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What is the Lighthouse Project and the Evatt List?

Peta Krarup
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29 January 2024

The Lighthouse Project was introduced by the Federal Circuit and Family Court of Australia in 2020. The aim of the project is to assess levels of risk of child abuse and/or family violence to parties and children when applications are filed with the Court in relation to parenting matters. If, after the Family DOORS Triage Risk screening process has been completed and the matter is deemed “high risk”, then the matter is placed on a specialist Court list called the Evatt List.

Initially, the screening model and Evatt List were trialled in the Brisbane, Adelaide and Parramatta Court registries however, from 28 November 2022, the screening model was rolled out across the entire country, including regional Queensland.

How do you get on the Evatt List?

If you are a party commencing proceedings in a parenting matter, when you file your Initiating Application through the Commonwealth Courts Portal:

  1. You will be asked to provide your preferred email address and telephone number;
  2. You will receive an email with a personalised link and login details from the Court to an online questionnaire for you to complete within two (2) business days. The questions take about 10 to 15 minutes to complete and all questions require a “yes” or “no” response;
  3. The results of the questionnaire produce a risk assessment of “low”, “moderate” or “high”. If your matter is deemed “high risk”, then your matter will be placed on the Evatt List.

How does the Evatt List work?

The way the Evatt List works is to streamline or triage matters where there are vulnerable parties and children and the aim of a more efficient case management pathway is to try and minimise the trauma on parties and children.

The case management pathway for Evatt List matters is:-

  1. A first Court event within 8 to 12 weeks – where the Evatt Judicial Registrar will decide on any urgent issues and then what evidence and information is required to prepare the matter for a Trial/Final Hearing;
  2. A second Court event within 3 to 6 months – where a “plan” for the Trial is formulated by the Court and can include reports being prepared by Court experts and, if appropriate, whether the parties should be referred to mediation to try and resolve the matter before a Trial;
  3. A Compliance Check within 6 to 9 months – which is where the Evatt Judicial Registrar will check that all information and evidence has been provided and if so, the matter will be allocated dates for a Trial and referred to a Judge.
  4. A Trial/Final Hearing within 9 to 12 months - Final Hearing for Evatt List matters are given priority over parenting and/or financial proceedings which are not on the Evatt List. 

What types of matters does the Evatt List deal with?

It is important to note that the Evatt List only deals with parenting matters or matters where there are concurrent parenting and financial proceedings. That is, if a court matter is in relation to financial matters only, then parties are not eligible to have the matter dealt with in the Evatt list even if family violence has occurred during the parties’ relationship. You cannot ask the Court to list your matter in the Evatt List.  You must complete the Family DOORS Triage Risk and your matter must be deemed “high risk” for your matter to be placed on the List.

If you are at the stage of commencing Court proceedings for your parenting matter, you are encouraged to seek legal advice quickly. Contact our office on (07) 4963 2000 or via our online contact form to make an appointment with one of our solicitors to obtain advice before appearing in court or filing your court proceedings.