Domestic Violence Orders in Brisbane
Domestic Violence Orders in Brisbane and elsewhere in Queensland (also known as Protection Orders) are court orders that are made when a person has experienced or fears family violence from another person. Protection Orders are made with conditions that restrict the respondent’s behaviour towards the protected person for the period that the order is in place. If the respondent breaches the order’s conditions they may be charged with a criminal offence.
Courts make protection orders under the Domestic and Family Violence Protection Act 2012. The act aims to stop domestic violence, to protect victims and to make sure that perpetrators are held accountable.
‘Domestic violence’ is described in the act as behaviour that is:
- physically, sexually, emotionally, psychologically or economically abusive;
- threatening or coercive; or
- seeks in any way to dominate or control the person and makes them fear for their safety or wellbeing.
The aggrieved and the respondent must be in a ‘relevant relationship’.
What Is A ‘Relevant Relationship’?
A ‘relevant relationship’ includes:
- Married and de facto couples and people who are dating;
- Family relationships;
- Informal care relationships
Who Can Apply For Domestic Violence Orders in Brisbane?
To obtain a protection order in Brisbane or elsewhere in Queensland, an application can be made in court by the person seeking protection with or without a lawyer. It can also be made by a police officer, by a person authorised by the aggrieved (the person seeking protection) to apply on their behalf, the aggrieved’s guardian or attorney under an enduring power of attorney or a person who is a party to a child protection proceeding (but only where the application is made in the Children’s Court).
An order can also be made to protect any child, relative or associate of the aggrieved who is also in need of protection. The application must explain why the other person/s need protection from the respondent.
An aggrieved aged under 18 can apply for a Proptection Order against a person they are in an intimate personal relationship or an informal care relationship with. However, they cannot apply for an order against a family member.
Making Protection Orders In Queensland
Domestic violence orders in Brisbane and the rest of Queensland are usually made in the Magistrates Court (or Children’s Court if the respondent is under 18). A Protection Order will be made if the court believes that there has been violence and the order is necessary or desirable to protect the aggrieved person from violence in the future.
The Supreme Court and District Court also have the power to make Protection Orders.
Police Powers To Make Domestic Violence Orders in Brisbane
When the Queensland police believe family violence has occurred, they may issue a Police Protection Notice to the person responsible.
When police attend a place where they suspect family violence has occurred, they have the power to search the property and seize any item that might have been used to commit violence.
Police can take the offender into custody. If they do not take the offender into custody, they can issue a Police Protection Notice. This is a short-term (DVO) Domestic Violence Order that directs the person to be of good behaviour and remains in force until the matter is decided by a court.
The Protection Order Application Process
When a Protection Order application is filed, a date is set for the matter to be mentioned in court. The police will arrange service of the application on the respondent. At the first court mention, a number of things may happen:
- The matter may be adjourned for the respondent to obtain legal advice;
- Parties may try to agree on suitable conditions for an order. If they reach an agreement, final orders can be made;
- The respondent may fail to attend court despite having been served. If this happens, it’s likely a final order will be made;
- The respondent may make an undertaking to be of good behaviour towards the aggrieved. The aggrieved may choose to withdraw their application if this occurs. However, an undertaking can’t be enforced by a court or by the police;
- The matter may be adjourned for a defended hearing at a later date.
Defended Protection Order Hearings
If a respondent defends a Protection Order application, the matter will go to a contested hearing. At the hearing, the applicant must convince the court that it is more likely than not that the aggrieved requires an order for their protection by calling evidence and making submissions.
The hearing will take place in a closed court. This means that the public cannot attend except with the court’s leave, and identifying details cannot be published.
The aggrieved must be treated as a ‘special witness’ in a protection order hearing. This means that the court can order that the respondent and anyone else be excluded from the courtroom while they give evidence, or that their evidence be pre-recorded and videotaped and played to the court.
A Protection Order generally remains in place for five years, but if there are special reasons, an order can be made for longer or shorter. If either party is unhappy with the outcome of a contested hearing, it can initiate an appeal, but it must do so within a time limit.
Conditions The Court May Impose With Domestic Violence Orders in Brisbane
The court can impose any conditions on a Protection Order that it believes are necessary to protect the aggrieved and any other person who it is satisfied is at risk from the respondent.
All protection orders will include conditions requiring the respondent to be of good behaviour towards the aggrieved and not commit further family violence, and, where applicable, not to expose children to family violence.
If an order is made against a respondent who holds a weapons licence, the license is automatically revoked and the respondent must surrender their weapons.
Other conditions the court might impose include:
- that the respondent must not locate or approach the protected person/s or attempt to do so;
- that the respondent must not contact or attempt to contact the protected person/s or have someone else do so;
- that the respondent must return property that belongs to the protected person;
- conditions relating to contact with a child;
- conditions to protect the life of an unborn child.
Police can order a respondent to stay in a specified place until they have been served with a Protection Order application, a Police Protection Notice or a Protection Order.
Breach Of Domestic Violence Orders In Brisbane
Breaching the terms of a Protection Order is a criminal offence Queensland and it carries a maximum penalty of imprisonment for three years or a fine of 120 penalty units. If the offender has been found guilty of breaching an order in the previous five years, then the penalty increases.
It is a defence to breaching a protection order if the person has not been advised of the existence of the order.