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Enhancing domestic violence protections for Family Court users

Media Release

Attorney-General
Minister for Industrial Relations
The Hon. Christian Porter MP

Senator the Hon. Marise Payne
Minister for Foreign Affairs
Minister for Women

Joint media release

The Morrison Government welcomes the launch of a $13.5 million pilot program which will enhance protections for families entering the family law system who are at risk of domestic violence.

Known as the Lighthouse Project, the program will screen participants involved in family law parenting matters for risk factors when a matter is filed. Cases can then be triaged according to the level of risk, and support provided to families identified as being in need.

Attorney-General Christian Porter said the pilot – supported by legislation passed by Federal Parliament last month – will begin in Adelaide next week, with the Brisbane and Parramatta registries of the Family Court of Australia and the Federal Circuit Court of Australia to commence early in January.

“Families using our court system have a right to feel safe and protected and the Lighthouse Project will ensure at-risk families are identified early so they can receive the specialist support they need,” the Attorney-General said.

“The legislation also protects the sensitive information obtained during the family safety risk screening processes, enabling free and confidential participation in the project, and improved outcomes for vulnerable families.”

Minister for Foreign Affairs and Minister for Women, Senator the Hon Marise Payne, said a specialist family violence list will also operate in the three selected registries for high-risk cases, enabling them to be fast-tracked with appropriate security arrangements in place.

“The Government’s first priority is to keep Australians safe. Combatting violence against women and children is central to that goal. The $13.5 million funding for this pilot builds on the Government’s significant and ongoing investment in addressing domestic violence, including our $150 million COVID-19 Domestic Violence Support Package,” Minister Payne said.

“As a Senator from Western Sydney, I am particularly pleased to see one of the pilots take place in Parramatta. Since 2019, I have chaired 15 roundtables with women across Australia to share information and coordinate efforts to prevent and respond to violence against women across Australia.”

Funding for this pilot is on top of the Government’s additional $142 million investment in Australia’s legal system as part of the 2020-21 Budget, the centrepiece of which was an $87.3 million for family law services that help families going through a separation to resolve matters without having to go to court.

Other measures announced in the budget include:

  • $35.7 million in additional resources and judges for the Federal Circuit Court to ensure timely case hearings for migration and family law cases, funded by increases to Federal Circuit Court migration application fees
  • $7.7 million for works to improve the safety and security of the Rockhampton and Launceston registries of the Federal Circuit Court
  • $4.8 million in additional funding for the Family Violence and Cross-examination of Parties Scheme
  • $2.5 million to allow the federal family law courts to continue to hear urgent matters through a specialist COVID-19 List
  • $2.5 million to transition the Family Court of Western Australia to a new case management system, and
  • $1.8 million to implement criminally enforceable Federal Family Violence Orders.

Australians in need of legal help can visit the Attorney-General's Department website to find out about the services that may be available. If in immediate danger, they should call 000 immediately.

For further advice or information about domestic and family violence, 1800RESPECT is a free, national telephone service: call 1800 737 732.

For more information about the Lighthouse Project pilot visit the Lighthouse Project website