2 December 2005

Family Law Courts' project to assist Court clients experiencing distress associated with family breakdown is being launched in Adelaide today, the Chief Justice of the Family Court of Australia Diana Bryant announced.

The project includes specialised training to further develop staff skills to better understand emotional distress and mental health issues.

"Another major feature of the project is the 'warm linking' of clients to appropriate services," Chief Justice Bryant said.

"Warm linking means staff, with their client's consent, arrange an appointment with an appropriate organisation so the client can have immediate access to their services, rather than only telling the client what help is available."

 "A Memorandum of Understanding will be signed today with each of the community and government organisations that will provide this 'warm linked' mental health support in the first phase of the project."

The organisations include Lifeline, Mensline, Centacare, Anglicare, Crisis Line, Mental Health Services, UnitingCare Wesley Adelaide and Danila Dilba (a service for Indigenous people in the Northern Territory).

The project will begin in Adelaide and Darwin and, if successful, may be extended to all registries of the Family Law Courts.

The Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for Health and Ageing, Christopher Pyne, will launch the $300,000 project, which the department funded as part of its national suicide prevention strategy.

"This is an excellent programme. Providing staff at the Family Law Courts with specialised mental health training will allow people who may be under immense pressure and going through great hardship to have access to assistance and support if they need it," Mr Pyne said.

Chief Justice Bryant and the Chief Executive Officer of Lifeline, Dawn Smith will also speak at the launch.