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Development   /  Jonathon Dutton

Reimagining Separation

Reimagining Separation examines family separation and why experts working within ‘the system’ are calling for change.


Impact areas





  • DIRECTOR Jonathon Dutton

  • PRODUCER Jonathon Dutton



Reimagining Separation (working title) will take an in-depth look at separation from the perspective of divorcees, as well as the judges, lawyers and psychologists that work within ‘the system’. The film explores the nature of conflict; the impact it has on children; intergenerational trauma; and why court should only be accessed by families when all other options have been exhausted. Importantly, this film will go one step further than recent government reports by developing a solution that will be released alongside the film.

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0% funded
  • $450,000.00

  • $0.00

  • May 2021

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Issue Summary

A short summary of the issue the documentary is addressing

50% of first marriages end in divorce and of those, 47.1% involve children under 18 years. When children are involved in the conflict of separating parents, the impacts can be devastating and sadly, many families are finding themselves exacerbating this conflict by getting unnecessarily caught up in the adversarial family law system. This film reimagines what the system could look like and by doing so, we’ll not only show couples that there is a better way, but we’ll show lawmakers and government how and why change can and should happen.


What is the impact vision statement of the documentary?

Our goal is to show audiences that there is a better way for families to separate. Not only do we want to show separating couples why they should avoid the adversarial system, but with our reimaging, we intend to create a solution (e.g. an online platform) designed to help people navigate the process – without lawyers. The larger outreach campaign will see the film used to lobby lawmakers and government by offering a roadmap for change.


What outcomes does the project hope to achieve from making this documentary?

The short-term outcomes we hope to see is a shift for audiences in terms of what they would do, or advise their friends and families to do, if they are separating, or considering separating. For those that are actively separating or have experienced separation, we would like to see them actually use or engage with our solution and give voice to our movement.

The medium-term outcomes we hope to see are ongoing views and engagement with our film and community, as well as widespread adoption of our solution by separating families and those embroiled in conflict. In simple terms, this solution will be for all separating couples - no matter what their background - to navigate and get access to the information and resources they need to resolve their conflict peacefully.

The long-term outcomes we hope to see would be legislative. We would like to see either our solution, or something comparable, be mandated as the first step for separating couples, before they can engage a lawyer.


How will partnerships with this project help inform the project development?

This project was inspired during the creation of a 30-minute film (Family is Family) to celebrate ten years of the Melbourne Collaborative Alliance (MELCA). MELCA is a unique business practicing a form of ‘Collaborative Law’, which is a form of Alternate Dispute Resolution (ADR). The goal of Family is Family was to tell the story of separation and how ADR can minimise the impact of family separation. In other words, it had a very specific commercial purpose.

The film launched in October 2018 and the feedback we received was overwhelming. We believe this was because of the quality of the participants, made possible by MELCA’s reputation and network. Below is a link to the extended trailer:

Reimaging Separation will take this issue into what could be ground-breaking territory. We already have access to an influential and passionate group of advisors (our steering committee), and throughout development we intend to cast the net even wider with their guidance

Audience Engagement and Social Impact

What actions does this project hope for its viewers after seeing this film?

1. We want audiences that are in the process of separating or experiencing conflict to visit and utilise our solution.
2. We want audiences who know those affected to recommend the film and our solution.
3. We want audiences working in this space to join and give voice to our community, our movement and hold screenings of the film.
4. We want audiences who are influencers working in the media to use our film and resources to start a national conversation.
5. We want audiences connected to universities to encourage them to use our film and inspire legal professionals to see family breakdown as more than just a legal issue.
6. We want audiences to help us champion and drive meaningful legislative change.

Measurement and Evaluation

What is the projects indicators for success?

The short-term indicators will be measured via the engagement of our solution and growth of our community. We would also use some qualitative measures to get a sense of how the film and the solution is translating; what information is being retained; as well as the user experience of the solution. This will help us understand and explore what else we could be doing to enable us to achieve our goals.

The medium-term indicators we will be looking at is growth in the use of our solution and the outcomes of those that are using it. We will also be looking at the influence of our community, as well as how the film is being used by organisations and universities.

The long-term indicators will be a direct result of government and lawmaker interest and action. In terms of transforming our community into a purpose-driven organisation, this will be based on whether or not we reach the ‘tipping point’ in terms of the size of the community and the need for another organisation to fill a gap.