Domestic Violence

Under Queensland law, people may apply for special protection in cases of domestic violence. The Courts have the power to issue domestic violence orders which seek to protect an aggrieved (the person affected) from the respondent (the person alleged to have committed domestic violence).

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What is Domestic Violence?

  • physical or sexual abuse
  • emotional or psychological abuse
  • economic abuse
  • threatening behaviour
  • coercive behaviour or
  • behaviour that in any way controls or dominates or causes a person to fear for their personal safety or wellbeing by one person towards another person.


Domestic Violence Orders

Domestic violence orders (DVOs) are official documents issued by courts to stop threats or acts of domestic violence. The ‘aggrieved’ is the person who needs protection from domestic violence, and the ‘respondent’ is the person from whom the aggrieved seeks protection.

The application for DVOs can be made not only by the aggrieved but also a police officer, solicitor, the guardian or power of attorney of the aggrieved, or a party to a child protection proceeding (in the Children’s Court).[1]

Temporary protection orders and final protection orders are the two types of DVOs that courts can issue. It is important to comply with DVOs and their conditions; any contravention is a criminal offence and could result in criminal charges.

Temporary Protection Orders

A temporary protection order (TPO) is a short-term order issued to protect an aggrieved from domestic violence until the application is decided by the court. TPOs are granted if the court is satisfied that:

  • the aggrieved is in a relevant relationship covered by the law; and
  • at least one act of domestic violence has been committed.[2]

TPOs can be made without the knowledge of the respondent, and a request can be made that the matter be considered on an urgent basis, where an order can be made on the same day.

Final Protection Orders

To make a final protection order, in addition to the above conditions, the court must also be satisfied that the order is necessary or desirable to protect the aggrieved, their children and any other people named in the application.

Final protection orders ordinarily continue for five years and can be made:

  • After a court hearing with all parties present;
  • By the parties agreeing to the order being made; or
  • If the respondent does not attend or participate in the court process.[3]

If circumstances change, either party can apply to change the order. This can mean changing a condition, the specified time frame or the people named.

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Conditions of DVOs

All DVOs have two compulsory conditions stating that:[4]

  1. The respondent must be of good behaviour towards the aggrieved and must not commit domestic violence; and
  2. The respondent must be of good behaviour towards any person named in the order and not commit associated domestic violence against the named person.

The court can also order other conditions necessary and desirable in the interests of the aggrieved and named persons.[5] In imposing other conditions, ‘the safety, protection and wellbeing of people who fear or experience domestic violence, including children, are paramount’.[6]


Conditions relating to behaviour of respondent

DVOs may prohibit a respondent from behaving in a manner that is or is likely to lead to domestic violence against the aggrieved or named person.[7]

DVOs may prohibit a respondent from contacting the aggrieved and others listed on the order.[8] Examples include:

  • Prohibiting contact with the aggrieved in any way, including in person, by phone or social media
  • Prohibit someone else from contacting the aggrieved on the respondent’s behalf
  • Specify that the respondent stay a certain distance away from a particular place, like the residence or workplace of an aggrieved
  • Restrictions on seeing children, going to their school or day care centre

Importantly, the respondent is not prohibited from asking their lawyer to contact or locate the aggrieved or named persons.[9]

Ouster condition

If the court makes this condition, it may mean the respondent must leave the accommodation they share with the aggrieved, even if it is owned or rented in their name.[10] While the court will ask for the respondent’s opinion before issuing this condition, the court can still make the order if the respondent disagrees.

In making an ouster condition relating to the aggrieved person’s usual place of residence, the court must consider various factors including the safety of the aggrieved and any child living with them, continuity and stability in the care of the child, and whether the respondent has any particular accommodation needs based on disability or impairment.[11]

If the respondent is ordered to leave the premises, the court can allow them to return with a police officer to collect any personal items.[12] DVConnect can help put respondents in touch with services that support them through the process and find alternative accommodation.

Other conditions

The court may require the respondent to return specified personal property to the aggrieved or allow the aggrieved to recover their personal property.[13] This can include entering certain premises (like the respondent’s residence) when the respondent is not there and may involve supervision by a police officer.[14]

The court may also limit contact between the respondent and their child, but this will only be to the extent necessary for the child’s safety, protection and wellbeing.[15]

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Consenting without admissions

A respondent may choose to agree to have a DVO put in place without admitting or agreeing that domestic violence has occurred. This removes the need for lengthy, expensive and distressing court proceedings.

Consenting to a DVO will still have implications for any related family law proceedings or child protection matters. It can also prevent the retention of weapons licences. See below for consequences for employment and your future.


Weapons licences

Weapons licences will be affected by DVOs. Temporary protection orders suspend weapons licences and final protection orders cancel weapons licences.[16] Within one day of the court making an order, the respondent must surrender their weapons and licences to a police officer. The respondent will also be prevented from applying for a weapons licence for five years from the date of the final protection order.


Consequences for employment and your future

Because DVOs are civil court orders, they will not appear on a respondent’s criminal history. However, contravention of any DVO is a criminal offence. If charged successfully, this will appear in the respondent’s criminal history. The offence carries a maximum penalty of 3 years imprisonment or a maximum fine of 120 penalty units ($16,014). This is doubled if the respondent had been convicted of contravening a DVO in the previous 5 years.

If a DVO is made in Queensland, it can be registered and enforced in all Australian states and territories and in New Zealand. Similarly, a DVO made in another Australian state or territory or in New Zealand can be registered for enforcement in Queensland.

DVOs can also have consequences for employment and any related proceedings, for example:

  • Required disclosure of the DVO to a professional body (note, a card holder does not need to disclose a DVO to Blue Card, this only applies if a person has been charged with breaching a DVO);
  • Negative impact on a family law matter or child protection proceedings, on issues like child custody arrangements;
  • Suspension or cancellation of your weapons or security licence.
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Voluntary intervention orders

The court can make an intervention order with the consent of the respondent requiring them to go to a domestic violence intervention program (also known as behaviour change program) and/or counselling.[17] This order can be made only if the program or counselling can be provided at a location reasonably convenient to the respondent.[18]

Once the order is made, an approved provider of the program or counselling must assess whether the respondent is suitable to participate in the program or counselling. They will consider the respondent’s character, personal history, language skills, mental or physical disabilities, and other relevant matters.[19]


How can Robertson O’Gorman Solicitors help you?

At Robertson O’Gorman Solicitors we know that domestic violence affects different people in different ways.  Police officers may take out applications that you are dissatisfied with. Private Applications may be required where Police exercise their discretion not to intervene.   Your life may be restricted by an order that has been made.

If you would like help now to understand the systems and processes involved in domestic violence matters, please contact one of our specialists today.

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More information

Information for an Aggrieved in a Police ApplicationInformation for a Respondent in a Police ApplicationInformation for an Applicant in a Private ApplicationInformation for a Respondent in a Private Application

Footnotes

[1] Domestic and Family Violence Protection Act 2012 (Qld) s 32(1).

[2] Domestic and Family Violence Protection Act 2012 (Qld) s 45.

[3] Domestic and Family Violence Protection Act 2012 (Qld) s 39(2)(a).

[4] Domestic and Family Violence Protection Act 2012 (Qld) s 56.

[5] Domestic and Family Violence Protection Act 2012 (Qld) s 57(1).

[6] Domestic and Family Violence Protection Act 2012 (Qld) s 57(2).

[7] Domestic and Family Violence Protection Act 2012 (Qld) ss 58(a)-(b).

[8] Domestic and Family Violence Protection Act 2012 (Qld) ss 58(c)-(f).

[9] Domestic and Family Violence Protection Act 2012 (Qld) s 60.

[10] Domestic and Family Violence Protection Act 2012 (Qld) s 63(1)(a).

[11] Domestic and Family Violence Protection Act 2012 (Qld) s 64(2).

[12] Domestic and Family Violence Protection Act 2012 (Qld) ss 65-66.

[13] Domestic and Family Violence Protection Act 2012 (Qld) s 59(1).

[14] Domestic and Family Violence Protection Act 2012 (Qld) s 59(2).

[15] Domestic and Family Violence Protection Act 2012 (Qld) s 62.

[16] Weapons Act 1990 (Qld) ss 27A, 28A.

[17] Domestic and Family Violence Protection Act 2012 (Qld) s 69(1).

[18] Domestic and Family Violence Protection Act 2012 (Qld) s 69(2).

[19] Domestic and Family Violence Protection Act 2012 (Qld) s 72.