Family Violence Safety Notices and Intervention Orders under the Family Violence Protection Act Victoria

In Victoria, legal protection is available for family members and their associates who need protection from a family member who is subjecting them to family violence.  Family violence has a broad legal definition which includes abuse which is physical, sexual, emotional, threatening, economically abusive, or, in any other way controls or dominates the family member and causes that family member to feel fear for his/her safety.  Also, if a child is exposed to family violence by one family member against another family member, that is seen as constituting abuse against that child as well.  (For example, if a child sees or hears an assault or heated argument, that would constitute abuse against that child).

If a person feels threatened by family violence, he/she should telephone the police on the 000 emergency number.  The Police will usually respond quickly and they may issue an on-the-spot Family Violence Safety Notice.  This step is usually taken by the Police if it is after-hours and there is a reasonable belief that the issuing of a Safety Notice is necessary:

(i) to ensure the safety of the affected family member; or

(ii) to preserve any property of the affected family member; or

(iii) to protect a child who has been subjected to family violence committed by the respondent

The Safety Notice will operate to protect the affected family member from any further family violence pending the matter being referred to the Magistrates Court (usually within 72 hours).  The Safety Notice can include conditions such as a prohibition against making contact or being within a certain distance.

If there is no immediate threat to a person’s safety, a person can attend any local Magistrates Court in Victoria where the Magistrate can issue an Intervention Order under the Family Violence Protection Act if satisfied, on the balance of probabilities, that the respondent has committed family violence against the affected family member and is likely to do so again.

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