Published: 23 November, 2023

Media release: Senior Judicial Registrar Lisa O’Neill finalist in prestigious Dame Quentin Bryce Domestic Violence Prevention Advocate Award

It is with pride that the Federal Circuit and Family Court of Australia (Division 1 and Division 2) (the Courts) congratulate Senior Judicial Registrar Lisa O’Neill for being listed as a finalist for the 2023 Dame Quentin Bryce Domestic Violence Prevention Advocate Award.

Announced at the 10th Legal Profession breakfast event hosted by Women’s Legal Service Queensland (WLSQ) and the Queensland Law Society in Brisbane this morning, the award recognises the contribution, commitment, and professionalism of an individual in the Queensland legal profession who has demonstrated throughout their career, outstanding dedication and action towards the prevention of domestic violence in Queensland.

Chief Justice the Hon Will Alstergren AO congratulated Lisa on her worthy nomination and for being listed as a finalist for the award which provides proper and due recognition of her deep knowledge of and experience in all aspects of family law, domestic violence and child protection litigation, and in policy development.

“Lisa’s career has been underpinned by a quiet but steadfast approach and unwavering commitment to the prevention of family and domestic violence in Queensland, and nationally.

“The many thousands of families that come before the Courts have been the beneficiaries of this commitment, as it was Lisa’s vision which led to the creation of the Courts’ world-leading risk screening initiative, Lighthouse

“That vision focused on how to introduce a process to screen litigants for family violence as soon as they entered the court system to help ensure the safety of families and children involved in family law disputes.

“Lighthouse and the (high risk) Evatt List have become instrumental in assisting families and providing the Courts with valuable insight into the nature of risk and experiences of parties at the point of filing, and we acknowledge Lisa’s significant contribution.

“Lisa’s work also involves sitting on high risk cases that have been referred to the Evatt List, where she interacts with and hears directly from families who have complex issues that involve allegations of serious family violence and have other risk factors,” Chief Justice Alstergren said.

Senior Judicial Registrar O’Neill said, “I am incredibly honoured and humbled, firstly for having been nominated for this award, and to have been a finalist.

“In regard to the creation of Lighthouse, I could see a desperate need for the court system to not only provide sound legal outcomes, but to also focus on better health outcomes for families by providing avenues to support mental wellbeing, and social support such as financial counselling, rehabilitation programs and parenting programs.

“I have enjoyed a diverse career that has focused on the wellbeing of vulnerable women and children.  My work as an Independent Children’s Lawyer, as an advocate in inquests and child protection and in family law litigation, at the Childrens Commission and developing domestic violence training for Queensland Magistrates has provided a unique opportunity to consider the wellbeing of families experiencing family violence from multiple perspectives.  All of that experience was invested in Lighthouse. I am very proud to have been named as a finalist today, and for that, I thank Angela Lynch for her nomination,” Lisa added.

Queensland-based lawyer and leading Domestic Violence Prevention Advocate, Ms Angela Lynch AM GAICD said that “Lisa has dedicated her professional life to advocating for and improving the outcomes of victims of domestic and family violence both in her work in private practice and her work at the Magistrates Court and the Federal Circuit and Family Court of Australia. She was also a key driver behind the establishment of the world-leading Lighthouse project and Evatt List. Lisa was a most-deserved finalist in this prestigious award.”

About Lighthouse

Lighthouse is an internationally recognised initiative which, through the Family DOORS Triage risk screen, provides a safe, confidential opportunity for parties involved in family law disputes to express concern about family safety risks. Since the national expansion which commenced 28 November 2022, parties in over 75% of eligible matters have completed the risk screen and the highly skilled Triage Counsellors have conducted over 5600 case file reviews for high risk parties. To date over 1400 matters have been placed on the Evatt List which is the Courts specialist high risk list.

Additional family violence related court initiatives include:

Educational films on family violence, Priority Property Pool (PPP), Family Violence Plan and Best Practice Principles, Indigenous Family Liaison Officers and Specialist Indigenous Lists, Magellan List,  the Critical Incident List and other specialist lists, Court Therapy Dog, and Information Sharing and Co-location with police and state child welfare agencies.