Domestic violence is a serious issue that affects individuals and families in every community. In the Australian Capital Territory (ACT), robust legal protections have been put in place to address domestic violence and provide support to victims. The ACT government has enacted legislation and established programs that prioritise the safety and well-being of those affected by domestic violence. However, it is important to know that legal protections and defences also exist for those accused of domestic violence which is why you should seek legal advice from domestic violence lawyers in Canberra for your specific situation.
What is Domestic Violence?
Domestic violence is an ongoing pattern of behaviour aimed at controlling a family member through fear. This includes not only violence against an intimate partner or ex-partner, but also violence and abuse against children, older people, parents and other kin or family members. Domestic violence includes unlawful behaviour such as:
- assault (slapping, punching, kicking, grabbing, pushing)
- threats to physically harm a person
- confining a person against their will
- sexual assault
- child abuse or neglect
- behaviour that causes a child to hear, witness or otherwise be exposed to family violence
- damage to another person’s property
- actual or threatened harm to a person’s pet
There are some additional behaviours which are considered family violence but may not be a criminal offence in the absence of a relevant protection order. These include harassing or intimidating behaviour, verbal or emotional abuse (name calling, humiliation, making another person feel worthless, insults), as well as financial abuse (withholding and/or controlling finances).
The ACT has legislation to protect people from family violence. A person suffering from domestic violence can ask the Magistrates Court for a protection order. You can apply for a Family Violence Order or a Personal Violence Order.
After an application is made, the court will set a date for the application to be heard. If the situation is urgent, an interim (temporary) order may be granted by a Magistrate on the same day the application is lodged. Interim protection orders are made for the period from the application to the time the final protection order is made and operate in a similar way to a final order.
If the respondent has been served with the application for a family violence order but does not attend court on the day it is to be heard, it is likely the order will be made in their absence. If the respondent attends court and indicates that they oppose the making of the order, the court will list the matter for a contested hearing. On that day, evidence will be heard from both parties and the court will make a decision as to whether the order is warranted. If the respondent attends court and does not object to the order being made, it may be made by consent and without admissions.
A protection order aims to restrict the actions of the perpetrator and provide protection for the victim. For instance, a protection order may prohibit the perpetrator from approaching or contacting the victim, residing at a particular address or visiting a particular workplace, or possessing firearms. Breaching a protection order is a criminal offence.
Speak to a Canberra Domestic Violence Lawyer
Should you or your children experience family violence, you are entitled to protection. Should you find yourself in a violent situation or if there is a threat of violence, we suggest contacting the police immediately. A Family Violence Order or a Personal Violence Order can be quickly obtained from the court if necessary.
Our domestic violence lawyers in Canberra can assist you with the process of obtaining a Family Violence Order or a Personal Violence Order and other protective measures to help you and your family remain safe. A family lawyer can also take you through the process of protecting your family in the long term.
Similarly, if you find yourself named as a respondent to a Family Violence Order or a Personal Violence Order, we can assist you through the process and advise you of the options available to you.