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Lighthouse Model – Family Violence Case Management

As part of their commitment to the support, safety, and management of vulnerable parties in Family Law proceedings the Federal Circuit and Family Court of Australia (FCFCOA) has recently introduced the Lighthouse model. Initially piloted in the Adelaide, Brisbane, and Parramatta registries the Lighthouse Model has now been expanded to include all Australian family law registries for parenting, and parenting and financial cases.

The Lighthouse Model plays a central role in matters which may include risk relating to family violence, mental health, drug and alcohol misuse and child abuse and neglect, by reshaping the allocation of resources and urgency given to such cases.

The Lighthouse Model operates as a three-stage process focusing on the identification and management of risk through:

  1. Risk screening: After filing an Initiating Application or a Response to an Initiating Application, parties will be given the opportunity to complete the Lighthouse risk screen via a confidential and secure online platform – Family DOORS Triage. The risk screening will become available to parties within 48 hours and the parties will have up to 10 days to complete the questionnaire. The answers to this questionnaire cannot be used as evidence in your matter and neither the other party nor the presiding judicial officer will be able to see your answers. A highly skilled team, including Triage Counsellors, will review the risks identified in the questionnaire and will triage matters based on the level of risk identified.
  2. Triage: A member of the specialised Lighthouse Team will view the answers to the questionnaire in order to assist in identifying the level of risk in the matter. In some cases, a Triage Counsellor will be allocated to further assess the risk identified. How your matter is triaged is dependent on the level of risk identified:
    a. High risk assessments will be referred to a Triage Counsellor for immediate action. The Triage Counsellor will provide a tailored, clinical follow up which includes a detailed risk assessment, safety and wellbeing plans and service referrals.
    b. Medium or lower risk assessments will be considered for a range of case management options and will be directed to a suitable pathway based on the individual needs of the matter. Parties will be offered safety planning and service referrals as part of the secure online process.
  3. Case management: Those matters with the highest levels of risk will be referred to be placed on the Evatt List, the specialist Court list developed to assist families with high risk safety concerns. The Evatt List focuses on early intervention from the commencement of proceedings and the early gathering of information in the matter. The presiding judicial officers in the Evatt List have specialised training and are experienced in working with families where high risk safety concerns have been identified.

The Lighthouse Model was introduced to all Australian family law registries on 28 November 2022. If the Family DOORS Triage questionnaire is not completed, the case will be managed as per the Central Practice Direction – Family Law Case Management.

For more information please consult the following: Information sheet for Parties – Lighthouse risk screening

If you have any further questions about how the Lighthouse Model may affect you, or any questions about family law and case management generally, please contact the family lawyers at Blanchfield Nicholls on 9994 0130