Domestic Violence Matters (Qld)

In Queensland, when a person is dealt with by a court for domestic violence offences, there are special precautions that must be taken to ensure the safety of the complainant. These measures were introduced in 2023 to better protect victims of family violence. This page outlines how courts are now required to deal with domestic violence matters in Queensland.

What are domestic violence offences?

An offence will be treated as a domestic violence offence if it occurred in the context of a relevant relationship. This includes intimate personal relationships, family relationships and informal care relationships. Domestic violence offences may be assaults, sexual assaults, wilful damage, stalking, intimidation, harassment and abuse and threats to kill.

Definition of domestic violence

The definition of domestic violence contained in section 8 of the Domestic and Family violence Protection Act 2008 has now been broadened to better reflect the complex and ongoing nature of family violence.

The definition is now any behaviour that is:

  • physically or sexually abusive
  • emotionally or psychologically abusive;
  • threatening;
  • coercive;
  • controls or dominates a person and causes them to fear for their safety or for someone else’s.

This includes behaviour, or a pattern of behaviour that:

  • may occur over a period of time;
  • may be one or more acts that, when considered cumulatively, is abusive, threatening, coercive or causes fear; and
  • is to be considered in the context of the relationship as a whole.

Domestic violence history

Queensland Police are now required to provide a court that is dealing with a domestic violence matter with a criminal history and domestic violence history of the accused. This is then used to help the court to assess whether it needs to make a domestic violence order.

A court may make an order if it is satisfied that:

  • the parties are in a relevant relationship;
  • that the respondent has committed domestic violence against the aggrieved; and
  • it is necessary or desirable for the order to be made.

All DVOS carry the condition that the aggrieved must be of good behaviour towards the aggrieved and must not commit domestic violence against them. A DVO may also carry any other conditions that the court considers are necessary or desirable to protect the aggrieved or to protect another person.

Examples of additional conditions are:

  • not to contact the aggrieved directly or indirectly
  • not to attend any place that the aggrieved is living or working

A court may make a DVO against an accused person even where the person has not been found guilty of the offence.

Protected witnesses

Certain categories of witnesses are classed as protected witnesses. This includes witnesses who are under the age of 16 and witnesses who have a mental impairment.

Since the 2023 changes to the Domestic and Family violence Protection Act 2008, domestic violence complainants are also classed as protected witnesses.

This means that where a person is charged with a domestic violence offence and represents themselves, they will not be permitted to cross-examine the alleged victim. The cross-examination of the victim must be undertaken by a legal practitioner.

Cross applications for domestic violence orders

A domestic violence incident commonly results in cross-applications for DVOS. When reciprocal applications for DVOS are made and both are before the same court, the court is now required to hear these applications together.

The court will be required to identify the party who is most in need of protection. The court must not make orders against both parties unless there is reason to believe that both parties are in need of protection from each other.

A court may make a costs order against the party whose application is dismissed if it considers the application was made in an attempt to further harass or intimidate the other party (in other words, where the application was an abuse of process).

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