In certain circumstances, a male Respondent to a final Family Violence Intervention Order (“FVIO”) may be ordered to attend counselling. The purpose of the counselling order is to increase the Respondent’s accountability and encourage a change of behaviour.
Counselling orders can only be made if a male Respondent lives in an eligible postcode. Magistrates at Heidelberg, Frankston, Shepparton, Moorabbin and Ballarat can order a Respondent to attend counselling.
There are two stages to making a counselling order including an eligibility assessment order and a counselling order.
A Magistrate will order the Respondent to attend an eligibility assessment with a family violence worker. They will ask the Respondent questions and prepare a written report for the Magistrate. Generally, a Respondent will be assessed as eligible unless they are deemed incapable of participating due to mental or physical disabilities, alcohol or other drug problems. Failure to attend the assessment is an offence.
If assessed as eligible, a counselling order will be made. The Magistrate will explain to the Respondent the purpose of the order, what the Respondent must do, the consequences of failure to comply and how the order may be varied or revoked. Failure to attend court ordered counselling is an offence.
It is important to understand that if a final order is made and the Respondent does not admit to family violence, they will still undergo an eligibility assessment. A common counselling program is the Men’s Behavioural Change Program which runs for 20 weeks. It is important to seek legal advice before agreeing to a final FVIO as this may result in a counselling order. If there is currently a counselling order in place and you seek to vary or revoke it, our lawyers at Aston Legal Group can assist with this process.