What is a Protection Order?

Protection orders seek to prevent further violence from occurring rather than dealing with previous violence by way of punishment. Protection orders come under civil law with the potential for criminal action if there is a breach of a protection order.

 The Act covers:

  • An intimate personal relationship (married, defacto, registered relationship, engaged, dating
  • A family relationship ( a parent, or former parent, of a child, or your relatives
  • An informal care relationship (where one person is dependent on the other person for help in an activity of daily living like dressing and cooking for them.

Under the Domestic and Family Violence Protection Act, the victim is know as the “aggrieved spouse” and the perpetrator of the violence is the “respondent spouse”. Relatives and associates of the abused Woman, including children, family friends and workmates who have been threatened, abused or harassed may also be protected. These people are known as “associates” and may be included under the Woman’s protection order if they have experienced “associated domestic violence”.

 What behaviour is covered?

The Domestic Violence and Family Violence Protection Act define domestic violence in the following way:

•When someone is physically or sexually abusive to you, or

•Is emotionally or psychologically abusive to you, or

•is economically abusive to you or

•is threatening, or

•is coercive, or

•in any other way controls or dominates you and causes you to fear for your safety or wellbeing or that of someone else.

The police can take action to protect a Woman experiencing domestic violence and to prevent further violence under the Domestic and Family Violence Protection Act. The police are also directed under policy guidelines to make use of powers under other relevant acts, such as the Police Powers and Responsibilities Act, in terms of investigating a domestic violence incident. Even though the police have these powers to protect, investigate and prosecute in domestic violence situations, women do not always see the police using these powers. It is important that women have support to place pressure on police to use the powers they have. (Police domestic violence liaison officers).

 Under the Domestic Violence (Family Protection) Act the police have the following powers:

  • If they suspect domestic violence is occurring they must investigate.
  • If they believe one person is in immediate danger they can take the other person into custody for up to 4 hours; they must also apply for a protection order for the aggrieved spouse during this time.
  • If the abuser is in custody they will be released on conditions decided by the watchhouse keeper within four hours if the application for a protection order has not been heard and decided, or sooner if a protection order is made.
  • If it is after hours and the police believe the Woman is in immediate danger they can get a protection order over the phone or by other means.
  • If the Woman has been assaulted or hurt, the police can charge the perpetrator with a criminal offence as well as taking out a protection order.

How does a Woman get a protection order?

Protection orders are made by Magistrates at Magistrates Courts. There is a protection order application form that needs to be completed detailing the history of the abuse and a recent domestic violence incident that has occurred. Under the legislation there re three different means by which a Woman can obtain an order – an application can be made by the Woman herself, by the police or by any authorised person.

A Woman as applicant

A Woman will need to get an application form from her local Magistrates Court or police station (she may also try her local domestic violence service or community legal centre).Application for a Protection Order.  She should put in as much detail as she feels is necessary to make the court aware of the extent of her abuse. An extra page can be attached to her application if necessary.

Describe every domestic violence incident that has happened, including:

•when it happened

•where it happened

•what happened

•how it happened

•who was there

•any injuries you suffered and

•how you felt – eg did you feel threatened, fearful or scared.

Inform the court:

  • about any weapons that the respondent has access to;
  • details of people she wants covered by her order such as family and friends;
  • and how she wants to be protected that is, what extra conditions she needs to have included on the order to ensure her safety.

The declaration on the form in front of a Justice of the Peace or a solicitor. When you sign the form you are indicating that the details are true and accurate. All magistrates courts have a justice of the Peace.