Carolyn Devries is the founder of Australia’s first non-for-profit law firm called New Way Lawyers. New Way Lawyers was established 12 years ago to provide an alternative model of family law service provision which is fully client focused rather than focused on generating profit. New Way Lawyers provide full family law advice and representation based on the principles of excellence, care, accessibility and innovation.
Historically, domestic violence (DV) was widely either not reported or not taken seriously unless there were bruises or injuries to take into account. However, with the increase in the amount of stories and even deaths being reported in the media, people are finally starting to take it more seriously. However, men can be the victims of domestic violence and that is something that is still not widely understood.
What is domestic violence and family violence?
Domestic violence and family violence involves any behaviour that is threatening, controlling, dominating, violent or intended to cause fear to a person in a family, domestic, intimate relationship or formerly intimate relationship. Domestic and family violence can be:
All genders and sexes can experience or use violent behaviour and there are services available to support those who experience violent behaviour and those who use it. There is a rise in people understanding their violent tendencies and seeking therapy for it, and there are also more services available for the victims to seek guidance too.
Domestic violence, family violence and the law?
In Australia, there are national and state laws that protect victims of family and domestic violence.
The Family Law Act, 1975, is a national law that includes provisions for protection from family and domestic violence, however, these protections are usually only exercised when there are proceedings before the Federal Circuit and Family Court of Australia for parenting and property matters.
State laws provide the primary means of protection to victims of domestic and family violence or individuals who are at risk of domestic violence. There are differences between the laws in each state, so it is wise to get advice from a qualified family lawyer if you have questions about your situation.
If you experience violent behaviour:
It is important to seek support if you experience violence within a family, domestic or intimate relationship. A person experiencing violence may apply for a Family Violence Order under the relevant law in their state or territory. Family violence orders have different names in different States and Territories:
- Apprehended Domestic Violence Order (NSW)
- Intervention Orders (VIC & SA)
- Domestic Violence Orders (QLD)
- Violence Restraining Orders (WA)
- Family Violence Order (TAS)
- Domestic Violence Order (ACT & NT)
A Family Violence Order is an order that is made to protect a person from violence by restricting or stopping the behaviour of another person.
How you obtain a Family Violence Order will depend on which State you live in. For more information on how to apply for a family violence order you can enquire with the Police or at the Magistrates Court in the state or territory where you live.
If you have a family violence order in place for your protection against another person, it is important to keep this document safe and to provide a copy to your children’s school and/or childcare centre, where relevant. It is important to report any breaches to Police and be sure to seek support such as counselling. For victims of family or domestic violence it may be possible to access compensation support through the Victim Compensation Scheme in your State or Territory as a separate process to applying for a family violence order.
If you are using violent behaviour:
All genders and sexes can use violent behaviour and many people who use violent behaviour in their family, domestic and intimate relationships, are able to change their behaviour with appropriate support and strategies.
If a Family Violence order has been taken out against you, the first thing to do is seek legal advice about your individual situation and your options, which may include agreeing to an order being made, agreeing to an undertaking being made instead of an order, or contesting the order. It is important to be aware of all the details of Court dates and be on time as orders can be made in your absence if you do not attend. If an order has been made it is important to discuss the terms of the order with your lawyer and ensure you follow the terms and conditions as there can be serious consequences to breaching orders.
Services available for support include;
- DVConnect Mensline: https://www.dvconnect.org/mensline/ 1800 600 636 available 9am – midnight 7 days per week
- Mensline Australia: https://mensline.org.au/ 1300 78 99 78
- National Sexual Assault, Domestic Violence Counselling Service 1800RESPECT: 1800 737 732
- Relationships Online: https://www.familyrelationships.gov.au/
- Lifeline: 131114
If you have questions about your individual situation you can visit the Lunch with a Lawyer Facebook group. This is a free group by New Way Lawyers that allows you to ask your legal questions for free and get answers from a qualified family lawyer. That way you can be pointed in the right direction before you spend a cent.