Co-location Pilot Evaluation – Final Report
The Co-location Pilot Evaluation – Final Report considers the operation of the Co-location Pilot and makes recommendations about the next steps for the Co-location Program.
The report makes 9 recommendations:
1. Continue to fund the co-location model
- Court and co-located officials largely agree that the co-location model is meeting its intended goals of:
- improving the timeliness and quality of information shared between the family law courts and state and territory agencies
- more collaborative inter-jurisdictional working arrangements and
- supporting decision-making to improve child and family safety.
2. Ensure sufficient and flexible human resources to allow for increasing workloads
- Consider increasing the number of co-located officials from policing or child safety agencies who can access information. This would assist with backfilling roles and managing the largely unpredictable peaks and troughs of the workload.
3. Reshape the co-located officials roles to reflect changing functions
- Consider reshaping the role and functions of the co-located officials roles to include:
- a more senior role that holds a liaison/ engagement function and has a higher level of family/ domestic violence and child safety content expertise
- a more junior, or generic information sharing/ information release role/ function
- greater clarity about the functions associated with each role and, if necessary, parity across the registries.
4. Continue to Increase the knowledge and awareness of the role and functions of the co-located officials
- Ensure the role and functions of the co-located official are known to the court at a local registry and national level. Consider including:
- the contact details of the co-located officials within induction/ orientation activities for new court staff at both the registry level and the national level (inclusive of the national assessment team of registrars).
- Clarify the role of ‘friend of the court’ (so that it is clearly understood that the co-located official in this role is not cross examined or giving evidence).
5. Continue to develop collaboration through co-location
- Continue to embed collaboration through co-location to ensure enhanced outcomes for children, families and agencies. Whilst this this would continue to be flexible, it would require the co-located officials with a liaison function to be physically located at the registry for some of the week (noting that there may be associated infrastructure or capital costs).
6. Create more consistent information sharing practices across jurisdictions
- Continue to create more consistent information sharing practices across jurisdictions utilising instruments such as the National Framework, practices, guidelines and legislation amendments.
- This could include the national co-location principles guide, which is currently being prepared by the courts; or an information guide which informs practice between co-located practitioners and registry staff. This may include what happens when information is exchanged, identifying the key information which is required, and how this information needs to be exchanged. The inclusion of procedures could increase consistency within and between registries.
7. Clarify the boundaries, expectations and processes for co-located officials
- Clarify how and what information can be shared with and between Registrars, Police, Child Protection agencies, Court Child Experts and Independent Children’s Lawyers.
8. Develop agreed measures of success
- Define an agreed set of key performance indicators that are reported on regularly by the court and co-located officials.
9. Consider shared data platforms
- Consider the development of a shared data platform in which KPIs can be entered by co-located and court officials.
- Consider providing co-located officials with read only access to the court database to facilitate timely information sharing and reduce potential duplications of information requests and information sharing processes.