About Intervention Orders
What is an Intervention Order?
An Intervention Order is a legally enforceable document that aims to provide a person, their children and their property with protection. An Intervention Order is an Order made by the Courts protecting an Affected Person from another individual referred to as the Respondent. The protection is to prevent family violence or behaviour of this nature, which includes emotional and financial abuse, as well as physical violence and sexual abuse. It is sometimes referred to as a Restraining Order or an AVO. The order will specify conditions that must be adhered to by the respondent. Depending on the conditions, the law will generally require the respondent to:
- Refrain from certain behaviour;
- Avoid contact or communication with the protected person;
- To maintain a specified distance from the protected person.
Any person who is or has been the victim of physical assault, threats of harm, stalking, intimidation or harassment and has a reasonable belief of fear can apply for a Family Violence Intervention Order or a Personal Safety Intervention Order.
What are the types of Intervention Orders?
In Victoria, there are two types of Intervention Orders that can be ordered in the Magistrates’ Court. They are ‘personal safety’ and ‘family violence’ Intervention Order.
- Family Violence Intervention Orders (FVIO) which are made by the Family Violence Protection Act 2008: A court order to protect an individual, their children and their property from another family member, partner or ex-partner. Any person who is or has been the victim of physical assault, threats of harm, stalking, intimidation or harassment and has a reasonable belief of fear can apply for a FVIO.
- Personal Saftey Intervention Orders (PSIO) which are made by the Personal Safety Intervention Orders Act 2010: A court order to protect an individual, their children or their property from another individual’s behaviour. This may also be known as a Restraining Order or Apprehended Violence Order in other States and Territories. If you have been subjected to assault, harassment, stalking or had your property damaged, you can make an application for a PSIO.
What is Family Violence?
The Family Violence Protection Act 2008 (Victoria) (‘the Act’) gives power to the Victorian Courts to make Intervention Orders to protect an individual (referred to as the Affected Family Member) or several individuals from another individual (referred to as the Respondent). Family Violence is defined by Section 5 of the Act. For the purposes of the Act, family violence is broadly defined as and includes behaviour by a person towards a family member of that person if that behaviour is:
- Physically or sexually abusive; or
- Emotionally or psychologically abusive; or
- Economically abusive; or
- Threatening, coercive; or
- Controlling or dominating towards the family member and causes that family member to feel fear for the safety or well-being of that family member or another person.
Who is considered a family member?
Family violence can only occur between family members. The legal definition of a ‘family member’ includes domestic partners (e.g. boyfriend, girlfriend, husband, wife, de facto partners) and any person who has an ‘intimate relationship’ with the relevant person. It also includes a person’s immediate family – such as a partner, parent, or child – as well as siblings, aunties/uncles, and extended relatives. In some cultures, a ‘family member’ can include people with no genetic link to you, and the court can decide whether someone is family for the purposes of an intervention order. The law can also protect a person from anyone who was a family member in the past.
If someone is harassing, controlling, or stalking you but they have not had an intimate relationship with you and are not related to you, then the Family Violence Protection Act will not apply. Instead, a ‘Personal Safety Intervention Order’ should be considered.
What are the conditions of an Intervention Order?
Some examples of the conditions that a Court may include in an Interim or Final Intervention Order are that a Respondent must not:
- Commit family violence against an affected person;
- Intentionally damage any property of a protected person;
- Attempt to locate or follow an affected person;
- Publish on the internet any material about an affected person;
- Contact or communicate with an affected person by any means; and/or
- Go within a specified distance of where an affected person lives, works or attends school.
There are a number of exceptions to the above conditions that may be ordered by the Court, for example communication might be permitted but only by SMS or email on the basis that no family violence is committed. The exceptions can help parties to resolve their parenting or property issues.
Have you been served with an intervention order?
What to do:
Check the details of the court hearing including the date, time and location. Ensure that you do not miss this court date otherwise the court may determine the case in your absence, adjourn the case and issue a warrant or make an intervention order with respect to a child.
Understand who the intervention order is protecting. There may be a number of people listed including children (checked both Affected Family Members and Protected Persons).
The application will explain why the applicant is seeking an order against you. Start to think about whether you agree or disagree with the application.
If you have been served an interim intervention order, review the conditions of the order and ensure that you do not breach any of the conditions even if you disagree with them. You will have an opportunity at court to contest the order against you.
You should then contact our office for advice. We recommend that this occur prior to the first court hearing to ensure that you receive advice on the best course of action moving forward.