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Specialist Indigenous List benefits First Nations families involved in family law system

Callan Morse -

Lismore's Specialist Indigenous List has celebrated 12 months of supporting the region's Indigenous families in the family law system.

Launched in March last year by the Federal Circuit and Family Court of Australia, the initiative was implemented to better meet the needs of Indigenous parties and children in the Northern Rivers area, and to adopt an appropriate degree of informality in relevant family law proceedings.

To mark the 12-month anniversary of the commencement of the Specialist Indigenous List (SIL), Lismore's Family Law Pathways Network hosted an event on Monday.

The Federal Circuit and Family Court of Australia's Chief Executive Officer and Principal Registrar, David Pringle PSM told attendees the effectiveness of the new initiative was due to the program's passionate staff and supportive partner organisations.

"The establishment of the SIL in Lismore and its success over the past 12 months is testament to the dedication of the local staff, Senior Judicial Registrar Flintoff and Indigenous Family Liaison Officer, Kygim King, who work closely with Judge Turner," Mr Pringle said.

"Importantly, we also acknowledge the incredible support that has been provided by the Northern Rivers Family Law Pathways Network, Relationships Australia, WDVCAS, as well as Legal Aid's Family Law Service for Aboriginal Communities and the Aboriginal Legal Service."

The Lismore SIL has been managed by Senior Judicial Registrar Tracy Flintoff, who has conducted 24 Specialist Indigenous List days over the past year in Lismore and in Coffs Harbour.

The Courts' Indigenous Family Liaison Officer, Ms Kygim King, has also contributed to the success of the SIL by supporting families in the lead up to, and on, the day of the hearing.

The Federal Circuit and Family Court of Australia said the event was an opportunity to hear directly from legal professionals who provide invaluable support to local Indigenous families involved in family law proceedings.

Northern Rivers Family Law Pathways Network chair, Julie Marshall, said after sitting on the steering committee that assisted the implementation of the SIL, she has been able to see first-hand how this Court has helped the broader Indigenous community.

"I have also been able to see the recognition of culture and the importance it can play in family law matters but more so the difference that can be made when culture is put at the forefront of litigation and the Court is mindful of cultural issues that in the past may have prevented families from engaging with the process," Ms Marshall said.

"The increase of family engagement and a keeping child with family, two worlds strong with access to culture considered in Court orders has been an amazing example of how things can work better when tailored to each family, child and their communities."

At the event, an educational video was also officially launched to explain the benefits of the SIL.

Developed by the Family Law Pathways Network, it is aimed at educating service providers, legal practitioners and the wider community.

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