Intersecting systems and the needs of families: Family law, child protection and domestic violence

Content type
Event date

29 June 2022, 01:00PM to 02:00PM


Rae Kaspiew, Daryl Higgins, Jess Hill, Anne Hollonds, Lisa O’Neill




This webinar was held on Wednesday, 29 June 2022.

A full recording of the webinar and related resources, including slides, audio and a transcript, will be published soon.

Problems arising from Australia’s fragmented system for responding to families affected by family violence and child abuse have attracted significant focus in the last decade. Split responsibilities between the states and territories having responsibility for child protection and family violence and the Commonwealth holding responsibility for family law increase these difficulties. The well-recognised burden of navigating these different systems is shouldered by vulnerable families.

This webinar reunited the panellists from AIFS Conference 2022 event ‘Intersecting systems and the needs of families: Family law, child protection and domestic violence’. The panellists discussed this topic with a focus on implications for practitioners working in areas related to family and domestic violence, family law and child protection.

The recorded panel event includes discussion on:

  • Issues and developments in relation to the intersecting systems that address the needs of children affected by family violence and child abuse – namely child protection, family violence and family law
  • Policy developments in the national child protection and family violence frameworks, the Federal Circuit and Family Court of Australia’s Lighthouse Project and child protection responses to children exposed to family and domestic violence
  • Practice insights for practitioners supporting children and families to navigate these intersecting systems.

The broader systems discussion may be useful for those in leadership and management roles as well.


Research Director, Systems and Services | Australian Institute of Family Studies

Dr Rae Kaspiew is a socio-legal researcher with particular expertise in family law and family violence. Prior to her appointment as Research Director, Systems and Services, she managed the Family Law, Family Violence and Elder Abuse research program at the Australian Institute of Family Studies. She has been involved in an extensive range of studies and was the lead author of two large-scale evaluations of successive waves of reforms in family law (the 2006 and 2012 reforms). She also led the team that completed the National Elder Abuse Prevalence Study in 2021. A theme present in her work has been the extent to which systems and services meet the needs of people affected by elder abuse and family violence. Advisory roles have included membership of the Family Law Council, a body that provides policy advice on family law to the federal Attorney-General, from 2010 to 2016. She was also a member of the Violence Against Women Advisory Group (2009–11) that advised the federal Minister for the Status of Women on the implementation of the National Plan to Reduce Violence against Women. Rae is also on the editorial board of the Australian Journal of Family Law.

Director, Institute of Child Protections Studies | Australian Catholic University

Professor Daryl Higgins commenced as the Director of the Institute of Child Protection Studies in February 2017. His research focuses on public health approaches to protecting children and child‑safe organisational strategies. He is one of the chief investigators on the first national prevalence study of child maltreatment in Australia. A registered psychologist, Prof. Higgins has been researching child abuse impacts and prevention, family violence and family functioning for over 25 years. 

Jess Hill

Freelance journalist

Jess Hill is an investigative journalist who has been writing and researching about domestic abuse since 2014. Before that, she was a producer for ABC Radio, a Middle East correspondent for The Global Mail, and an investigative journalist for Background Briefing. Jess was listed in Foreign Policy’s top 100 women to follow on Twitter and also as one of the 30 most influential people under 30 by Cosmopolitan magazine (two publications rarely listed in the same sentence). Her reporting has won two Walkley awards, an Amnesty International award and three Our Watch awards. Her book See What You Made Me Do, the first to chart the phenomenon of domestic abuse in Australia, is in stores now.

National Children’s Commissioner | Australian Human Rights Commission

Anne Hollonds is Australia’s National Children’s Commissioner. Formerly Director of the Australian Institute of Family Studies, for 23 years Anne has been the chief executive of government and non-government organisations focused on research, policy and practice in child and family wellbeing. As a psychologist, Anne has worked extensively in frontline practice, including child protection, domestic and family violence, mental health, child and family counselling, parenting education, family law counselling and community development. Anne currently contributes to several advisory groups, including the Family Law Council, Australian Child Maltreatment Study, NSW Domestic and Family Violence and Sexual Assault Council, and the National Plan Advisory Group (NPAG).

Lisa O’Neill

Senior Judicial Registrar | Federal Circuit and Family Court of Australia

Lisa O’Neill has extensive experience in all aspects of family law, domestic violence litigation and child protection litigation and policy development. Lisa is a Senior Judicial Registrar in the Federal Circuit and Family Court of Australia where she sits in the Evatt List in Brisbane hearing cases with allegations of serious family violence and other risk factors. She is the developer of the Lighthouse Project, an innovative response to domestic and family violence (DFV) in the Australian family courts; it uses a confidential risk-screening process to triage cases based on the level of risk. Lisa has worked in leadership roles in courts and tribunals including developing training for Queensland magistrates in DFV and in government and private practice legal roles.


Feature image: © GettyImages/ThitareeSarmkasat