Family violence

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At least one woman dies every week as a result of family violence. It’s an issue that will affect you, your family or someone you know. Everyone has the right to feel safe and respected. Family violence does not only occur between couples but also within parent and child relationships, as well as between siblings.

Family violence includes physical, psychological or sexual abuse, stalking, damaging property and exercising social or financial control. If a child hears, sees or is around when family violence occurs, they are also covered by the law as experiencing family violence.

You can apply for a family violence intervention order to protect yourself and your children (under 18) from a family member who subjecting you to violence. This is an order made by a Magistrate at a court with conditions or rules to restrict a person’s behaviour. If you apply for an intervention order you are the Applicant, the person who has exercised family violence is the Respondent.

To make an application you can speak to your local police and report occurrences of family violence and they may decide to apply for an order for you. If not you can arrange an appointment at your local Magistrates Court to make an application. Make sure you bring all your documents like diary records of the family violence, documents and pictures you’d like to use as evidence, copies of police reports or statements and copies of current court orders. You can also request an interim (temporary) order to provide you with protection through the court process.

The court process has several stages. The first stage is called the Mention. An order may be made if the Respondent consents. Both of you may decide you want to agree to an Undertaking which is a promise to the court that the Respondent will not behave in a way that’s stated in the Undertaking. An Undertaking is not an order of the court– it is an agreement between you and the Respondent. This means that the Police will not become involved if the undertaking is not complied with.

If the Respondent does not agree with the order being made they can contest the application. You will need to present evidence to support your application which shows that family violence has occurred, it is likely to happen again, and that you have a reasonable fear for your safety or wellbeing.

The second stage is called a Directions hearing. If the Respondent still wants to argue against the order, the application proceeds to a contested hearing, where the Magistrate can hear evidence from each of you and your witnesses and make a decision about whether to grant the order.

A family violence intervention order is not a criminal matter and does not appear on a criminal record check. If the Respondent breaches the order they can be charged with a criminal offence. A breach can occur if they do something that the order says they cannot do.

If you’re experiencing family violence you are not alone.



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