In this section:

Co-location of State and Territory child protection and other officials in Family Law Court Registries

Responsible government

  • Commonwealth

Fourth Action Plan actions

  • Improve support and service system responses
    • 17 Collaborate across services, sectors and workforces to ensure responses to women affected by domestic, family and sexual violence are coordinated, meet women’s needs, avoid women having to retell their story and promote their recovery.

What are we doing?

This initiative is piloting the co-location of state and territory child protection practitioners and policing officials in family law court locations across Australia. These officials will facilitate timely access to relevant information and records held by state authorities and other courts, which is crucial to decision-making that promotes the best possible outcomes for children and a court system that is responsive to safety risks.

The role of the co-located officers is to:

  • access and provide family law courts with relevant information held by their agencies, and
  • help facilitate the timely and targeted production of documents relevant to the family law courts’ consideration of family safety risks.

The Commonwealth Government is providing $11 million between 2019–20 and 2021–22 to fund the co-location of 22 co-located officials, including 16 child protection and six policing officials, in family law court registries across Australia.

As part of this initiative, the Commonwealth will also fund the engagement of an expert consultancy to scope and cost technological solutions to improve information sharing between the federal family law and the state and territory child protection and family violence systems.

What have we achieved so far?

The pilot commenced in January 2020 with the execution of the Project Agreement for Family Law Information Sharing.

By June 2020, the initiative had moved into the operation phase, with all 22 of the co-located official positions established in or around the relevant registries nationally.

What is next?

  • It is anticipated that procurement for the scoping and costing of a national technological solution will commence in 2021.
  • An independent evaluation of the co-location initiative will be commissioned in the third quarter of 2020.
  • The funding for this initiative will cease on 30 June 2022.

What difference will we make?

The intended outcomes of this program include:

  • a more coordinated response to family safety issues (demonstrated in part by the sharing of data relating to information or intervention requests in matters where child abuse is suspected or alleged)
  • judicial officers being able to make decisions with full knowledge of prior involvement by child protection and law enforcement agencies
  • strengthened judicial decision-making, with family safety risks identified and addressed earlier in family law proceedings
  • improved inter-jurisdictional understanding and cooperation, leading to better information sharing practices.

Indicators of success may include:

  • reduction in number of unnecessary interventions by child protection departments in proceedings
  • reduction in number of subpoenas issued to child protection and law enforcement agencies in family law matters
  • faster information sharing, resulting in fewer court adjournments
  • earlier identification and mitigation of risks to child welfare and family safety, and
  • positive feedback about the measures from sector partners including family law court judicial officers, state and territory judicial officers deciding family violence and child protection matters, child protection agencies and policing agencies.

The Commonwealth will fund an independent evaluation of this initiative.

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