Domestic violence law in Australia

The definition of domestic violence (sometimes referred to as “DV” or “family violence”) is a broad one. Many different types of conduct can fall within the parameters.

In the ACT, the relevant legislation is called the Family Violence Act 2016 (ACT).

Read more about the Family Violence Act.

The definition of family violence in the ACT has recently been expanded. Family violence does not require physical or verbal abuse or violence. It can also include emotional, psychological or economic abuse, or behaviour that is threatening, controlling, or which causes a person to feel fear for the safety or well-being of themselves or a third party.

Applications for what are known as “family violence orders” (which were previously called “domestic violence orders” or “DVOs” for short) are determined at the ACT Magistrates Court.

The types of family violence orders that can be made include orders that:

  1. Prevent a person from approaching a particular property or place such as a home, workplace, or school;
  2. Prevent a person from being with a specified distance of the protected person;
  3. Prevent a person from taking the belongings of the protected person, or refusing to return such belongings;

The orders that can be made are flexible and can be customised to the particular circumstances.

In Victoria, Intervention Orders are made by the Magistrates Court.

You can make an application for an Intervention Order personally or the police can make one on your behalf. If you wish to make an application yourself, it is advisable that you make an appointment to seek specific legal advice prior to doing so.

There is quite an overlap between family violence issues and family law issues and the courts are sensitive to that. Considering how to make provision for children in circumstances where there is domestic violence, and how to deal with a family law matter if a family violence Order has been made, are vital considerations to the final outcome for a party to proceedings.

Domestic violence can, in certain situations, be relevant to financial applications (property settlement or spousal maintenance) arising out of the end of a marital or de facto relationship.

For advice regarding domestic violence issues contact your Farrar Gesini Dunn solicitor.