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

On the 3rd of June, the Federal Circuit and Family Court of Australia announced the establishment of the Critical Incident List. The List, which commenced on Monday 6 June 2022, is a fast-tracked process to make arrangements for children where one or both parents have suffered a critical injury, been incarcerated, or passed away as a result of Family Violence. 

Matters referred to the Critical Incident List will be overseen by a specialist Division 1 Judge, who will hear matters from all states of Australia, except Western Australia. The aim of the List is to secure urgent Court dates for families in times of crisis and to make Parenting Orders regarding arrangements for affected children. These Orders may relate to where the children will live and attend school in the interim, or what medical treatment they will receive. 

To file an application in the Critical Incident List, the following criteria must be met:

  • The applicant is a non-parent;
  • There is no parent available to care for the child(ren) 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(ren);
  • There are no existing final Final Orders which relate to the child(ren)’s care or parental responsibility arrangements with a non-parent.

Successful applications will be heard by the Judge managing the Critical Incident List within 7 business days. Applications must include the requisite Family Court Documents, and do not need to comply with pre-action procedures such as mediation. 

The List was created in response to feedback from the Queensland Homicide Victims Support Group, who indicated that too often, children are left without structured care following their parents’ death, injury or incarceration due to a family violence incident. It is imperative that extended families receive assistance to provide certainty and structure for children following distressing and traumatic events. In making Orders, the Court will prioritise the welfare of the children.  

For urgent counseling, services and support, call the National Sexual Assault and Family Violence helpline on 1800 737 732, or Lifeline Australia on 13 11 14. Specific helplines for men, children and the elderly can be found on the White Ribbon Australia Website.

If you meet the criteria to apply to the Critical Incident List, get in touch with our Family Law Team today for assistance with preparing your application. You can book an appointment by calling our Adelaide office on (08) 8223 3199, our Millicent office on (08) 8733 2500 or our Whyalla office on (08) 8645 7666.

This blog was written by Senior Associate Sriyani Partridge and Law Clerk Alice McKay.


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