DFV Protection Orders
Protection orders are a key component of a response to domestic and family violence (DFV) with the purpose of protecting against and minimising the risk of further violence.
How a domestic violence order can help
A domestic violence order is made by a magistrate in court and can protect you and others by making a person committing violence against you be on good behaviour and not commit domestic violence.
You can also ask for conditions to be added to the order, such as making it illegal for the violent person (the respondent) to come within a certain distance of where you live.
You can ask the police to apply to the court for a DVO. Otherwise you can apply directly to the court yourself, or you can ask a lawyer, community/welfare worker, friend or family member to apply for you
Women’s Legal Services in each state can provide information and free advice on obtaining DV Protection Orders. See more information here.
Protection orders are available in all states and territories of Australia. Different terminology is used in each state/territory jurisdiction as outlined below.
When supporting and responding to an employee experiencing DFV here are some practical ways to assist in your workplace role:
- Ask the employee if they have considered a protection order
- Suggest that the workplace be included in the protection order and indicate that your organisation supports and encourages this action should the employee choose to take it
- Assist the employee with points to put forward when they are making their protection order to make the order as effective as possible in minimising risk to safety in relation to the specific nature of their work, e.g.
- distance to car parking,
- mobile employees
The above will also form a key part of your workplace safety planning as part of a workplace response to and policy on DFV.
What is a Protection Order?
- An order made by a court restricting the ability of a perpetrator to contact or approach a victim/s.
- A primary means of protection for victims of DFV to protect them from further abuse.
- A person convicted of breaching a Protection Order may obtain a criminal record however to be named as a respondent on a Protection Order is not a criminal offence
- Each Australian state and territory has different terminology for a protection order:
On what grounds can you apply for a Protection Order?
- When abusive behaviours have occurred in a domestic or family setting including physical, sexual, emotional and psychological abuse, damage to property and threats of these actions.
- There are some variations between states on the criteria that applies however there is general consistency on the above.
- Economic abuse is also grounds to apply for a Protection Order in some States and Territories.
How does a Protection Order work?
- The Order provides court-imposed restrictions on perpetrator’s movements and actions. It prohibits further acts of abuse or violence against the victim/s.
- A Protection Order can exclude the perpetrator from the family home or any other relevant property/premises, such as the workplace. It may also prevent the perpetrator from contacting the victim, including by email or phone.
Who can apply for a Protection Order?
- Any person in a current or former domestic relationship with the perpetrator or abusive person, as well as other affected family members can make an application for a Protection Order.
- In some states and territories the definition of family are expanded to include Aboriginal, Torres Strait Islander and migrant kinship structures.
- Police are able to apply for a Protection Order to protect an affected person in all Australian states and territories.
How do you apply for a Protection Order?
- A simple first step is to go to the police for assistance. Police can apply for a Protection Order for the victim or advise the victim on how to apply at their local court house.
- Immediate action – Interim Order: To protect a person and/or their children if they are at serious risk of harm an interim order can generally be obtained quickly. An interim order can be made without the perpetrator appearing in court.
- Final orders may take place following a hearing before a magistrate who can make an order for a longer period. This will usually occur in a magistrates court or equivalent.
- Support in court: Depending on the state or territory, Support may be available for victims through the court process, including an experienced support person to accompany the victim to court and supporting the victim when they arrive at the court house before called into the court in a safe, secure room.It is important to point this out as part of explaining Protection Orders – as facing the perpetrator in court may be perceived as a source of further trauma for the victim and may even stop them going ahead with an Order. This trauma can be minimised with support. Information on court support can be found at Victim Support Service in South Australia, and Queensland Courts Support Services in QLD.
- The exact process to apply for a Protection Order differs between all States and Territories, however the above apply on a national basis.
If a Protection Order is breached
- Breaching a Protection Order is a criminal offence.
- A person convicted of breaching a Protection Order may receive a criminal record, which can restrict their ability to gain future employment or travel outside of Australia.
- Punishments for breaching a Protection Order are handed down by the courts in each respective state and territory.
- Punishment may differ between states or territories.
- Maximum penalties range from a five-year custodial sentence to fines up to $75,000.
Additional points to consider
Consider how your organisation would respond to:
- A situation where one employee has a protection order in relation to another employee in the same workplace
- A situation where work technology had been used either in receiving abuse or perpetrating abuse relevant to a protection order
- Two employees with protection orders against each other
Domestic and family violence and workplace response is a specialist area with many areas to explore and opportunities for organisations to
- lead on progressive policy and establish a reputation for best practice in their industry; and
- ensure compliance with Workplace Health and Safety and other legislative frameworks in managing risk.
Contact DV Work Aware in your state:
Referrals to specialist Domestic and Family Violence Services
Australian Capital Territory
New South Wales