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Commencement of the Family Courts Lighthouse project & the FCC Guide for ICLs about their involvement and role in the Evatt list

The Family Court of Australia and Federal Circuit Court of Australia (‘the Courts’) have developed and implementation the Lighthouse Project, an initiative taken by the Courts to screen for risk, with a primary focus on improving outcomes for families.

The recent passage of the Family Law Amendment (Risk Screening Protections) Bill 2020 by Parliament on 9 November 2020 enshrines in legislation the confidentiality of the risk screening process.

The project will be piloted in the Adelaide, Brisbane and Parramatta registries of the Federal Circuit Court of Australia.

Information about the nature of the Pilot, the legislative framework and the Evatt List are set out below.

The Pilot

The Pilot involves three interconnected processes:

  1. Screening: When an Application or Response seeking parenting only orders is filed with the Court, parties will be asked to complete a questionnaire via a confidential and secure platform known as Family DOORS Triage. This has been developed specifically for the Courts and can be completed safely and conveniently from any device, computer, mobile or tablet.
  2. Triage: 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.
  3. Case Management: Cases will be directed into one of three case management streams:
    Evatt List Case Management: A specialist court list developed and designed to assist those families that 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: following triage, certain cases not falling in the Evatt List will be docketed to a judge as per the FCC existing case management approach.
    Alternative Dispute Resolution: following triage and where safe to do so, suitable cases will be directed to the National Dispute Resolution Registrar, for either internal or external ADR/FDR.


Sections 10Q-10W of the Family Law Act 1975 (Cth) protect the confidentiality and inadmissibility of the risk screening information. This means that any information obtained (whether orally or in writing), created, or generated during the risk screening process, including whether or not a party participated in risk screening is:

·        Confidential;

·        Cannot be used as evidence in court (whether or not exercising federal jurisdiction); and

·        Cannot be requested by another party.

This also includes reports prepared, recommendations made or referrals created by a family safety risk screening person i.e. Family Counsellor.

Evatt List

The Evatt List is a specialist court list that focuses on early information gathering and intervention involving active case management. The List aims to minimise the number of court events for litigants to safeguard against family violence and other associated risks. Only Lighthouse proceedings that have been determined as high risk through the triage and risk screening process are eligible and are case managed in this way.

Here is the Federal Circuit Courts Guide about the involvement and role of an Independent Children’s Lawyer (ICL) in the Evatt List: