Protection Orders in Queensland
Updated on Mar 23, 2023 • 8 min read • 1113 views • Copy Link
Protection Orders in Queensland
Protection orders in Queensland (also known as Domestic Violence Orders) are court orders made between individuals with conditions aimed to prevent future domestic or family violence from occurring. Protection orders are made in accordance with the Domestic and Family Violence Protection Act 2012. The law aims to stop domestic violence from occurring, to maximise the safety of people subjected to domestic violence, and to make sure that perpetrators are held accountable for their behaviour. This page deals with protection orders in Queensland.
What is ‘domestic violence?
Domestic violence is described in the legislation as behaviour that is:
- physically abusive
- sexually abusive
- psychologically abusive
- emotionally abusive
- economically abusive
- coercive, or
- seeks in any way to dominate or control and which makes a person fear for their safety or wellbeing.
The abusive behaviour must occur within a ‘relevant relationship’.
What is a ‘relevant relationship?
Relevant relationship’ for the purposes of the legislation includes:
- Intimate personal relationships include couples, engaged people, de facto partners, married people (including those who are separated or divorced), those who are living or have lived together, those who have a child together, and those in a boyfriend/girlfriend relationship, as well as ex-partners.
- Informal care relationships exist where a person depends on another for help in their daily lives, such as for dressing, grooming and meal preparation.
- Family relationships involve those related by blood or by marriage such as siblings, parents and children and cousins
Who can apply for protection orders in Queensland?
To obtain a protection order, an application must be made to the court.
The application can be made by:
- the person seeking protection (the ‘aggrieved’)
- a police officer
- a solicitor
- an adult who has been authorised by the aggrieved to make the application on their behalf
- the aggrieved person’s guardian or attorney under an enduring power of attorney
- a party to a child protection proceeding (but only in Children’s Court).
The person against whom the order is sought is known as ‘the respondent’.
An order can be made to protect the aggrieved and any child, relative or associate (such as a friend) who needs protection. You must explain in your application why the others need protection.
An aggrieved aged under 18 years can apply for an order if they are in an intimate personal relationship or an informal care relationship, but not if they are in a family relationship, with the respondent. If you require protection from a family member, you should contact the police on 000 if it is an emergency. Otherwise, you can contact Child Services for help.
Making protection orders in Queensland
Protection orders in Queensland are usually made at a Magistrates Court. Under section 37 of the Domestic and Family Violence Act 2002, the court may make an order if:
will be made if the court believes that violence has occurred and it is necessary to protect from future violence.
- there has been a relevant relationship between the aggrieved and the respondent; and
- the respondent has committed domestic violence against the aggrieved; and
- the order is necessary or desirable to protect the aggrieved from domestic violence.
A judge in the Supreme Court or District Court can make a Protection Order against a defendant convicted of an offence involving domestic or family violence. An order can also be made during protection proceedings in the Children’s Court.
Under the National Domestic Violence Order Scheme, domestic violence orders made in Queensland apply in all Australian states and territories. Orders made in other states and territories also apply in Queensland.
Police powers to make protection orders in Queensland
When police believe domestic or family violence is occurring or has occurred, they may issue the respondent with a Police Protection Notice.
When police attend a place where they suspect domestic or family violence is occurring or has occurred, they can search the premises and seize anything that might have been used to commit violence.
The offender may be taken into custody. The period of time in custody can vary according to the circumstances but must not be for more than four hours, or eight hours if they are intoxicated and unable to understand the conditions of their release.
If they are not taken into custody, a Police Protection Notice can be issued. This is a short-term Domestic Violence Order directing the respondent not to commit any domestic or family violence and be of good behaviour.
A short-term order remains in force until the matter is heard by a magistrate. It can include conditions that the respondent leaves the premises and has no contact with the aggrieved person for up to 24 hours (a ‘cool down condition’).
A police Protection Order is considered to be an application for a Protection Order.
Protection order mention dates
When an application is filed, a date is set for mention in court and the police arrange for the application to be served on the respondent.
At the mention, a number of things may happen:
- The matter may be adjourned to allow the respondent to get legal advice.
- If the aggrieved person is represented by a solicitor or police prosecutor, they will try to reach an agreement with the respondent on suitable conditions for an order. If they can, final orders can be made.
- Final orders may be made if the application was served but the respondent didn’t come to court.
- The aggrieved can withdraw the application on an undertaking by the respondent to be of good behaviour towards them. Undertakings can’t be enforced and there are no penalties for breaking them.
- The matter may be set down for a defended hearing.
Defended protection order hearings
If a respondent defends an application for a Protection Order, the matter will proceed to a hearing. At the hearing, the court will hear evidence from both parties and will make the order if it is satisfied of the matters set out in section 37 of the Act.
The proceedings will take place in a closed court which means that members of the public cannot attend except with leave of the court, and details that might identify any of the parties to the hearing cannot be published.
The aggrieved will be treated as a special witness. This means that the court can order that, while they give evidence, the respondent, and any other party as the court decides, is excluded from court or obscured from the aggrieved person, or that the aggrieved’s evidence is videotaped and played to the court.
Under section 97 of the Domestic and Family Violence Act 2002, an order usually lasts for five years. The court can make an order for a shorter period only if there are reasons for doing so.
Under section 164 of the Domestic and Family Violence Act 2002, a party may appeal against a court’s decision to make or refuse to make a protection order. The notice of appeal must be filed within 28 days of the date of the court decision.
Protection order conditions
Under section 56 of the Domestic and Family Violence Protection Act 2002, all protection orders in Queensland will include the standard conditions that:
- the respondent must be of good behaviour towards the aggrieved and not commit further domestic or family violence; and, if applicable
- that the respondent must be of good behaviour towards other named persons on the order;
- that the respondent must not expose a child who is named on the order to domestic violence.
Under section 57 of the Domestic and Family Violence Protection Act 2002, courts may also impose other conditions including:
- that the respondent does not attempt to locate or approach the aggrieved or other named person,
- that the respondent does not contact, attempt to contact, or have someone else contact, the aggrieved or other named person
- that the respondent return property which belongs to the aggrieved, or allows the aggrieved to retrieve their property
- a limitation on, or prevention of, contact with a child to the extent necessary to protect the child
- conditions to protect the life of an unborn child.
The court can also make an ‘ouster’ condition that prohibits the respondent from approaching, being within a certain distance of, remaining at, or entering particular premises.
Breach of protection orders in Queensland
Police can order a respondent to stay in a particular place until they are served with an application for a Protection Order, a Police Protection Notice or a Domestic Violence Order. If they leave, they may be charged with an offence.
Breaching a protection order is also an offence under section 177 of the Domestic and Family Violence Act 2002. The offence carries a maximum penalty of three years imprisonment or a fine of 120 penalty units.
If there has been a conviction for breaching a protection order in the previous five years, then the maximum penalties that apply are higher. The fine is doubled (240 penalty units) and the maximum jail sentence is increased to five years.
It is a defence if the accused has not been advised of the existence of the order.
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