New appointments to Adelaide registry will support judges and implement new pilot for family violence cases

The Family Court of Australia and Federal Circuit Court (the Courts) today announced the appointment of Ms Kathryn Heuer as Senior Registrar to the Courts’ Adelaide registry. In addition, Ms Jacqueline Schirripa and Ms Camille McDonald have been appointed as Registrars of the family law courts in Adelaide.

These appointments follow the Senior Registrar appointments announced on 26 June for the Melbourne, Sydney and Brisbane registries and form part of a broad recruitment process which is aimed at implementing key Government-funded projects, supporting the judges of the Courts with case management and providing alternative dispute resolution.

Ms Heuer, as Senior Registrar, and Ms McDonald and Ms Schirripa as Registrars, will also play key roles in the implementation of an innovative pilot, the Lighthouse Project which is in active preparation within the Courts and will be launched later in the year. Adelaide is one of three locations where the Lighthouse Project will be piloted. The project involves a ground-breaking method in which the Courts will identify and assess risk at an early stage of the court process to ensure that people experiencing family violence will receive support, as well as appropriate case management. Importantly, cases identified as involving high risk will be heard and determined swiftly through a specialised Court List, known as the “Evatt List”.

Ms Heuer, as Senior Registrar, and Ms McDonald and Ms Schirripa as Registrars, will also play key roles in the implementation of an innovative pilot, the Lighthouse Project which is in active preparation within the Courts and will be launched later in the year. Adelaide is one of three locations where the Lighthouse Project will be piloted. The project involves a ground-breaking method in which the Courts will identify and assess risk at an early stage of the court process to ensure that people experiencing family violence will receive support, as well as appropriate case management. Importantly, cases identified as involving high risk will be heard and determined swiftly through a specialised Court List, known as the “Evatt List”.

The Chief Justice of the Family Court of Australia and Chief Judge of the Federal Circuit Court of Australia, the Hon Will Alstergren said, “These appointments come at a significant time for the Courts as they continue to implement a range of reforms that aim to provide additional support to judges, enhance alternative dispute resolution within the Courts, and importantly, reduce delays.”

The Chief Executive Officer and Principal Registrar of the Courts, Mr David Pringle said, “The Courts welcome the appointment of such highly experienced family law practitioners, who will make a significant contribution to key projects and support the work of the judges in the Adelaide registry.”

Ms Heuer said, “My appointment as Senior Registrar allows me to be an integral part of the leadership and reform of the Courts and to deliver significant improvements in the family law system that I have been involved with for 30 years.”

Biographical information:

Kathryn Heuer

Kathryn Heuer has been appointed as a Senior Registrar, based in the Adelaide registry. Having practised in family law since 1989, the breadth and depth of Kathryn’s expertise has ensured her reputation as a highly regarded legal practitioner in all matters related to family relationships. Most recently Kathryn was Director at Ferrar Gesini Dunn, a leading private legal firm with offices in Canberra, Melbourne and Sydney, a position she has held since 2007. Kathryn also established and led the Estates team at her former firm.

Kathryn has also been a qualified mediator for 28 years and was previously a Registrar of the Family Court in the Canberra Registry. She has been recognised several times as a leading lawyer in the Doyle’s Guide, and is regarded as a leader in collaborative law in Australia, assisting family law clients to resolve their disputes out of court.

In private practice Kathryn was known for her empathetic approach to achieving desired outcomes for clients where emotions run high, for her focus on encouraging the resolution of matters outside of Court, and her commitment to helping people. Her appointment draws together the various threads of her career and brings to the Courts her significant experience as a private practitioner, mediator and Registrar.

Kathryn will draw on her extensive skills and leadership to ensure the successful implementation of the risk-screening Lighthouse Project in Adelaide and the specialist high risk List associated with that project. She will also undertake important Court work and dispute resolution in support of judges.

Jacqueline Schirripa

Jacqueline Schirripa has been appointed to the role of Registrar in the family law courts, based in Adelaide. Jacqueline has 19 years of post-admission experience as a legal practitioner, coming to the courts from the Legal Services Commission of South Australia where she had spent the last 13 years as a family law solicitor and Independent Children’s Lawyer.

The majority of Jacqueline’s experience as a highly respected practitioner in Adelaide has seen her dealing with matters concerning complex children’s issues as well as property settlement and financial matters. Jacqueline is a Committee member of the Children & the Law Committee of the Law Society of South Australia and is committed to the important work that the Courts undertake. Jacqueline relishes the opportunity to support the work of the judges and the community in exercising her duties and responsibilities in the role of Registrar within the family law courts.

Camille McDonald

Camille McDonald has been appointed to the role of Registrar in the family law courts in the Adelaide Registry. Camille is a highly respected family law practitioner in Adelaide, having 12 years’ experience practicing family law. In addition to her Bachelor of Laws and Bachelor of International Studies obtained from the University of Adelaide, Camille also holds a Masters Degree (LLM) in Applied Family Law from the College of Law NSW. Camille is a former Vice President of the Women’s Lawyers Association of South Australia, in which she committed much of her tenure to recognising the achievements of women across the South Australian legal profession. In 2018 and 2019 Camille was named as a ‘Rising Star’ for the SA family law industry by Doyle’s Guide.

Camille is recognised by her peers as an articulate practitioner with exceptional communication skills. Her ability to successfully implement non-adversarial solutions in her practice of family law has been widely noted as one of her strengths. It is with that skill set, alongside her interest in the progression of the family law courts, that she looks forward to commencing her role as a Registrar.

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