1.1 This Practice Direction:
- repeals Family Law Practice Direction: Lighthouse Project and Evatt List (FAM-LHP) issued 1 September 2021;
- sets out the Evatt List eligibility for proceedings filed in the Federal Circuit and Family Court of Australia (the Court); and
- sets out the case management of matters in that list.
1.2 It is to be read together with:
- the Family Law Act 1975 (Cth) (as amended by the Family Law Amendment (Risk Screening Protections) Act 2020) (Family Law Act);
- the Federal Circuit and Family Court of Australia (Family Law) Rules 2021 (Family Law Rules);
- Central Practice Direction – Family Law Case Management (Central Practice Direction);
- Family Law Practice Direction – Parenting Proceedings;
- Family Law Practice Direction – Financial Proceedings; and
- the Evatt List Guides for parties and practitioners.
1.3 This Practice Direction applies to any eligible Initiating Application (Family Law) and Response to Initiating Application (‘eligible proceedings’). Eligible proceedings are defined as proceedings:
- seeking parenting orders only, or parenting and financial orders only;
- commenced in Adelaide, Brisbane, Cairns, Canberra, Dandenong, Darwin, Hobart, Launceston, Melbourne, Newcastle, Parramatta, Rockhampton, Sydney, Townsville or Wollongong on or after 28 November 2022; and
- have completed the Family DOORS Triage risk screening process as set out in Family Law Practice Direction – Parenting Proceedings.
1.4 Any other proceeding that does not meet the criteria of an eligible proceeding in paragraph 1.3 will be conducted in accordance with the Court’s case management pathway as outlined in Central Practice Direction.
1.5 This Practice Direction applies to all proceedings commenced on or after 28 November 2022. This Practice Direction will also apply to any proceeding that was being case managed under Family Law Practice Direction: Lighthouse Project and Evatt List (FAM-LHP), unless unfair or impractical to do so.
1.6 In the event of a conflict between the contents of this Practice Direction and the provisions of the Family Law Act, the Federal Circuit and Family Court of Australia Act 2021 (Cth), or the Family Law Rules, the legislation or Family Law Rules, shall apply to the extent of the inconsistency, noting the power of the Court to dispense with compliance with the Family Law Rules.
2. Criteria for the Evatt List
2.1 The Evatt List is a specialist Court list which focuses on early information-gathering and intervention. It involves active case management and aims to minimise the number of Court events for litigants to safeguard against family violence and other associated risks.
2.2 Only eligible proceedings that have been determined as high risk through the risk screening process are eligible for consideration in the Evatt List.
2.3 An eligible proceeding may be allocated to the Evatt List if:
- one or more of the parties has completed the risk screening process;
- the matter has been identified as high risk during the triage and risk screening process;
- the matter has been reviewed by a Triage Counsellor; and
- the Evatt Judicial Registrar has reviewed the matter and determined it is appropriate for allocation to the Evatt List. An Evatt List Judicial Registrar is the registrar who has primary responsibility for Evatt List matters.
2.4 When determining whether a matter is appropriate for the Evatt List, the Evatt Judicial Registrar will consider whether the matter contains high risk features, including allegations of:
- serious abuse or risk of serious abuse of a child of the proceedings whether it be physical, psychological or neglect;
- serious family violence or risk of serious family violence by a party to the proceedings, whether this is physical, emotional/psychological or financial;
- exposure or risk of exposure to serious family violence by a party or a child;
- serious drug, alcohol or substance misuse which has caused harm or poses a serious risk of harm to a child or party;
- a party’s mental health issues which has caused harm or poses a serious risk of harm to themselves or others, including a child;
- a party who poses a potential risk of self-harm;
- recent threats or attempts to abduct a child; or
- recent threats to harm a child or another person relevant to the proceedings, such as a new partner.
2.5 A matter cannot be allocated to the Evatt List unless the criteria in paragraphs 2.3 and 2.4 have been met.
3. Operation of the Evatt List
3.1 In accordance with the overarching purpose of the family law practice and procedure provisions of the Federal Circuit and Family Court of Australia Act 2021, and having regard to the potential harmful consequences of litigation for families and children and the objectives of the Evatt List as set out in paragraph 2.1, most cases will progress through the case management pathway outlined below. The Court will however, retain discretion and flexibility to depart from this pathway in individual cases in order to promote the overarching purpose and respond to risks to family safety and the needs of vulnerable parties.
3.2 Parties and lawyers are required to file any documents in accordance with the timeframes outlined in the Evatt List Guides and Central Practice Direction.
4. Further information
4.1 For more information about the Evatt List, including forms and guides, parties should refer to the FCFCOA website at www.fcfcoa.gov.au.
The Honourable Justice William Alstergren
Chief Justice (Division 1) | Chief Judge (Division 2)
Federal Circuit and Family Court of Australia
Issued: 28 November 2022