The Magistrates Court issues Domestic violence protection orders (DVO) to protect people who have been the victim of violence by a person close to them, usually their partner.
DVO orders that the person who has committed the violence (legally called the respondent) must not approach the victim (called the aggrieved) for a particular amount of time.
They usually also outline other restrictions. When a DVO is first issued, it is a civil matter, and so the respondent will not have a charge put against their criminal record, nor will they be imprisoned at the initial stage; however, if a DVO is breached, the respondent will be liable to fines or imprisonment.
Domestic and family violence refers to the use of violence or abusive behaviour by one person towards another. Under the Domestic and Family Violence Protection Act, 1989, a domestic relationship must exist between the aggrieved and the respondent; however, there are other protection options available under legislation for people who are not in a domestic relationship with the respondent.
Domestic and family violence is not limited to the physical act of violence alone; it also includes acts such as:
A spouse can be your de facto partner, your husband or wife, or the parent of your child/ren – whether you are cohabiting or not.
Whether the couple is living together or not, an intimate personal relationship refers to a close relationship between two people. This may mean that the couple were or are courting (whether or not the relationship is sexual in nature), in a sexual relationship, engaged to be married or even in an arrangement of betrothal under cultural or religious tradition.
A family relationship refers to a person who is related to another person via blood or marriage. It also encompasses family relationships in a broader sense, where some cultures define family to be someone who is reasonably regarded as a relative.
Under the Domestic and Family Violence Act 1989, Police must act on any reasonable suspicion that a person is an aggrieved person, by investigating, or causing to be investigated, the circumstances surrounding the suspicion. Their priority when called to a suspected family violence incident is to ensure the personal safety of all involved.
Police have the right to enter and search (if required) a residence when there is domestic violence occurring. This allows the police to ensure the further safety of the people involved, as well as allows them to collect any necessary evidence about the case.
The aggrieved person and the respondent are usually separated to speak to police privately. This ensures that the aggrieved does not feel intimidated by the respondent. Besides speaking to the aggrieved and the respondent, the police may also talk to any other family members or people present in order to ascertain if there is a history of violence, what the relationship is like and if there has been any previous involvement by the police.
Police have the right to obtain the name and address of any person involved in a domestic and family violence incident, as well as any witnesses.
If the police have reason to suspect that people may be in danger of further violence, or that property may be damaged, they will usually detain the respondent for up to four hours. The police may then apply for a domestic violence order.
If a respondent ignores or disobeys a DVO, they will be liable to penalties such as imprisonment or fines. These penalties exist as a deterrent to the respondent, in order to prevent further acts of violence against the aggrieved person. The courts usually apply heavy penalties to people who breach AVO’s.
This article provides basic information only and is not a substitute for a professional or legal advice.