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- Personal Safety & Domestic Violence
If you have an urgent concern for your personal safety as a result of an immediate threat you should contact the Police by dialling 000.
We take this opportunity to say at the outset that we have written this article from the perspective of a person who is applying for the protection of a domestic violence order. Connor Hunter is able to provide assistance both to people who wish to apply for the protection of a Domestic Violence Order and people who are in the position of needing to respond to such an Application.
Please contact us at either of our offices if you require any assistance in this regard.
What is Domestic and Family Violence?
The Domestic and Family Violence Protection Act 1989 (Queensland) sets out a long definition of what is Domestic Violence which is too long for us to repeat here. In summary it includes actual violence, threats of violence, damage to property, stopping you from having food or shelter or medical care, taking money from you, verbally abusing you, harassing you, deliberately making you feel afraid or forcing you to have sexual relations when you do not want to (these are some of the more common types of situations which will usually be accepted by the Court as fulfilling the definition of Domestic and Family Violence). The specific circumstances of your situation will be something you would need to discuss in detail with us if we were to assist you in any proceedings before the Court concerning Domestic Violence.
There may also be occasions when the conduct you are complaining about is also a criminal offence, and it may be appropriate to report it to the police.
Domestic Violence order
If you have suffered domestic or family violence you may apply to a court for an order restraining the perpetrator from committing further domestic violence against you.
Persons who may apply
If you have fears for your personal safety or those of your relatives it may be that it would be appropriate for you to apply to the Court for a Domestic Violence Order (DVO). You can apply for an Order against another person if you fall within certain types of relationship to them. These relationships are:-
i) Spousal relationship
If you are married to someone or living with someone in a de facto relationship as though you were married to them you can apply for a DVO against that person. You can also apply for a DVO against another person if you are both the biological parents of a child even if you have not lived together.
ii) Family relationship
If you are related to someone by blood or by marriage you can apply for a DVO against that person. Examples of such relationships are: brothers or sisters, half brothers or half sisters, parents (provided the aggrieved is not under the age of 18), step parents, children (provided they are not under the age of 18), parents-in-law; etc.
iii) Intimate personal relationship
An example of this relationship is for instance if you were engaged to be married to someone you could apply for a DVO against them.
iv) Informal carer or receiver of care
If you are providing informal care to someone with an illness or disability or if you are someone who is receiving informal care as a result of illness or disability then you can apply for a DVO against the other person. This does not apply if you pay for or are being paid to provide care services.
You can apply for an Order against someone whether they are of the opposite sex to you or are of the same sex as you.
Children under the age of 18 cannot apply for Domestic Violence Orders for themselves and no-one else can apply for a Domestic Violence Order against a child under the age of 18. If children were involved these situations would need to be dealt with separately as a child protection matter.
If you do not fall within the categories of relationship described above there may be other legal remedies available to you – please speak to us if this is the case.
How is an Application made?
If you believe you need the protection of a Domestic Violence Order you can apply to a Magistrates Court for an Order. You can apply in person, you can ask a solicitor or community worker to assist you to make an Application or if the Police have been involved they may apply for an Order on your behalf.
Guardians and Attorneys may also be able to apply but this will be a very specialist set of circumstances which we do not have the space to address within this article.
What happens when an Application is made?
First of all you must apply for an Order by completing an Application Form and submitting it to the Court. The Court would give you a date to return to Court for the first Hearing which is known as a “Mention”. The person against whom you are applying (the Respondent) will be given a copy of your Application and told about the Mention date. At the Mention the Magistrate will make a Protection Order if both people agree, if they do not agree, the Magistrate will need to decide whether it is necessary to make a Temporary Protection Order and also whether to set a date for a full Hearing of the Application. If the Application is listed for a full Hearing then at that full Hearing the Magistrate will listen to evidence from both the Aggrieved and the Respondent and any witnesses who have been asked to attend and the Magistrate will then decide whether to make a Domestic Violence Protection Order or not.
If the matter is very urgent a Magistrate can make a Temporary Order immediately the Application is made. If you feel that this may apply to you please speak to us about this as a matter of urgency.
What will the Orders say?
All Orders will say that the Respondent “must be of good behaviour towards the Aggrieved and not commit domestic violence towards them”. These orders can be extended to other named people if appropriate, the Orders can also contain various other specific provisions such as preventing the Respondent from making visits to a particular address or from going within a certain distance of a particular address, or prohibiting telephone calls to a particular number etc.
The Orders that are made will be tailored to suit your specific circumstances and will often provide temporary exceptions to the Orders to allow contact with children to take place if that is necessary or appropriate.
The Court Orders will often last for two years and can be varied, lifted or extended by further application to the Court.
What happens if the Orders are breached?
A Domestic Violence Order does not by itself create a criminal record for the Respondent but if a DVO is breached then this is a criminal matter and any breaches of a DVO should be reported to the Police. Penalties for breach of a DVO can include both financial fines and also terms of imprisonment.
What if I move?
If you move interstate within Australia or to New Zealand and you have the protection of a Domestic Violence Order made in Queensland you need to register that Queensland Domestic Violence Order in the Magistrates Court for the area you have moved to in order to continue to benefit from the protection of the Domestic Violence Order.
If you need assistance with a Domestic Violence matter either to make an Application for the Protection of a Domestic Violence Order or to respond to an Application which has been made against you please do not hesitate to contact us at either of our conveniently located Bayside Offices.