What is the FCFCOA Family DOORS Triage risk screen?

On 28 November 2022 the Federal Circuit and Family Court of Australia (‘FCFCOA’) expanded their Lighthouse Family DOORS Triage risk screening model to all 15 family law registries, including Newcastle. This has followed the pilot of the project in the Adelaide, Brisbane and Parramatta registries since 2020, heralded as a success by members of the legal profession and other key stakeholders in the family law system.

What is the Lighthouse model?

The Lighthouse model is a methodology implemented by the FCFCOA used to screen for and manage risks relating to family violence, mental health, drug and alcohol misuse, and child abuse and neglect.

How does the Lighthouse model work?

Any party to FCFCOA proceedings which seeks parenting orders will be invited by email to participate in a secure and confidential online Family DOORS Triage risk screening questionnaire designed to identify the likelihood of harm or exposure to a type of harm (child abuse and neglect, family violence, mental health issues and drug or alcohol misuse) experienced by a party or child in family law proceedings. The questionnaire takes around 10 to 15 minutes to complete. All of the questions seek a yes or no answer and do not require any specific detail or examples.

What happens after I complete the Family DOORS Triage risk screen?

Once the questionnaire has been completed, a focussed team of Judicial Registrars, Family Counsellors and support staff specially trained in family violence and family safety risks assesses and directs cases into the most appropriate pathway based on the level of risk identified. The team triages matters and identifies those which may require additional safety measures and supports and begins to develop a bespoke safety and wellbeing plan for the individuals involved in the matter. This may include online referrals to independent services or further interviews with a Triage Counsellor (psychologists, social workers and counsellors).

What happens if my matter is identified as high risk?

The matters identified with the highest levels of risk will be referred to be listed in the Evatt List, a specific court list designed for families identified as being at high risk of family violence or other safety concerns. The Evatt List focuses on early information gathering and intervention to address the risk concerns. The Evatt List team of Judges, Senior Judicial Registrars and Judicial Registrars are all specially trained and experienced in working with families where high risk safety concerns have been identified.

Will my ex be told me answers to the Family DOORS Triage risk screen?

No. The other party will not be notified if you choose to take the risk screen and they will not be able to see your answers. Your answers are entirely confidential and cannot be used as evidence in your matter or be used against you by the other party.

Our experienced family lawyers are ready to navigate the new Lighthouse system. For more information about the upcoming changes, call our office on (02) 4943 3988 to speak with us. We are always here to help, and have years of experience assisting people in the Newcastle, Lake Macquarie and Hunter region.


This blog was written by Associate,
 Jessica Benson
Jessica practises in the areas of Family Law, Wills & Estate Planning,
Deceased Estates and Will disputes


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