· child abuse;

· family violence;

· substance abuse;

· mental health issues;

· abduction; and

· threats of harm, safety and wellbeing, and safety at court.

Are you contemplating going to court because of these risks? The FCC in 2021 is piloting a new program that may benefit you and your family.

What can Families Expect from Courts in 2021? Lighthouse Project

2021 we will see a new initiative, the Light House Project designed to benefit families at-risk. It is an innovative approach identifying at risk families early and prioritising their cases.

At Voice Lawyers we assist clients experiencing family violence and at high-risk. We are very interested in how this project will assist our at-risk clients.

Purpose of the Lighthouse Project

Ms Lisa O’Neill, a Registrar of Practice and Procedure in the Family Court and FCC has been the leading force behind the Lighthouse Project. The project collects more information at earlier stages to assist and assess at-risk families before they get to their first court hearing. New systems will address public health issues and provide greater assistance to families. The three main functions of the Lighthouse Project can be broken into: Screening, Triage and Case Management.

1. Screening and Family Door Triage

If you were thinking of applying for parenting only orders, the Project will help you through early risk screening using a confidential online platform called Family DOORS Triage. Importantly, the platform can be accessed securely from computers, mobile or tablets. This is of paramount concern as those at-risk are often at risk of cyber stalking which is known to be a significant factor to safety and may cause detriment to those seeking help. The questionnaire will ask questions around 10 risk areas including family violence, mental health, substance abuse, child abuse and more. This will obtain more information from people while ensuring they are comfortable giving this information.

Family DOORS Triage uses a simple traffic light system to identify the risk level of families.

A red light will indicate that the case is high risk, and the person will be connected for immediate help with a family counsellor.

An amber light will indicate medium risk and these people will be assisted with safety planning and relevant referrals. And to suitable case management pathways based on their individual requirements.

A green light indicated a low level of risk and these families may be referred to court ordered family dispute resolution.

2. Triage

The Lighthouse Project engages with highly skilled teams of Registrars, family counsellors and support staff who have experience and knowledge in family safety risk, directing each family to the best pathway based on the level of risk. The outcome for this project is to provide the much-needed support to at risk individuals at an earlier stage.

3. Case Management & The Evatt List

The Evatt List will establish a specialised case management list catering to families with high risk. High risk families will be managed closely by highly qualified Judge-led provide greater support based on individual needs of the case. The Evatt List will provide earlier intervention supporting families at-risk potentially protecting them from further risk occurring.

Family Safety is a Priority

The Hon Will Alstergren said that, “the safety of children and families is the highest priority for our Courts…”. The Lighthouse Project not only provides resources into these Courts but also enables a greater support system for families at risk.

People often feel uncomfortable sharing experiences that are traumatic, especially when this happens at home. At Voice Lawyers, we find clients sharing information of risk or actual harm that has occurred much later in a Family Law proceedings. We hope and anticipate the Lighthouse Project will give at-risk families some additional support.

If you are contemplating or amid a family separation and would like advice and assistance with property or children’s matter contact our family law team - Kayte Lewis at Voice Lawyers.

Kayte Lewis is director of Voice Lawyers and has a Masters in Law in Dispute Resolution, is a Nationally Accredited Mediator and has over 10 years’ experience in family law.

Make an appointment at

or contact us on:

- p. (02) 9261 1954 to arrange an initial consultation.

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