How Does the 'Domestic and Family Violence Protection Act' Protect Families?

A 2017 ABS study revealed the magnitude of our national domestic violence problem, finding that:

  • One in 6 women and one in 17 men have experienced partner violence
  • One in 6 women and one in 10 men experienced abuse before the age of 15

Domestic violence can have far-reaching and devastating consequences for victims, and these sobering statistics demonstrate the need for change.

If you or a loved one are in a situation involving domestic violence, it is important to understand that there are legal options available which can help keep you and your family safe from further violence.

Here, we discuss the Domestic and Family Violence Protection Act 2012, and how it provides courts with the power to stop domestic violence.

What is the Domestic and Family Violence Protection Act?

In Queensland, domestic violence is dealt with by the Domestic and Family Violence Protection Act 2012, which describes itself as "an Act to provide for protection of a person against violence committed or threatened by someone else if a relevant relationship exists between the persons."

The Domestic and Family Violence Protection Act is the basis by which courts may make orders regarding domestic violence, and defines domestic violence as follows:

(1) Domestic violence means behaviour by a person (the first person) towards another person (the second person) with whom the first person is in a relevant relationship that

(a) is physically or sexually abusive; or

(b) is emotionally or psychologically abusive; or

(c) is economically abusive; or

(d) is threatening; or

(e) is coercive; or

(f) 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.

The Act defines the aforementioned relevant relationship as being either an intimate personal relationship, family relationship or informal care relationship.

The Act also gives examples of behaviour which constitutes domestic violence, including things like:

  • Causing personal injury to a person or threatening to do so
  • Damaging a person's property or threatening to do so
  • Coercing a person to engage in sexual activity
  • Unlawfully stalking a person

It is important to note that the definiton of Domestic Violence is extremely broad and does not always have to be physical. Emotional, sexual or economic abuse can also constitute domestic violence, and provide the grounds for the courts to intervene.

How Can The Domestic and Family Violence Protection Act Protect My Family?

One of the most important powers that the Domestic and Family Violence Protection Act has is allowing individuals to apply for protection orders, also known as domestic violence orders (DVOs).

A domestic violence order is a protection order issued by a court which is designed to protect individuals in a domestic violence situation.

All DVOs have certain standard conditions, which state that the respondent must be of good behaviour towards the protected person as well as anyone else named in the order. However, the court also has the power to impose any other conditions which it deems will keep the protected person safe, and which the respondent will then be legally bound to follow.

These conditions can include preventing the respondent from:

  • Approaching relatives or friends (if these individuals are named in the order)
  • Approaching the aggrieved person at home or work
  • Going to a child's school
  • Restraining a person from returning to a previously shared home

DVOs can also protect an individual's family and friends if they are listed in the order.

There are two types of DVOs: a protection order which typically lasts for five years, and a temporary protection order which is shorter-term but can be organised more quickly if you are in urgent need of protection.

If you are in a situation where you are in danger right now, you can request a temporary protection order as well as a protection order at the same time; the temporary protection order will keep you safe until the protection order is approved.

It is worth noting that DVOs can also be made on behalf of an individual suffering from domestic violence.

If you are considering making an application to the Court for a DVO, it is helpful to speak with a family lawyer who can advise you as to what conditions should be in the order and help make the application.

What Happens if the Respondent Breaches the DVO?

If a DVO is approved by the court, it is illegal for the respondent to disobey any of the conditions. Breaching a DVO is a criminal offence which will be added to the respondent's criminal history, and can result in serious consequences including imprisonment.

Need More Help Understanding How the Domestic & Family Violence Protection Act Can Protect Your Family?

If you or a loved one are suffering from domestic violence in QLD, Pullos Lawyers is here to help.

Our experienced team of family lawyers are familiar with cases involving domestic violence as well as the nuances of the Domestic and Family Violence Protection Act, and can make a domestic violence application to the Magistrates Court to arrange a DVO with conditions that will keep you and your family safe.

To find out more about how we can help, get in touch with our lawyers today via email, or call us in our Gold Coast office on (07) 5526 3646, or in Brisbane on (07) 3144 1641.

If you are in immediate danger, please call 000 for police or ambulance. For any other domestic violence concerns, there are also a number of free, 24-hour hotlines you can call.

1800 Respect national helpline:

1800 737 732

Women's Crisis Line:

1800 811 811

Men's Referral Service:

1300 766 491

Lifeline (24 hour crisis line):

131 114