The Critical Incident List in the Federal Circuit and Family Court of Australia

critical incident

The Federal Circuit and Family Court of Australia (FCFCOA) have introduced the Critical Incident List commencing from 6 June 2022, consists of an innovative process which aims to provide faster, urgent care for children in exceptionally difficult circumstances.

These circumstances may involve a situation where urgent arrangements need to be made by a family member or person concerned with the welfare of a child where no parent is available to make those decisions due to being incarcerated as a result of family violence, suffering critical injuries or death and orders are sought for parental responsibility.

The Court has enunciated specific criteria to be eligible for the critical incident list as follows:

  • The applicant must be a person who is not a parent of the child/children but is caring for the child/children;
  • There is no parent available to care for the child/ children as a result of death (including homicide), critical injury or incarceration relating to or resulting from a family violence incident;
  • The applicant is seeking orders for parental responsibility to enable appropriate arrangements to be made for the child or children; and
  • There are no existing final family law or state/territory child welfare orders in place which relate to the child or children’s care arrangements with a non-parent or allocating parental responsibility of the child/children to a non-parent.

To file an application in the critical incident list, the Court will accept the required documents being emailed to the National Assessment Team who will assess when the matter should be allocated, whether it is eligible under this list and any necessary procedural orders.

The Judge presiding over the Critical Incident List has the power to make orders relating to the care and development of the child/children, including:

  1. Living arrangements,
  2. Educational arrangements, or
  3. Orders for parental responsibility to empower non-parents to care for and make appropriate plans for the child/children in need.

This Family Law initiative draws support from the Courts’ Family Violence Committee, who have long sought an institutional response to the lengthy and draining court processes and the adverse interference that a Court process can have on the child’s personal development. According to a press release dated 3 June 2022, the Chief Justice of the FCFCOA, the Hon Wil Alstergren, noted that the process will help not only the children but their families as well:

Family violence is a national disgrace, and far too often, results in the death of a parent at the hands of their partner or former partner… It is an extraordinarily tragic and stressful time for the children involved, and the extended family members who are suddenly left to pick up the pieces and care for the children and make arrangements for their health and education.”

Moreover, the initiative also drew support from Mr Brett Thompson, Chief Executive Officer of the Queensland Homicide Victims Support Group. Mr Thompson said:

“The impact upon children when a parent is lost through family violence is immeasurable, and our society must ensure that appropriate support is able to put in place as an absolute priority. The energy and focus needs to be on the welfare of the children, and not on how to navigate the right to support them in the most basic of ways every day.”

If you are in a situation which may satisfy the eligible criteria for the critical incident list, please call our office on 9920 1787 to see how Pannu Lawyers can assist you.

Pannu Lawyers extensively practice in Family Law and regularly appear at the Federal Circuit and Family Court of Australia, which has court locations in Parramatta (NSW) and Dandenong (VIC). We are conveniently located within a walking distance from the Blacktown train station and can accommodate after-hour appointments to suit you. If you are looking for the best Family Lawyers, we are a perfect fit for you. Call our office on 02 9920 1787 to discuss your matter in a confidential manner.

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