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
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 on good behaviour and not commit domestic violence.
You can also ask for conditions to be added to the order, such as making it illegal for the violent person (the respondent) to come within a certain distance of where you live.
You can ask the police to apply to the court for a DVO. Otherwise you can apply directly to the court yourself, or you can ask a lawyer, community/welfare worker, 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 the respondent’s name
- approaching your relatives or friends (if named in the order)
- going to a child's school or daycare 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 the respondent is released from custody, the police will either issue a police protection notice or give them a copy of the domestic violence order application. The application would include a date to appear in court and their release conditions, such as not approaching you in your home or workplace.
When you apply for the order
The application is a legal document, so we advise you to seek legal advice to make sure a protection order is right for your safety needs. There are a number of 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 an application for a domestic violence order 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 you and the respondent attend the mention and agree on the order, the court may make a protection order.
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 protection order in their absence.
The respondent must obey the conditions of the order, which will include not committing violence against you and any other named person, as well as not having any weapons or a weapons licence.
The order may also include conditions such as not contacting you in any way (including by phone, SMS or social media) and not approaching you or coming within a certain distance.
The order may last up to 2 years or longer and be extended where necessary.
A domestic violence order is not a criminal order ; however, if the respondent disobeys it they can be charged with the criminal offence of breaching a domestic violence order.
This criminal offence has a penalty of up to 3 years in jail, and 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 to urgently consider a temporary protection order when you file your application. Police can also apply for you.
Temporary protection orders are made to protect those in danger until the court considers whether to make a final order.
- Phone DVConnect for 24-hour domestic violence support
- How to apply for a domestic violence order
- What happens when someone applies for a protection order against you
- National Council for Single Mothers and their Children