Why are there more Intervention Orders in the Melbourne Magistrates Court?

14 December 2012

Over the past years, there has been a great increase in the number of Court Applications made to the Melbourne Magistrates’ Court for the granting of Intervention Orders under Victoria’s Family Violence legislation.  There may be a number of reasons for this. 

The newspaper headlines shouting that there has been an increase in the incidence of family law violence may not be an accurate interpretation of what is actually happening.  I think that there are two main reasons for the increase in the number of family violence cases brought before the courts in Victoria.

1. Increase in the reporting of Family Violence to Police

As a result of an increase of community education on the unacceptability of violence in the home, and the greater focus of media organisations on the issue, the victims of family violence have found their voices and have spoken out by contacting the police when threatened.

2. Police taking reports of Family Violence more seriously

In the past, when a client came for legal advice on family law related matters, clients would be distressed about their reports of family violence (or threats of family violence) to police not being taken seriously.  Often, the Police would not even attend.  If they did attend, often they would placate those involved and take no action.  I believe there has been a significant change in the way in which Police deal with family violence (or threats of family violence) in Victoria. 

These days, it is unusual for the Police not to attend.  And when they attend, they usually follow through with a Court Application for an Intervention Order on behalf of the victim and often an immediate Urgent Interim Intervention Order is made by the Court.  The Office of Public Prosecutions has also implemented a policy of referring all family violence victims to social workers for support.  Such support is essential as otherwise victims may be overwhelmed by the added stress and anxiety created by court proceedings.

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