Co-location of State and Territory child protection and other officials in Family Law Court Registries
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 and policing officials in family law court locations across Australia. These co-located officials perform a range of functions to enhance information sharing and collaboration between the family law courts and their agencies, 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 Commonwealth Government is providing $11 million between 2019–20 and 2021–22 to improve information sharing between the federal family law and the state and territory child protection and family violence systems. This initiative is funding the co-location of 16 child protection officials and six policing officials at family law court registries across Australia. The Attorney-General’s Department will also commission a study to scope and cost technological solutions for information sharing.
As part of the 2021-22 Budget, the Commonwealth Government committed an additional $9.6 million in funding to extend the pilot to June 2025. The Attorney-General’s Department will also commission a study to scope and cost technological solutions for information sharing.
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.
Performance milestone reports indicate the co-location pilot is facilitating improved information sharing and collaboration between the family law courts and the relevant child protection and policing agencies.
What is next?
- An independent evaluation of the co-location pilot has been commissioned, and is due to be completed in early 2022.
- The funding for this initiative has been extended to 30 June 2025.
- The Attorney-General’s Department will commission a scoping study for a technological solution to support information sharing following endorsement of the National Strategic Framework for Information Sharing between the Family Law and Family Violence and Child Protection Systems (the National Framework) by the Meeting of Attorneys-General in late 2021. The National Framework represents a national collaborative effort to strengthen family safety outcomes, building on lessons learnt through the co-location pilot to improve information sharing between the family law courts and state and territory family violence and child protection systems.
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.