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What is domestic violence?
Domestic violence is typically defined as physical abuse, emotional abuse, sexual, psychological or verbal abuse, economic abuse, threatening or coercive behaviour or acts, which are aimed at dominating and/or controlling a family member, partner or ex-partner. This also includes child abuse.
Domestic violence laws in different states
Domestic violence laws differ across Australia. Depending on which State or Territory you are from, family violence orders are known by different names. For example, they are also known family violence intervention orders (VIC), apprehended violence orders (AVO) or apprehended domestic violence order (NSW), protection orders (QLD), police family violence orders (Tas), domestic violence orders (NT and ACT) and violence restraining orders (VRO) (WA).
In some states, like WA, police can issue on the spot “police orders” for situations of family or domestic violence. A police order may be made for up 72 hours.
What is a family violence intervention order?
Family violence intervention orders, commonly known as apprehended violence order (AVO) or IVO, are made against you when there is or was a domestic or personal relationship between you and the person with allegations of violence, threatened violence, stalking or intimidation.
If an application has been made, then you are called the respondent. When an application is first made the police will give you:
- A copy of the application, which will outline what the applicant alleges you have done
- A Summons, which tells you when and where to go to court.
This also may be followed with a:
- A Family Violence Safety Notice
- A Warrant for your Arrest
- An Interim Order, which is an order made by the Court before the Final Order is made
- A Final Order or Notice.
It is important that you read the conditions of the Order and any Interim Order that has been made against you because if you break any conditions you could be charged with a criminal offence. If you are on bail or a warrant has been issued you should see a lawyer immediately.
What is the effect of a Family Violence Order?
A Family Violence Order is not a criminal charge, it is a civil matter. This means that if you comply with the conditions of your AVO you will not get a criminal conviction. But if you breach a family violence order, a warrant may be issued for your arrest and criminal charges may be brought against you. This is a very serious situation and you should contact a lawyer straight away.
Also, if you have been granted bail, breaking your AVO will often result in breaching your bail conditions. This is a serious offence that can lead to further criminal charges in addition to things like losing your bail money and/or police keeping you in custody until the next hearing. You should seek the advice of a lawyer who specialises in criminal matters if you find yourself in this situation.
Often Family Violence Orders are involved in the breakup of a relationship or marriage and may impact any proceedings under the Family Law Act 1975 (Cth).
What should I do now?
There are a number of options available to you in relation to Family Violence Orders. It is important that you:
- Carefully read and understand the conditions of the order
- Comply with the conditions of the order
- Get legal advice from a lawyer as soon as possible