“There are roughly 180 reports of domestic and family violence incidents to Queensland Police every day and many more go unreported,” Minister for Women, Shannon Fentiman remarked this year. One woman is killed nearly every week in Australia due to domestic violence. Whilst it is most commonly women who are victims of domestic violence, men are also victims and can seek protection from the law. With the ever increasing awareness of domestic violence in Australia’s society, it is important to know what domestic violence is, does it apply to your situation, where can you get help and what are your rights.
If you are a victim of domestic violence and benefit from a domestic violence order or police protection notice then you are formally known as the ‘aggrieved’. A ‘respondent’ is the person against whom the domestic violence order or police protection notice is made.
WHAT IS DOMESTIC VIOLENCE?
The Domestic and Family Violence Protection Act 2012 (Qld) (“DVPA”) defines domestic violence as behaviour towards another person whom they are in an intimate, family or informal care relationship with, that:-
- is physically or sexually abusive; or
- is emotionally or psychologically abusive; or
- is economically abusive; or
- is threatening; or
- is coercive; or
- in any other way controls or dominates the second person and causes the second person to fear for the second person’s safety or wellbeing or that of someone else.
This can include (but is not limited to) the following behaviour:-
- causing personal injury to a person or threatening to do so;
- coercing a person to engage in sexual activity or attempting to do so;
- damaging a person’s property or threatening to do so;
- depriving a person of the person’s liberty or threatening to do so;
- threatening a person with the death or injury of the person, a child of the person, or someone else;
- threatening to commit suicide or self-harm so as to torment, intimidate or frighten the person to whom the behaviour is directed;
- causing or threatening to cause the death of, or injury to, an animal, whether or not the animal belongs to the person to whom the behaviour is directed, so as to control, dominate or coerce the person;
- unauthorised surveillance of a person;
- unlawfully stalking a person.
SO WHO DOES THE LAW PROTECT?
The DVPA protects those who have, or are in, intimate personal relationships, family relationships or an informal care relationship. An intimate personal relationship includes married couples, de-facto couples, registered relationships and couples who are dating or engaged.
A family relationship exists between two people if one of them is, or was, a relative of the other including children, step-relatives, aunts, uncles, nephews, half-siblings, in-laws and so on.
An informal care relationship occurs when a relationship exists between two people and one of them is, or was, dependent on the other (i.e carer) for help in any activity of daily living. Note however that an informal care relationship does not refer when it is done under a commercial arrangement such as a blue nurse or help from a volunteer organisation.
Family, Friends & Children
The followings persons can also be protected by a domestic violence order:-
- a child of the person aggrieved;
- a child who usually lives with the aggrieved;
- a relative of the aggrieved;
- an associate of the aggrieved.
Children can be protected if the court is satisfied that it ‘is necessary or desirable’ to protect the child from associated domestic violence or being exposed to domestic violence committed by the respondent. Exposure includes hearing, seeing or otherwise experiencing domestic violence including helping a family member or seeing property damaged in the home.
WHAT CAN THE LAW DO TO PROTECT ME?
A Domestic Violence Order (DVO) is an order made by the court to help protect you, your children and any other people named on the order against someone who is violent. The DVO will contain conditions that the Respondent must obey or they will be charged with contravening a DVO.
Conditions contained in a DVO must include the following conditions:-
- is to be of good behaviour and not commit domestic violence against the aggrieved or any other named person on the DVO;
- must not commit any associated domestic violence against the aggrieved person or a child; and
- must not expose any child named in the DVO to domestic violence.
The court has the power to make or vary any other condition that it considers is necessary in the circumstances and desirable. Some examples of conditions that have been imposed against respondents include:-
- they cannot contact you or any other person named on the DVO;
- they cannot attend your residence (including a house you formerly shared together) or workplace;
- they are not permitted to attend a child’s school or day care centre;
- they must return any property belonging to you within a certain time.
The court will in certain circumstances allow them to return to the residence to retrieve property belonging to them. This is usually done with a police escort to ensure that no further domestic violence occurs.
If a DVO is made against someone, they are not to possess a weapon or a weapons licence. They will have to hand in all licences and guns that they own to the police once the order is made.
APPLYING FOR A DOMESTIC VIOLENCE ORDER
DVO applications can be made one of two ways.
If you have been a victim of domestic violence you are able to make an application yourself for a DVO against the respondent by attending your local Magistrate’s court and filling out the relevant forms. There are many community groups and counselling services that are able to assist you with this process including attending court with you on the day.
When making an application you will need to include details of the following:-
- when it happened;
- where it happened;
- what happened;
- how it happened;
- who was there;
- any injuries you suffered; and
- how you felt – eg did you feel threatened, fearful or scared.
As police are often the first to attend an incident they will assess the situation and if they reasonably suspect that domestic violence has occurred and there is danger that it may occur again they can take the respondent into custody for up to 4 hours and may do either of the following:-
- Make a police application for a DVO;
- Apply to a magistrate for a temporary protection order; or
- Issue a police protection notice (includes an application for a protection order).
A police protection notice is a notice to the respondent to be of good behaviour and not commit acts of domestic violence. This notice remains valid and enforceable until the court makes a decision on the DVO application.
A temporary protection order is an order that is made by a Magistrate that only lasts a short time, generally until the matter is before the court or when the matter is finalised either by a DVO being made or the application denied or withdrawn.
WHERE TO GO FOR HELP
Queensland Police – 000
Domestic Violence Hotline (Women) (24/7) – 1800 811 811
Domestic Violence Hotline (Men) – 1800 600 636