What is the The Critical Incident List?
The Critical Incident List (CIL) is a specialised list within the Federal Circuit and Family Court of Australia (FCFCOA) designed to fast-track legal proceedings.
The Critical Incident List was established in June 2022 to address urgent family law matters where no parent is available to care for a child or children due to death (including homicide), critical injury, or incarceration relating to or resulting from a family violence incident.
The list aims to provide timely and effective legal intervention in situations where children’s safety and well-being are at risk.
When is the Critical Incident List Used?
The CIL is specifically intended for cases involving:
Death of a parent
This includes situations resulting from homicide or other causes.
Critical injury of a parent
This encompasses instances where a parent’s physical or mental condition renders them unable to care for their child or children.
Incarceration of a parent
This refers to cases where a parent is imprisoned due to family violence-related offences.
What are the Benefits of the Critical Incident List?
The CIL offers several advantages in addressing family law emergencies:
- Swift action: The CIL prioritises urgent cases, ensuring that children’s needs are promptly addressed.
- Specialised expertise: CIL proceedings are handled by a dedicated judge with extensive experience in family violence matters.
- Access to resources: CIL applicants have access to court support services and specialised counsellors to assist them during this challenging time.
How to Apply for the Critical Incident List
To apply for the CIL, the applicant must meet specific criteria:
- Non-parental caregiver: The applicant must be a non-parent caring for the child or children.
- Absent parent: There must be no parent available to care for the child or children due to the aforementioned circumstances.
- Parental responsibility orders: The applicant must seek orders for parental responsibility to enable appropriate arrangements for the child or children.
To apply for the Critical Incident List, you must file the following documents:
- Initiating Application: If there are no existing family law proceedings, an Initiating Application must be filed. If there are ongoing proceedings, an Application in a Proceeding is required.
- Affidavit in Support: An Affidavit in Support must be provided, detailing how the application meets the criteria. The affidavit should not exceed 10 pages.
- Notice of Child Abuse, Family Violence, or Risk: A Notice of Child Abuse, Family Violence, or Risk form must be submitted.
Pre-action procedures, such as mediation and filing certain certificates, are not mandatory for Critical Incident List applications due to their urgent nature.
Once an application is submitted, it is evaluated by the National Assessment Team. If the application meets the criteria, a hearing date will be scheduled within seven business days. If the application does not meet the criteria, it will be referred for hearing by a Registrar, Judicial Registrar, or Judge within the standard timeframe.
Seeking Legal Guidance
The Critical Incident List serves as a lifeline for children and families facing extraordinary challenges. It sits alongside other initiatives from the Family Court such as the Evatt List and the Lighthouse Model.
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