Published: 09 February, 2023

International focus on family violence and safety reforms as the Federal Circuit and Family Court of Australia hosts New Zealand Family Court judges

Two senior New Zealand Family Court judges and representatives from the New Zealand Ministry of Justice are visiting the Federal Circuit and Family Court of Australia this week to share ideas and discuss initiatives that address family violence, risk screening and safety measures in family law cases.

The delegation will be visiting the Courts’ Parramatta and Sydney registries on 9 and 10 February. 

Chief Justice, Will Alstergren AO, said that the visit from Principal Family Court Judge Jacquelyn Moran and Judge Alayne Wills is an excellent opportunity for the courts to learn from each other as we continue to reform and develop initiatives that aim to improve family law systems.   

“Family Violence in our society is a disgrace both nationally and internationally. It should not be tolerated and we as courts have an obligation to do what we can to diminish its impact on those who come into the court system. As part of that obligation, it is incredibly important that we all continue to maintain focus on improving the outcome of matters involving family violence and other risks, and to keep children and vulnerable parties safe. With that in mind, we are absolutely delighted to welcome our New Zealand counterparts to Australia.

“It comes at a time when our Courts have engaged in substantial reforms and successfully launched the risk-screening and safety initiative (known as the Lighthouse) late last year, which has generated significant interest from courts internationally.

“Lighthouse focuses on the safety and support of children and vulnerable parties through the early identification of safety risks at the very start of the proceedings, and by utilising the most effective and appropriate case management pathway tailored to meet the needs of each individual case. This includes a high risk court list with specially trained judges, registrars and staff. These procedures also allow the Courts to make referrals, utilising highly skilled Triage Counsellors, to much needed support and health services, particularly for people at high risk, including Aboriginal and Torres Strait families at high risk.

“We look forward to presenting information on our initiatives, and importantly, we look forward to hearing about the great work that the New Zealand Family Court is implementing,” Chief Justice Alstergren said.   

“Family and sexual violence is a big focus of the work of the Family Court in New Zealand and we have a number of important initiatives underway,” Principal Family Court Judge Jacquelyn Moran said.

“It is a fantastic opportunity to hear from the people at the forefront of the Lighthouse project and the triage response. I am keen to see if we could implement something similar in Aotearoa, New Zealand.”

Judge Moran said the family jurisdictions in Australia and New Zealand have always had a strong relationship and she welcomed the chance to meet colleagues in person again to share initiatives.

Federal Circuit and Family Court of Australia statistics

Court data shows that major risk factors are alleged in the following proportions in parenting cases filed in our Courts:

  • Family violence - in 80% of matters;
  • Child abuse of risk of child abuse – in 70% of matters;
  • Mental health issues harming a child or putting a child at risk – in 58% of matters; and
  • Drug, alcohol or substance misuse harming a child or putting a child at risk – in 53% of matters;

and the data reveals that these cases do not just have one risk factor in them. In 66% of matters the parties disclosed four or more risk factors – a prevalence much higher than previously understood. In fact, almost 80% of all parenting cases filed last financial year were referred to State or Territory child welfare agencies due to the risks alleged.

Further information


Denise Healy, Director – Media & Public Affairs, Federal Circuit and Family Court of Australia

m. 0409743 695 e.