Updated: Apr 19
Many people wait with bated breath for the Federal Budget announcement to find out how the Government plans to spend money. In the law, budget announcements effect the Courts, access to Legal Aid and Community Legal Centers just to name a few services. This years Federal Budget provides welcomed funding particularly to the Family Law System and women experiencing family violence.
Of particular note is the Governments announcement to expand the Federal Circuit and Family Court of Australia’s Lighthouse Project pilot and culturally responsive support for First Nations Australians. The proposed budget provides $87.9 million towards this project which includes $63.75 million in funding to the Court and $24.2 million over three years for the legal aid commission to increase capacity to meet increased demand for representation services resulting from the extension and expansion of the Lighthouse Pilot Project.
The Lighthouse Project is an initiative that provides screening, triaging and assessment processes in Family Law matters. The Lighthouse project has run in the Adelaide, Brisbane and Parramatta registries as a pilot project. The data so far has shown that approximately 64% of litigates are initially screed as high risk and 50% of high-risk matters have screened for four or more major risk factors including family violence, child abuse, drug or alcohol abuse, or mental ill health.
The Lighthouse Project provides for intensive case management and safety planning delivered by skilled Registrars and Court Child Experts. Where litigants are screened as high risk, they are interviewed as part of the risk assessment and referred to targeted support services to enable better public health outcomes. Those cases which are identified as high risk are placed into the Court’s specialist Evatt List.
The Federal Circuit Court and Family Court of Australia in their press release have welcomed this additional funding in the budget and plan to extend the Lighthouse project to all 15 Family Law Registries which is a fantastic outcome for families around Australia.
If you or someone you know needs legal advice in relation to their Family Law property settlement or children’s matter, please do not hesitate to call our specialist family lawyer on (08) 7084 3060 to arrange an obligation free appointment.