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In August 2019, the Council of Australian Governments sanctioned the Fourth Action plan of the “National Plan to Reduce Violence against Women and their Children 2010-2022”, finalizing agreements on five national priorities to reduce family, domestic, and sexual violence in all territories of Australia. This is only one of several initiatives the council has kick-started in its efforts to lower the domestic violence rate in Australia.
According to the United Nations, domestic violence also known as “domestic abuse” or “intimate partner violence” can be defined as “a pattern of behaviour in any relationship that is used to gain or maintain power and control over an intimate partner”. Under this interpretation, domestic violence exists in numerous forms; physical abuse, sexual abuse, emotional abuse, economic abuse, and psychological abuse or threats of action that coerce or intimidate another individual.
In 2005, reports from the Australian Bureau of Statistics revealed that physical assaults perpetrated against women occurred mostly in the home. Additionally, family members or friends were the most common guilty parties in all cases of physical assault against women, and 46% of those cases (totaling 780,500 women) were assaulted either by a current partner or a previous one. The numbers were worse for Indigenous women, who were estimated to be up to 40 times more likely to be subject to domestic violence than non-Indigenous women More recently, in 2016, data provided by police services around the country also unveiled that the Australian police responded, on the average, to 5000 domestic violence calls every week. That implies at least 260,000 domestic violence cases that year alone, excluding unreported cases.
These statistics prove the all-around importance of domestic violence laws in Australia. There is so much that the leaders and the law can do to inhibit domestic violence, not just for women but also men and children as well. Attaching a heavy penalty to the offence makes fewer people likely to perpetrate the crime. Allowing women or affected parties access to domestic violence protection orders (DVOs) against their abusers shields more vulnerable persons from domestic violence. Mandating abusers to undergo counselling enables the wave of deterrence to cover more ground. The government has a massive role to play in suppressing domestic violence or abuse in Australia and all its territories and that role it is currently playing will be examined in this text.
In every Australian state and territory, there are laws in force to the effect of bringing the rate of domestic violence in Australia to heel, especially now in the COVID-19 pandemic where many cities are under curfews or lockdowns in a bid to curtail the spread of the virus. Thus, the policymakers in each state and territory of the country have been duty-bound to also employ some non-legislative measures to ensure that, to a large extent, no member of the families required to stay home are facing domestic abuse, especially generally vulnerable parties such as women and children.
For the purposes of this text, it is salient to note that the domestic violence laws applicable in each state and territory of Australia have both similarities and disparities. Some states regulate issues such as what is considered domestic violence, the obligation of a police officer to intervene in suspected cases of domestic violence, or penalties, counselling, and rehabilitation programs for abusers in the same way, while others handle them differently. All in all, the content of this text will enable readers to be able to spot these nuances between all current and operational domestic violence laws applicable in the Commonwealth of Australia.
The principal law that currently governs domestic violence offences, apprehended violence orders, and other issues related to domestic violence in New South Wales is the Crimes (Domestic and Personal Violence) Act 2007 (NSW). All legislation referenced in this section will be obtained from this Act.
The objectives of this Act on the subjects of domestic and personal violence are enlisted in pt 2 of the Act. According to s 9(1), the objects of the Act in relation to domestic violence include safeguarding all persons—children inclusive—who experience or witness domestic violence, reducing and preventing acts of violence between individuals in domestic relationships, and instating laws that are in line with the Declaration on the Elimination of Violence against Women and the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child. Under the section, the methods of achievement, parliamentary acknowledgments, and limitations to the exercise of powers conferred by the Act are listed well (ss 9(2), (3), (4)).
The objects of the Act concerning personal violence (acts of violence committed by an individual who is not in a lawfully recognized “domestic relationship” (s 5) with the victim) are subsequently outlined in s 10.
In a case of domestic violence, a court or a registrar has the power—following an application—to make an apprehended domestic violence order (ADVO) (ss 16, 91(1), 23(1)). The essence of this order is to protect a person from apprehended or reasonably suspected domestic violence. The Act dubs the person for whose protection such an order is sought or made the “protected person”, while the person who the order is made against is the “defendant”.
An interim ADVO is also available to the court where it is deemed necessary or more appropriate (s 22(1)). This “interim court order” (s 22(2)) holds the same effect as a final ADVO.
Section 15 sanctions the making of an application for an ADVO by one or more persons against another person with whom they have been in a present or past domestic relationship. The scope of the term, “domestic relationship”, is broadly defined in s 5 of the Act and includes but is not limited to relationships such as marriage, de facto partners, intimate partners, present or past cohabiters, relatives (s 6), and more.
By s 48(2), only the person whose protection is sought or an intervening police officer can apply for an ADVO. While the Act attempts to be specific in terms of what grounds an ADVO can be made (ss 16-17), courts are still provided with some powers of discretion to determine if certain circumstances are suitable enough to make the same order.
The Act further mandates a court to make a final ADVO in a matter where a defendant pleads guilty to a domestic violence offence, stalking, or intimidation (s 39). Similar directives are also given for an interim court order in s 40.
Section 35 vests powers of discretion in a court or registrar with regard to the prohibitions and restrictions that will be placed on a defendant in an ADVO. This discretion also extends to the duration of the order (s 79). Generally, apprehended violence orders prohibit defendants from assaulting, threatening, stalking, harassing, intimidating, intentionally or recklessly destroying or damaging any property, or harming an animal that belongs to the protected person (s 36). There are also provisions for the disqualification of the defendant’s firearm licence.
If a protected person, a defendant, or a police officer wishes to vary or revoke an ADVO, an application to the court can be made (s 73).
The maximum penalty for the offence of knowingly contravening an apprehended violence order is imprisonment for 2 years, or 50 penalty units, or both (s 14(1)).
The intervention of a police officer in a matter pertaining to domestic abuse is only sanctioned by law when the prerequisite applications and orders have been made and warrants have been issued (s 88). Police arrest is also sanctioned in circumstances such as failure of a defendant to appear before court (s 69(1)), or harbouring the reasonable belief that a domestic violence offence is being or has recently been committed. However, such an arrest must always be subject to a warrant.
An application for an ADVO for the protection of a child under the NSW Act can only be instituted by a police officer (s 48(3)). Likewise, under s 38(2), an ADVO made for the protection of an adult will also cover any children with which that adult has a domestic relationship, except in special cases.
Under s 95, an external protection order can be registered with the Registrar of the appropriate court so that an apprehended violence order made in a different territory or jurisdiction will also apply and be enforceable within New South Wales (s 97(1)).
The New South Wales Government has committed $20 million in funds through its Domestic and Family Violence Innovation Fund and under the “NSW Domestic and Family Violence Blueprint for Reform 2016-2021: Safer Lives for Women, Men and Children”. Furthermore, government initiatives like the Men’s Telephone Counselling and Referral Service (MTCRS) and the Men’s Behaviour Change Programs (MBCPs) have also been implemented for the rehabilitation of male perpetrators of domestic and family violence in the state.
In September 2021, men convicted of domestic violence and driving offences in New South Wales were given access to rehabilitation through an online program called “LiViT”—live, virtual, and therapeutic.
The principal law that currently covers domestic violence offences, domestic violence orders, and other issues related to domestic violence in Queensland is the Domestic and Family Violence Protection Act 2012 (Qld). All legislation referenced in this section will be obtained from this Act.
In pt 1 div 2 of the Act, its main objects are underscored. These include safeguarding persons who fear or experience domestic violence while minimising the disruption to their lives, preventing or reducing domestic violence—especially the exposure of children to domestic violence, and ensuring that perpetrators of domestic violence are held liable for their actions. The division also delineates how these objects are to be achieved and the fundamental principles for administering the Act.
In a case of domestic violence, a court has the authority to—on application—make a domestic violence order (DVO) against a respondent for the benefit of an aggrieved. A domestic violence order can either be a protection order or a temporary protection order (s 23). The Act refers to a person for whose benefit a domestic violence order or a police protection notice is in force as the “aggrieved”. On the other hand, a person against whom such order or notice is in force is referred to as the “respondent”. While only one person can be named as the aggrieved in a DVO, more than one person can be named as a respondent. However, more than one respondent can be named in a police protection notice. Part 2 div 3 defines all “relevant relationships” that are covered by the Act. Besides the aggrieved, a DVO can also protect a child of the aggrieved, a child who normally lives with the aggrieved, a relative of the aggrieved, or an associate of the aggrieved—such as a spouse or coworker (s 24). The application for a DVO can be made by the aggrieved, an authorised person for the aggrieved, a police officer (subject to s 100), or a person acting under another Act for the aggrieved (s 32). There are also provisions for situations such as cross applications, DVOs in criminal and child protection proceedings, temporary protection orders, consent orders, and intervention orders (pt 3 divs 1A, 1B, 2, 3, 6).
Section 56 mandates a court making a DVO to impose certain conditions on the respondent(s) including but not restricted to good behaviour towards the aggrieved, prohibition of acts of domestic violence towards the aggrieved, non-exposure of underage parties to domestic violence, and suspension or revocation of respondent’s weapons licence (pt 3 div 8). The court has discretion over the appropriate duration of a DVO (pt 3 div 11). Section 86 provides the parties that may apply and the appropriate format for application for the variation of a DVO. If a respondent has been convicted of a domestic violence offence within 5 years before knowingly contravening a DVO, the maximum penalty is 5 years imprisonment or 240 penalty units. Otherwise, the maximum penalty is 3 years imprisonment or 120 penalty units (s 177).
The Act sanctions police arrest during an investigation if an officer reasonably suspects another person (a possible aggrieved) is in danger of personal injury or their property is in danger of being damaged (s 116). The detention period is subject to limitations (s 119), so the police officer must immediately apply for a protection order in which the person in custody is named as the respondent (s 118).
As previously mentioned, a child is always covered by a DVO that likewise covers an adult who is a relative of the child. The Act mandates the court to treat the safety of any involved underage parties as crucial.
An interstate order (s 173) made in a participating jurisdiction of the National Domestic Violence Order Scheme Act 2016 is recognized and enforceable within Queensland (s 176A(1)(a)).
On the Queensland Government website, ample information on how to access help (safe accommodation, financial assistance, legal aid, etc.) if you are experiencing domestic or family violence is made available. The Queensland Corrective Service also delivers targeted intervention programs to perpetrators of domestic violence, such as the Disrupting Family Violence Program (DFVP).
The principal law that currently regulates family violence offences, family violence intervention orders, and other issues related to family and domestic violence in Victoria is the Family Violence Protection Act 2008 (Vic). All legislation referenced in this section will be obtained from this Act.
The parliamentary recognitions as relates to family violence are stated in the preamble of the VIC Act. The purpose of the Act is subsequently outlined: to maximise the safety of children and adults who have experienced family violence, prevent and reduce family violence to the greatest extent possible, and promote the accountability of perpetrators of family violence for their actions (s 1). The methods of fulfilment and the commencement of the Act are also registered. (Notably, pre-eminence is put on police intervention in this Act, but we will carry on this examination in the same format as previously applied).
By s 74 of the Act, the court may make a final family violence intervention order (FVIO) for the protection of one or more family members if the court is satisfied, on the balance of probabilities, that the “respondent” has committed an act or acts of family violence against the “affected family member(s)” or is likely to do so. Section 76 further sanctions the making of an associated final order against an additional respondent. Section 77 mandates the protection of involved children under such orders as well.
Section 4 defines an “affected family member” as the subject of an application for an FVIO for the protection of their person or property, while a “respondent” is a person against which an application has been made, an FVIO has been made, or a family violence safety notice has been issued. Parties who may apply for an FVIO include a police officer, an affected family member, any other person with the written consent of the affected family member (if the affected family member is an adult), the parent of a child, and the guardian of an individual (s 45). The function of an FVIO is to protect a “family member” (s 8), “domestic partner” (s 9), or a “relative” (s 10) from acts of violence (family violence, economic abuse, and emotional or psychological abuse as defined in ss 5, 6, 7).
By s 81(1), the court possesses the power of discretion to include any conditions in an FVIO that the court may so deem necessary or desirable in the circumstances. Nonetheless, in s 81(2), the Act spells out specific conditions that the court may include in such an order, including the prohibition of acts of family violence, entering the protected person’s residence, communicating with the protected person, suspending or cancelling firearm licence (s 95), orders to assess eligibility for counselling and attend counselling (ss 129-130), and more. The court may specify the duration within which the FVIO will remain in force (s 97). On an application, the court may also vary or revoke an FVIO (s 100). The penalty for knowingly contravening an FVIO is level 7 imprisonment (2 years maximum), or a level 7 fine (240 penalty units maximum), or both (s 123).
A police officer possesses direction and detention powers (ss 14, 15) if the officer intends to apply for an FVIO or a family violence safety notice (FVSN), as long as the officer has reasonable grounds to suspect that the affected person is an adult and that the officer’s exercise of power is for the safety of the affected person or their property (s 13). The Act also provides circumstances in which a police officer must have a warrant or may not have a warrant before entering and searching the premises of a suspect. An application for an FVSN is made to another police officer, who is of the rank of Sergeant or a higher rank (s 24). Knowingly contravening an FVSN is also an offence and carries the same penalty as the contravention of an FVIO (s 37).
An FVIO for the protection of a child may either be merged or distinct from a protection order for their parent (s 47). This is subject to the discretion of the court. An FVSN may also be issued for the protection of a child (s 26(1)(b)(iii)).
Although pt 1 div 10 which provided for corresponding interstate orders has been repealed, its provisions are still applicable under this Act though s 227 which states that a corresponding interstate order from another participating jurisdiction becomes a recognized DVO in Victoria once it has been registered with a court in Victoria. It does not become a local DVO but it is still enforceable in the territory.
The Victorian Government has instated many initiatives to address violence against women and children, some of which are “Family violence rolling action plan 2017-2020”, “Ending Family Violence - Victoria's 10-year plan for change”, and “Implementing the recommendations of the Royal Commission into Family Violence”.
The principal law that currently rules over family violence offences, family violence orders, and other issues related to family and domestic violence in Tasmania is the Family Violence Act 2004 (Tas). All legislation referenced in this section will be obtained from this Act.
Section 3 provides that in the administration of the TAS Act, “the safety, psychological well being, and interests of people affected by family violence are the paramount considerations.”
In Tasmania, an application for a family violence order (FVO) is to be made to a court (s 15 (1)). Section 16(1) grants a court the power to make an FVO to protect an “affected person”—a person against whom family violence is directed (s 4). The offences against which an FVO protects an affected person include family violence, economic abuse, and emotional abuse or intimidation (as defined in ss 7, 8, 9). During court proceedings, the court also has the power to make an interim FVO (s 23). Section 14(1) provides that [only] a police officer of the rank of Sergeant or higher, or authorised by the Commissioner of Police, may issue a police family violence order (PFVO) to an individual if the officer is satisfied that the person has committed, or is likely to commit, a family violence offence. Section 15(2) specifies who can make an application for an FVO; these parties include a police officer, an affected person, an affected child (particularly an underage party that is capable of comprehending court proceedings), and any other party who is sanctioned by the court to make such an application.
The Act gives the court the discretion to include such conditions in an FVO that it considers necessary or desirable to protect an affected person or any other party named in the order from family violence (s 16(2)). Section 16(3), in addition, suggests conditions that the court may choose to include in the order depending on the circumstances, including the forfeiture of firearm possession. Section 18 lists important matters to be considered in the making of an FVO. An FVO remains in force for as long as the court considers it necessary or until a revocation order is made (s 19). With the court’s permission, an application for the variation, extension, or revocation of an FVO can be made by either of the parties named on the order. In the event of the breach of an FVO, a first offence attracts a maximum of 20 penalty units or 12 months imprisonment. A second offence attracts a maximum of 30 penalty units or 18 months imprisonment. A third offence attracts a maximum of 40 penalty units or 2 years imprisonment. A fourth or subsequent offence attracts a maximum penalty of 5 years imprisonment.
Sections 10-11 grant a police officer the power to enter and search certain premises and arrest and detain certain individuals based on a reasonably suspected family violence offence, and in some circumstances, without a warrant. A police officer may detain a person for a period that is reasonably required to determine the family violence charge(s), carry out a risk screening or safety audit, implement safety measures, and serve a PFVO or apply for an FVO (s 13(4)). The breach of a PFVO carries the same set of penalties as the contravention of an FVO.
As previously stated, an “affected child” (s 4) that is capable of comprehending court proceedings can apply to the court for an FVO.
Section 26 provides that a person with an external FVO may apply to the Clerk of Petty Sessions for its registration in Tasmania. The Clerk of Petty Sessions will subsequently refer the application to the court for adaptation and possible modification of the external order (s 27). A registered external FVO will have the same effect as a local FVO (s 28).
The Tasmanian Government has implemented a 10-year plan for the long-term reduction of violence against women and children—The Tasmanian Implementation Plan to complement the Australian National Plan to Reduce Violence against Women and their Children.
In 2011, South Australia’s Domestic Violence Act 1994 (SA) was repealed by Sch 1 cl 36 of the Intervention Orders (Prevention of Abuse) Act 2009 (SA). Thus, it has ceased to be in force since that year. A new bill is currently undergoing amendment procedures. While its provisions are yet to be passed and instated as full, bona fide laws, the available contents of this bill will still be briefly examined in this text. The Statutes Amendment (Domestic Violence) Act 2018 (SA) lists amendments that have been made to the Bail Act 1985 (SA), the Criminal Law Consolidation Act 1935 (SA), the Evidence Act 1929 (SA), and the Intervention Orders (Prevention of Abuse) Act 2009 (SA), all concerning domestic violence. Section 2, the commencement of the Amendment Act, states that the Act will come into force on a day to be fixed by proclamation.
The Marshall Liberal Government of South Australia has affirmed the safety of at-risk women and children as one of its top priorities. Since March 2018, the government has directed over $21 million in funds towards new anti-domestic violence measures to support South Australians. In addition, correctional programs for men who have engaged in Intimate Partner Violence (IPV) have been made available. Two of these programs are the Domestic and Family Violence Intervention Program (DFVIP) and the Family Violence Program for Aboriginal Men (FVP-AM).
The principal law that currently oversees family violence offences, violence restraining orders, and other issues related to family and domestic violence in Western Australia is the Restraining Orders Act 1997 (WA). All legislation referenced in this section will be obtained from this Act.
The long title of the WA Act states that it is “An Act to provide for orders to restrain people from committing family violence or personal violence by imposing restraints on their behaviour and activities, and for related purposes.”
Under s 11A, a court has the power to make a violence restraining order (VRO) if it has been satisfied that some act of personal violence has been committed or is likely to be committed by the “respondent” against the “person seeking to be protected”. The Act defines a “respondent” as “the person against whom a restraining order is sought”, and a “person seeking to be protected” as the person applying for a restraining order or on behalf of who a restraining order has been made. However, a VRO is not for persons who are in a family relationship (“family relationship” defined in s 4) (s 12A). The type of restraining order available for people in family relationships is known as a family violence restraining order (FVRO). FVROs are also made by the court under the same conditions as a VRO but with respect to acts of family violence. Section 13A outlines additional circumstances where either restraining orders may be made. An application for both types of restraining orders must be made by the person seeking to be protected (who must have attained the age of 16 years or above), or a police officer regardless of the person’s age (s 24A(1)). An FVRO can also be applied for by a child’s parent or guardian, a child welfare officer, a person’s legal guardian, or any other statutorily endorsed person (s 24A(2)). An application can also be made by telephone in cases where it is impracticable or too urgent for a physical hearing of the application (s 20(1)). During the remote hearing of a telephone application, an interim restraining order can be made until a traditional hearing can take place (s 23(3)). If a respondent does not object to the interim order within 21 days, the interim order becomes a final order (s 31). The courts are mandated to make a VRO or an FVRO against any person convicted of a “violent personal offence” (s 63A(1A)) against a victim and such restraining order must last for the lifetime of the offender (s 63A(1)(a)).
Section 10G dictates the restraints that may be placed by the court on the respondent in an FVRO to prevent them from committing further acts of violence against the person(s) seeking to be protected. Similar restraints are provided for a VRO in s 13. Every FVRO or VRO automatically prohibits a respondent from either owning a firearm or obtaining a firearm licence (s 14(1)). The duration of an FVRO may be specified in the order, or in the absence of such specification, the order will remain in force for 2 years from the date of its commencement(s 16A(2)). Section 16B provides the same for VROs. An application to vary or cancel a restraining order can be made by the person protected, a police officer, a prosecuting officer in a criminal court, or the respondent restricted by the order (s 45). The breach of an FVRO or a VRO attracts a fine of $10,000, or imprisonment for 2 years, or both (s 61).
A police officer is mandated to investigate suspected cases of family or domestic violence (s 62A). This may involve entering and searching a premises without a warrant in certain circumstances (s 62B). Following an investigation, the officer must either apply for a restraining order, make a police order, or provide a written record of why he or she did not take either of these actions (s 62C).
Under s 10E, a court may make an FVRO for the benefit of a child if the child has been or is likely to be exposed to family violence.
An interstate order must be properly registered for it to operate in the same way as a local FVRO or VRO in Western Australia (ss 75-77).
The Western Australia Government has a comprehensive list of support services and emergency contacts for those experiencing family and domestic violence in the state on its website.
The principal law that currently controls family violence offences, family violence orders, and other issues related to family and domestic violence in the Australian Capital Territory is the Family Violence Act 2016 (ACT). All legislation referenced in this section will be obtained from this Act.
The main aim of the ACT Act is stated under its title, “…to protect people from family violence, and for other purposes.” Section 6 of the Act further lists its objectives which are to prevent and reduce family violence, to protect people—including children—who fear, experience, or witness family violence, and to hold perpetrators of family violence accountable for their conduct.
Under s 16, an affected person may apply to the Magistrates Court for a family violence protection order. A police officer or a litigation guardian (for instance, the parent of a child) may also apply for this order on their behalf. Section 14 lists matters to be considered by the court when making a family violence order for an affected person, such as the welfare of any child that classifies as an affected person, the accommodation needs of the affected person, any prior acts of family or personal violence by the respondent towards the affected person, etcetera. The court may also make an interim order at any time before the application for a final order is decided (s 20). The recognized relationships under this Act between the affected person(s) and the respondent are defined in ss 9-11, including a family member, intimate partner, and relative. A final order may be made by a court after application if the court is satisfied on a balance of probabilities that the affected person has reasonable grounds to fear family violence by the respondent and that the respondent has committed acts of family violence against the affected person (s 34).
While the conditions of a family violence order must guarantee the safety of affected persons and children (s 36), the Act requires that the conditions should also be the least restrictive of the personal rights and liberties of the respondent as possible even as it performs its major aim (s 37). Section 38 provides a list of general conditions a court may include in an order as it deems necessary. The protected person, the applicant for the order (if the protected person is not the applicant), or the respondent may apply to amend the duration of a protection order (s 82). Sections 89-90 also provide for the variation or revocation of a protection order. Intentional contravention of a family violence order has a maximum penalty of 500 penalty units, imprisonment for 5 years, or both.
A police officer may apply to a judicial officer for an after-hours order against a respondent to protect an affected person (s 99). An after-hours order provides protection outside the business hours that the Magistrates Court normally sits during the day (s 98). Additional police powers are provided under the Act with regard to family violence and after-hour orders.
By s 16A, a child may also apply for a protection order in the same application as their parent if both child and parent are affected persons.
Section 119 provides that the following are recognized FVOs in the Australian Capital Territory: a local FVO, an interstate FVO made in a participating jurisdiction, and a foreign order that is a registered foreign order in any participating jurisdiction.
In the Australian Capital Territory, amongst numerous government efforts and initiatives, there is a Family Violence Intervention Program (FVIP) that commenced in 1998.
The principal law that currently governs domestic violence offences, domestic violence orders, and other issues related to domestic and family violence in the Northern Territory is the Domestic and Family Violence Act 2007 (NT). All legislation referenced in this section will be obtained from this Act.
The objectives of the NT Act are spelled out in s 3: to safeguard all persons—including children—who experience or are exposed to domestic violence, to ensure people who commit domestic violence take responsibility for their actions, and to generally reduce and prevent domestic violence. The methods for the achievement of these objectives are successively outlined.
An adult or child in a domestic relationship with the defendant, a representative of said adult or child, or a police officer may apply to a Local Court for a domestic violence order (DVO) (s 28). A child can only make this application with leave of the Court after satisfying a list of requirements listed in the Act. Either the Court or a registrar may decide the application under different circumstances (ss 32, 33). During the hearing of an application for a final DVO, the Court may also make an interim court DVO (s 35). The individuals seeking the protection of a DVO must either be in a domestic relationship—which encompasses family relationships, intimate personal relationships, and carer relationships (all defined in ss 9-12). Concerning the parties in a DVO, s 13 defines a “protected person” as a person for whose protection a DVO is sought or in force, and s 14 defines a “defendant” as the person against whom a DVO is sought or in force. A DVO may be made only if the authority issuing it is satisfied that there is sufficient justification for the protected person to fear acts of domestic violence (s 5) towards themselves from the defendant (s 18). Any court before which a person either pleads guilty to or is found guilty of a domestic violence-related offence may also issue a DVO against such a person to protect the victim (s 45).
Part 2.3 of the Act provides conditions that the Court may include in a DVO as it considers necessary, including an order for the defendant to partake in a rehabilitation program (s 24). A DVO will remain in force for the period stated in its content (s 27). A protected person, their representative, a police officer, or the defendant may apply for the variation or revocation of a DVO (s 48). An adult found guilty of knowingly contravening a DVO is liable to a penalty of 400 penalty units or imprisonment for 2 years (s 121(1)).
Few special powers are available to the police under the NT Act. Section 84 sanctions the removal and detention of a person to prevent an impending risk of harm to another person or damage to property. Section 85 allows a defendant who has been excluded from a place (for instance, a protected person’s residence) to enter such a place to retrieve said defendant’s personal property only when accompanied by a police officer.
A police officer or child protection officer must apply for a Local Court DVO to protect a child if the officer reasonably believes the child's safety and/or wellbeing has or is likely to be adversely affected by domestic violence (s 29).
An external order that is properly registered is considered the same as a Local Court DVO in its effect and application (s 97).
There are several domestic violence resource centres located in the Northern Territory, including Alice Springs Women’s Shelter, Central Australia Women’s Legal Services (CAWLS), and Darwin Aboriginal & Islander Women’s Shelter (DAIWS).
If an individual is found guilty of a domestic violence offence in Australia, the offence will show up as a disclosable court outcome (DCO) on the results of their police check.
Individuals can obtain a national police clearance online via the Australian National Character Check - ANCC® website.
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