Domestic violence orders

If you need urgent help, phone the police on 000.

If you need housing in a women’s refuge, phone 1800 811 811.

How a domestic violence order can help

Also known as a protection order, a domestic violence order (DVO) is made by a magistrate in court and can protect you and others by making a person committing violence against you be of good behaviour and not commit domestic violence.

You can also ask for conditions to be added into the order, such as making it illegal for the violent person (the respondent) to come within a certain distance of where you (the aggrieved) live.

Apply for a domestic violence order

You can ask the police to apply to the court for a DVO. Otherwise, you can apply directly to the court yourself, or ask a lawyer, community/welfare worker, or friend or family member to apply for you.

A domestic violence order can stop someone:

  • approaching you at your home or work
  • staying in a home currently or previously shared, even if the house is owned or rented in their name
  • approaching your relatives or friends (if named in the order)
  • going to a child's school or day care centre.

When police apply for the order

When domestic or family violence occurs, the police may issue a police protection notice or take the person committing the violence into custody in a watch house for up to 8 hours.

When released from custody, the police will either issue a protection notice or give the respondent a copy of the DVO application. Along with the DVO application, they will give a date to appear in court and their release conditions, such as not approaching you in your home or workplace.

Police can also tell you or the respondent to go to, or stay at, a certain place for up to 2 hours, while they issue a police protection notice.

When you apply for the order

You can have a police officer, lawyer, friend or family member apply for you, or you can apply for a domestic violence order yourself.

The application is a legal document. You should seek legal advice to make sure a DVO is right for your safety needs. There are legal services that can help you.

Regardless of who applies, the court will make an order with the conditions it considers appropriate, and the police will enforce the order in the same way.

Going to court

The first court date after a DVO application is filed is called a mention.

Most large courthouses have a safe area where you—the aggrieved—can wait, away from the person you’re seeking protection from.
You can fill out a safety form (PDF, 58 KB) before coming to court.

If both you and the respondent attend the mention and agree on the order, the court may make a DVO. If you disagree on the order, the court may set a date for a hearing.

If the respondent doesn’t appear at the mention (after being given a copy of the application by police), the court can make a final DVO in their absence.

Order conditions

The respondent must obey the conditions of the order, which will include:

  • being of good behaviour toward you or any named person
  • not committing violence towards you or any named person
  • not having any weapons or a weapons licence.

The order may also include other conditions, such as:

  • not contacting you in any way (including by phone, SMS or social media)
  • not approaching you or coming within a certain distance.

Orders are made for a minimum of 5 years (unless a court is satisfied a shorter order can be made) and may be extended where necessary.

A DVO is not a criminal order, however, if the respondent disobeys it, they can be charged by the police with the criminal offence of breaching a DVO.

This criminal offence has a penalty of up to 3 years in jail, which increases to up to 5 years if it is breached a second time within 5 years.

Temporary protection orders

If you feel you need protection as soon as possible, you can ask the court for a temporary protection order to be considered urgently by a magistrate when you file your application. Police can also apply for you.

Temporary protection orders are made by a magistrate to protect those in danger until the court considers whether to make a final order.

More information