By Victoria Byrne, Lawyer, and Nicholas Macolino, Practical Legal Trainee.
What is commonly known as an IVO can be one of two types of orders: a “Family Violence Intervention Order” (FVIO) or a “Personal Safety Intervention Order” (PSIO). FVIOs are for matters where there is a family relationship, and PSIOs are for matters where the parties are unrelated, such as neighbours or co-workers. Family relationships are quite broad, for example you can apply for an Intervention Order against your ex-partner’s new partner even though they are not technically your family. In Victoria, any family member can apply for an order to be made in the Magistrates Court.1 For the purpose of this article, we are focusing solely on FVIOs but if you require advice on PSIOs you can contact us on 9741 1722 and make an appointment to discuss further.
What is family violence?
To understand a FVIO, you need to understand what family violence is. Family violence can take many shapes and forms and is not just physical violence. The behaviour towards a family member can be physically, sexually, emotionally, psychological, or economically abusive.2 It can also be threatening and coercive behaviours, including being controlling and dominating a family member to the point they fear for their safety or wellbeing.3 The types of behaviour which meet this definition is very broad. For example, not allowing your husband to have access to your joint bank account statements, not allowing your wife to take the baby to the supermarket because you think it is bad for their health, or even calling your partner a nickname that they do not like and can be offensive, are all behaviours which are family violence. Family violence can also be simply exposing a child to hearing or seeing any of the above violence.4
The purpose of a FVIO
The main purpose of this type of order is to provide someone with short or long term protection from the behaviour or actions of another person by placing conditions on what the second person can and cannot do.
Therefore, the person seeking the order is the Applicant. The people or person who is protected by the order is the Protected Person or the Affected Family Member. The person who must do what the FVIO says is the Respondent.
A member of the Police Force can also apply for an Intervention Order for the protection of you and your children, or against you. (See our Article titled “What to do when the police serve you with an Intervention Order”).
The order can be interim or final. Interim orders are usually made at the first hearing and stay in place until a final order or undertaking is made, or the application is withdrawn. Final Orders stay in place for a fixed period of time. This is often 12 months to 2 years, but it can be longer or shorter. Final orders can be made by agreement or after a contested hearing. If the hearing is contested, a Magistrate will hear the evidence and decide if an order needs to remain in place. The evidence required for a final hearing is often substantial.
How does the order stop the behaviour?
The FVIO will list a series of conditions which prohibit certain types of behaviour. If the Respondent does one of the things listed on the FVIO, it can be reported to the police. The police may decide the behaviour is a breach and there are penalties for breaches.
The court can include any conditions on a person’s behaviour that it deems are required depending on the circumstances however, there are standard conditions that frequently appear including:5
- banning the respondent from committing family violence against the protected person;
- excluding the respondent from the protected person’s residence, workplace or school (usually with a 200-meter distance requirement attached);
- excluding the respondent from attempting to locate, follow or keep the protected person under surveillance;
- excluding the respondent from contacting the protected person by any means;
- excluding the respondent from getting any other person to do anything that they must not do;
- excluding the respondent from publishing on the internet any material about the protected person;
- remove or suspend licences to carry or use firearms; and
- direct that a person is able to collect items of property.
The FVIO can also include exceptions which allow the respondent to do things even if they contradict the conditions. A common example is the inclusion of an exception to allow parties to do anything that is permitted by a Family Law Order. This would mean if a Family Law Order said that changeover is to happen at the children’s school, then the respondent would be not breaching the order by attending the school at that time.
How do I obtain further advice on Intervention Order matters?
1 Family Violence Protection Act 2008 (Vic) s 8.
2 Ibid s 5(1).
5 Ibid s 79 – 95.
You’re welcome to visit our Contact page for more details and make an appointment.