In the ACT Protection Orders are made under the Domestic Violence and Protection Orders Act 2008. They are designed to protect people who are experiencing violence or who have reason to fear violence. There are three kinds of orders that can be made – a domestic violence order (DVO), a personal protection order (PPO) and a workplace protection order (WPO).
To apply for a DVO you must show you are a relevant person in a relevant relationship. A DVO can be made for up to 2 years. For the other protection orders the applicant must be over the age of 18 or have an adult to represent them. Those orders can be made for up to 12 months. If you are applying for a protection order in the ACT you must complete the application form, affidavit and information sheet and file them at the Magistrates Court. Forms are available from the court or online at the Magistrates Court website.
You can apply for an interim order if your application is urgent. If the court does makes an interim order it comes into effect once the respondent is served with a copy of it. After a final order is made, an application can be made to the court if it becomes necessary to vary or extend the orders.
A relevant relationship is an intimate relationship between two people for the purposes of a DVO. It includes civil unions or partnerships. Whether you are in an intimate relationship can be shown by things such as:
- The extent to which you are mutually dependent. This also includes financial dependence.
- The length of your relationship.
- If you are in or have been in a sexual relationship.
- Your involvement in each other’s personal life. This also includes the care and support of children or dependents.
- The level of commitment of you both to a shared life.
A relevant person is:
- A former or current domestic partner. It includes a spouse or civil union partner. It includes those under the age of 18, and they can be of the same or of the opposite sex.
- A relative.
- A child of your domestic partner or former domestic partner.
- A parent of your child.
- Someone who is/has been in a relevant relationship with you.
Conduct is domestic violence if it:
- Threatens to cause or causes, physical or personal injury.
- Threatens to cause or causes, property damage.
- Is a domestic violence offence.
- Is harassing or offensive to you.
- Harms or threatens to harm your pet.
Conduct is personal violence if it:
- Threatens to cause or causes personal injury to you or damage to your property.
- Is harassing or offensive to you.
Conduct is personal violence in a workplace if it:
- Threatens to cause or causes personal injury to an employee at the workplace.
- Threatens to cause or causes damage property in the workplace.
- Is harassing or offensive to an employee while working as an employee at the workplace.
If an interim order is made, your matter is adjourned for a conference within 4-8 weeks. If you didn’t ask for an interim order, or if one was not made, your matter will be listed for conference within 14 days. A copy of your application, notice of proceedings and any interim order is served on the respondent. The conference is conducted by a Deputy Registrar.
Possible outcomes of the conference include:
- If you reach agreement the matter is settled by consent without admissions. This means that the respondent hasn’t admitted to the violence but agrees to allow the orders to be made.
- The respondent may make undertakings. This means that you withdraw your application on the respondent’s promise to comply with the terms of the undertakings.
- The matter can be put over to another date for a conference.
- If the respondent doesn’t attend, your application is put before the Magistrate to consider whether orders should be made. If an interim order was made, the respondent must file an objection to it becoming a final order at least 7 days before the conference date. If they don’t, the interim order will become a final order.
- If you don’t attend, the application may be adjourned or dismissed.
- You can withdraw your application.
- If the respondent doesn’t agree to orders being made the matter is adjourned for a court hearing. At the hearing you need to show evidence that you need an order for your protection. If your application is found to be vexatious, frivolous, or made dishonestly the court may order you to pay the other person’s costs.