Domestic Violence FAQs

General

What is Domestic Violence?

Domestic Violence which is sometimes called Family Violence is where a family member through an act or omission makes someone feel unsafe or afraid or commits a physical act such as punching, kicking or pushing. Domestic violence generally includes controlling or threatening behaviour which can be direct or indirect and often occurs over time but can be a one-off occurrence.
A Family Member can include, anyone you have a family relationship with, which includes:

  • Your partner
  • Children whether biological or under your care
  • Relatives
  • Anyone you treat as family

Domestic Violence can take many forms and includes when another person you are in a relationship with:

  • Is physically abusive
  • Is sexually abusive
  • Is emotionally or psychologically abusive
  • Is economically abusive
  • Is threatening
  • Is coercive
  • In any other way controls or dominates a person and causes a person to fear for their safety or wellbeing or that of someone else

Relationships covered by the law include:

  • An intimate personal relationship (married, de facto, registered relationship, engaged, couple and same-sex partners)
  • A family relationship (a parent, or former parent, of a child, or your relatives)
  • An informal care relationship (where one person is dependent on the other person for help in an activity of daily living like dressing and cooking for them.

For more information about Domestic Violence call us today on 1800 572 417 and speak with one of our lawyers.

If you are in immediate danger please call 000 or contact your local police station.

If you require emergency housing or counselling and support please consider calling:

  • ​DV Connect in Queensland, Domestic Violence Support Services Victoria
  • Domestic Violence help in New South Wales
  • Respect in Western Australia and for the rest of Australia
  • Womensline 24 hours / 7 days on 1800 811 811
  • Mensline 9am to 12 midnight, 7 days on 1800 600 636

I need a lawyer who can meet with me on a flexible schedule, can you accommodate my lifestyle?

Yes. We have a range of resources and a team of Lawyers who offer top-quality legal services. Our lawyers can arrange to meet with you in one of our offices, at our meeting rooms, in chambers, at a Court or other agreed location. We can also arrange Skype and telephone appointments saving you time and money. We are here to work with you and to make your life easier.

How do I know if you can help me?

We help many people across Australia work through issues of family and domestic violence. If you have domestic violence or family law matters in Court, or if you are looking to make an Application to have Court Orders put in place, then call My Legal Crunch on 1800 572 417. We can provide you with a 30-minute free consultation, and if we are unable to assist you for any reason, we will refer you to another legal practice, legal aid or a community legal centre that may be able to assist you.

Do you use barristers and if so do they cost extra?

Our lawyers are experienced in appearing in Court for matters that relate to Domestic Violence. Usually, unless the matter is very complex, we can forgo the cost of retaining a Barrister which is one of the ways we can offer our clients affordable legal services. In some complex matters, we can engage one of our trusted Barristers to attend Court for your matter. We have great relationships with our Barrister, and as such we are able to secure competitive rates, keeping your costs down.

Do you undertake other legal work like criminal matters?

Yes, our lawyers handle a variety of different areas of legal practice, including providing robust Criminal defence legal services, family law and we also defend individuals who are charged with a breach of Court orders.

How much do you charge?

We can offer you affordable pricing and in some instances fixed fee prices when it comes to Domestic Violence and Family Law matters. When we discuss your matter during our free consultation, we will let you know if your case falls within our fixed price structure and if not, we will tell you upfront what the expected cost would be.

Do you provide legal aid?

At this time we do not provide legal aid legal services.

I need more information and resources about domestic violence and family law, can you help me?

Our lawyers can provide you with information and resources regarding Domestic Violence and Family Law.

 

New South Wales

*How do I apply for an Apprehended Violence Order?

You can apply by contacting the police to create one on your behalf. Alternatively, you may apply for one by yourself at your Local Court.

Do I need a lawyer?

If the police have applied for an AVO on your behalf, you do not need a lawyer because the police prosecutor will present the case in court.

If you have applied for an AVO on your own through the Local Court, it is a good idea to get a lawyer to represent you. If you are eligible for legal aid, Legal Aid NSW may pay for a lawyer to represent you in your ADVO application.

What happens when I go to court?

If the defendant has been served with the Application for an Interim Apprehended Violence Order, but does not come to court without a good reason, the Court can make an AVO in his or her absence. Sometimes the police are not able to serve the defendant with the application by the time you first go to court. If this happens, your case will be postponed to give the police more time to serve the defendant with the application.

You or the police can ask the Court to make a temporary AVO to protect you until the next court date. The magistrate may need to hear some evidence from you to make an Interim AVO.

When can the Court make an Apprehended Violence Order?

The Court can make an AVO if:

  • the defendant consents (agrees) to an AVO being made; or
  • after hearing evidence, the Court is satisfied that there are fears for your safety and those fears are reasonable; or
  • the defendant has been served with the AVO but does not show up at court.

What happens if the defendant does not consent to the Apprehended Violence Order?

If you do not consent to an order, your case will be postponed in order for the court’s magistrate to listen to the evidence and make an official decision. A temporary order may be made in your favour pending a court hearing. This is called an “interim AVO.”

If your matter is adjourned for hearing, you may be told by the magistrate to give written statements to the Court by a certain date. Your matter will usually be listed for another court date to see if both you and the defendant have done the statements. If the police applied for the AVO for you, they will be preparing the statements.

When both you and the defendant have given the Court your written statements the matter should be listed for a hearing. It is important that you attend court for the hearing. If you do not attend, the AVO application may be dismissed. If the defendant does not attend court, the AVO can be put in place without them present.

 

Victoria

How do you apply for a Family Violence Intervention Order?

To protect family members, family violence intervention orders can be applied for at your local Magistrates’ Court. If you need protection from family violence immediately, a magistrate can put in place an interim intervention order until both sides can come to court. If you fear for your children’s safety, you can apply for an intervention order on their behalf as long as they are under 18 years of age.

Applications for intervention orders are made by ‘applicants’. This could be a police officer or another person who is seeking protection from family violence. If an intervention order is put in place, the person it will protect is called an ‘affected family member’ (AFM) while the application is being processed, or a ‘protected person’ once the order is made. Conditions to stop the respondent from using family violence against the AFM can be included in an intervention order. If the respondent breaks the conditions of an intervention order, they can be charged with a criminal offence.

Police can also apply for family violence intervention orders if they see that it is necessary.

What can the police do once a Family Violence Intervention Order is made?

If a Family Violence Safety Notice, Interim Order, or Final Order is issued, police may:

  • be at the house when the Respondent collects their things to oversee the protection of the person and property
  • search for and remove any weapons
  • arrest and change the Respondent with a criminal offence (if seen disobeying any of the orders or notices)

What happens if the Respondent breaks an Intervention Order?

Breaking the conditions of a family violence intervention order is very serious.

The police should be notified immediately if the Respondent to an intervention order breaks the conditions.

If you are charged with breaking the conditions of an intervention order, you should get legal advice.

If a respondent breaks the conditions of an intervention order, family violence safety notice or a counselling order, the police can charge them with a criminal offence. This is called a breach.

The court takes breaches of intervention orders very seriously. If the court finds the respondent guilty, they can be given:

  • a prison sentence
  • a fine
  • a good behaviour bond or other penalty.

The respondent will also have a criminal record.

How do you report a breach of an Intervention Order?

Write down dates, times and exactly what happened and what was said. This makes it easier for the police to take action against the Respondent.

No breach is trivial. Even driving past the protected person’s house is significant if the Respondent has been ordered not to go within 200 metres of it. The protected person can tell the police and report it.

The police must act on a report that the respondent has broken the conditions. They should take a signed statement from the person making the report.

They will interview the respondent and any witnesses before deciding whether to lay any charges.

If you are unhappy with police action, you can make a complaint.

What happens if the protected person moved interstate?

Since 25 November 2017, any intervention order made in Victoria is enforceable interstate. Police must uphold the order, but if you are the parent named in an intervention order and you plan to take your children interstate, it is important to seek legal advice.

What happens if an application has been made against you?

If an application for a family violence intervention order is made against you, the police will give you:

  • a copy of the application, which will describe in detail what the applicant (person applying for an intervention order) says you have done
  • a summons, which includes details about the court date.

At court you will be called ‘the respondent’ because you are responding to an application.

The police may also serve you with:

  • a family violence safety notice
  • an interim intervention order
  • a warrant for your arrest

The police will arrest you if there is a warrant. You can ask to speak with a lawyer if you are taken into custody.

It is inappropriate to verbally abuse law enforcement, even if you are upset about the current situation. Doing so will only make it more difficult to resolve the problem.

Will you get a criminal record if you have an Intervention Order applied against you?

A criminal record is not kept if you have an intervention order taken out against you. The action being taken is civil, not criminal; therefore, it is not considered a criminal offence. However, if you break the conditions of an intervention order, it becomes a criminal matter. You may be charged by the police with a criminal offence.

 

Western Australia 

Who can apply for a Violence Restraining Order (VRO)?

Adults (to non-family members), Parents, guardians, or child welfare officers (to protect children), Police officers (to protect adults or children), An individual’s guardian chosen under the Guardianship and Administration Act 1990 (WA), etc.

More than one person can be protected under one VRO, but the court may choose to make multiple VROs to ensure the safety of each person.

Where can I apply for a VRO?

To apply against a person under 18, applications must be made in the Children’s Court.

To apply in order to protect a person under 18 and against someone older than 18, applications can be made either in the Children’s Court or the Magistrates Court.

All other applications must be made in the Magistrates Court.

What conditions could be included in a VRO?

The respondent could be stopped from:

  • Approaching your home or workplace
  • Contacting or communicating with you
  • Being within a certain distance of you
  • Coming to or being near a certain place

VRO conditions can be made unique to your situation. The respondent’s failure to meet your VRO’s conditions is considered a criminal offence.

How long does a VRO last?

An interim VRO is valid until it becomes a final VRO, or is dismissed/cancelled by court. Final VROs against adults last about two years, and up to 6 months against a child or youth. Orders against adults may be extended if proven necessary.

What happens in Court during the first hearing?

If you file your application form online through an approved legal service provider, you can choose a first hearing time when you lodge your application. If you need an earlier hearing date, you or your legal service provider will need to contact the court. At the first hearing, the courtroom will be closed to the public and the respondent will not be there.

An affidavit is a written statement made under oath. If you make an affidavit, the court must read it and may ask you some extra questions. You might be required to testify in court about your situation and the events that led to your request for a violence restraining order.

The court will consider the evidence you have provided about how you know the respondent and why you want a VRO. Then, the Court can make an interim order immediately but may dismiss your application entirely or adjourn the case to another hearing so both sides can prepare their cases. For VROs in the Perth Children’s Court involving children who attend the same school, the case may be referred to a mediation conference. You can find more information and videos about VROs in the Children’s Court.

What happens if an interim VRO is made?

The police will serve the interim VRO on the respondent. After it is served on the respondent, the interim VRO can be enforced by the police and the court. 

Once served, the respondent has 21 days to object to a final VRO being made. They can ask the court for a copy of your affidavit and a transcript or record of what was said at the first hearing. 

If the respondent does not object to the interim order within 21 days, it automatically becomes a final VRO. If the respondent sends in a notice of objection to the court, the interim order will remain in place. You and the respondent will need to come back to court for a hearing so the court can decide if a final VRO should be made. Objecting to an interim VRO does not mean the order is cancelled. 

How else can a court make a VRO?

VROs can be made during other cases and in other courts. This includes: 

  • in bail applications and court cases about criminal charges 
  • when sentencing people for violent or sex offences 
  • during parenting cases in the Family Court of WA 
  • during protection and care cases in the Children’s Court of WA. 

What restrictions can be included in an FVRO?

When an FVRO is issued, an order prohibiting contact can be included. If this is included in the order, the respondent commits a criminal offence if they breach any part of the order. For example, they could be charged with breaching their FVRO if they enter your work or home area, or if they try to contact you in any way.

The FVRO conditions are designed to protect you and give you peace of mind that the respondent cannot approach you. Conditions that may be set include:

  • Prohibiting the respondent from coming to or near where you live or work
  • Being at or near a certain place (for example, your workplace)
  • Coming within a certain distance of you
  • Contacting or trying to communicate with you in any way

An exception can be made for one time only for the respondent to collect their possessions from a place that was associated with them (for instance, the home the couple shared).

What if I already have a current Domestic Violence Order from another state or territory?

Restraining orders relating to family violence (sometimes called domestic violence) can now be nationally recognised and enforced by police and the courts anywhere in Australia. An existing (current) family violence order will automatically apply across Australia if it: 

  • was made on or after 25 November 2017 (in any Australian state or territory, including WA) 
  • was made or varied in a Victorian court (on any date), or 
  • was made in New Zealand and registered in Victoria (on any date). 

If your existing order is not automatically enforceable in WA, you can apply for national recognition. This may be simpler, quicker and safer than applying for a new FVRO. 

You should get legal advice or contact a local court where your order was originally made to see if you need to apply for national recognition. 

What if the other person already has criminal charges related to me?

Bail conditions may already include requirements that the person you need protection from does not contact you or enter your address or workplace. If this is so, there may be no need to make a separate application for a final FVRO if the person is convicted or pleads guilty.

 

Queensland 

What are Temporary Protection Orders?

Temporary Protection Orders are orders that can be made in the interim period before Court decides whether or not a protection order will be made for the aggrieved.

What is a Voluntary Intervention Order?

If a magistrate makes or varies (changes) a domestic violence protection order, it can also make a voluntary intervention order requiring the respondent to attend an intervention program, a perpetrators intervention program or counselling to address their behaviour. 

This order can only be made if the respondent is present at court, they agree to the voluntary intervention order being made or varied, and they agree to comply. You should get legal advice.

Are children included on Domestic Violence Protection Orders?

Yes, children can be included if they are at risk of being exposed or subject to domestic violence – it can be your children, children who usually live with you or spend time at your home on a regular basis, or unborn children if you are pregnant (by which it the protection order will take place after the child is born).

A child is considered exposed to domestic violence if they hear, see, or experience it – even by seeing damaged property in their own home.

Can I change a Domestic Violence Protection Order?

The aggrieved, the respondent or any other person named in the order can apply to vary (change) the domestic violence protection order. If the police have taken out the order they can oppose this. The aggrieved or the respondent can apply to change:

  • the order’s conditions
  • the people named in the order
  • the order’s length (to have it end sooner or make it longer).

People named in the order (eg your friends and family) can only apply to change the parts of the order that relate to them.

When deciding whether to vary (change) an order, the magistrate must consider:

  • the wishes of the aggrieved or any other person named on the order
  • whether the aggrieved or any other person named in the order may have been pressured
  • the safety, protection or wellbeing of the aggrieved or any other person named in the order.

The magistrate will only change the order if it’s satisfied the aggrieved, or any other person named on the order, would not be adversely affected by the change.

To apply to change the order’s terms or conditions, you will need to complete a Form DV04 Application to vary a domestic violence order.

If there’s a domestic violence protection order between you and your partner, you should get legal advice about living together. The respondent may be breaching the order just by being near you. You can have a domestic violence protection order and still live with each other.

What happens if you breach a Protection Order?

The breach of a Protection Order is a criminal offence which can be prosecuted by the Police and is punishable by a maximum penalty of:

  • 120 penalty units or 3 years’ imprisonment; or
  • If the Respondent has previously been convicted of a breach of a Protection Order in the last 5 years, then they could receive a fine up to 240 penalty units (currently $28,272) or 5 years’ imprisonment.

As of 1 July 2021 – a penalty unit is $137.85.

What conditions can be put in a Protection Order?

Protection orders can contain special conditions such as:

  • Prohibiting contact with the aggrieved
  • Restricting the respondent from approaching the aggrieved within a certain distance and/or going to specific places
  • Ordering that the respondent not have weapons, and/or
  • Ordering the respondent to leave a place where the aggrieved and respondent reside.

These conditions can be changed to suit the aggrieved’s unique situation.

 

More Domestic Violence Resources

For further resources, see our Domestic Violence Resources page here.

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