What are Domestic Violence Protection Orders?
A court can make a domestic violence order against a person (the respondent) for the benefit of another person (the aggrieved). There are two separate orders a court can make:
a) Protection orders, and
b) Temporary protection orders – this can be made in the interim period before a court decides whether to make a protection order.
Sometimes, the court can make a domestic violence order even though the respondent is not notified about the application for a domestic violence order or does not appear in court, if the court is satisfied that there was a relevant relationship between the aggrieved and the respondent, the respondent has committed domestic violence against the aggrieved, and that a protection order is necessary or desirable to protect the aggrieved from further family violence.
This includes any children and step-children, as well as unborn children if the aggrieved is pregnant.
The Conditions of a Protection Order
Each domestic violence protection order is different, and so the conditions set out in the protection order will vary depending on the individual circumstances. However there are standard conditions that must be included in the order. Section 56 of Domestic and Family Violence Protection Act 2012 states that a court making a domestic violence order must impose a condition that the respondent:
(a) be of good behaviour towards the aggrieved and not commit domestic violence against the aggrieved; and
(b) if the order includes a named person who is an adult—
(i) be of good behaviour towards the named person; and
(ii) not commit associated domestic violence against the named person; and
(c) if the order includes a named person who is a child—
(i) be of good behaviour towards the child; and
(ii) not commit associated domestic violence against the child; and
(iii) not expose the child to domestic violence.
Other conditions which may be imposed by the Magistrate include limiting any contact between the aggrieved and the respondent (both physical and other, such as contact by phone or SMS), returning property to the aggrieved, or requiring the respondent to leave a location. These need to be necessary in the circumstances and desirable in the interests of the aggrieved, any named person, or the respondent.
The Role of the Police
The police play a paramount role in protection orders as they are often the first to respond to incidences of domestic and family violence. Under the Domestic and Family Violence Protection Act 2012, police have the power to issue a protection notice when attending a DV incident and they reasonably believe that domestic violence occurred.
The police protection notice is taken to be an application for a protection order, to be determined in the Magistrates Court at a later date. Police may also impose the following ‘cool down’ conditions if they believe it is necessary and desirable to do so:
(a) that the respondent is prohibited from entering (or attempting to enter, or remain at) a stated premises, or approaching within a distance of stated premises;
(b) that the respondent is prohibited from approaching (or attempting to approach) within a stated distance of the aggrieved; and
(c) that the respondent is prohibited from contacting (attempting to contact, or asking someone else to contact) the aggrieved.
Police also have the power to apply to the court for a protection order or a variation of an existing protection order.