Victims of family violence can seek protection via an intervention order. Police can also seek intervention orders without a victim’s consent. Orders can prohibit a variety of actions by a perpetrator. Injunctions or restraining orders also have a role to play. Refuges and Centrelink can all help protect victims.

Trigger warning

Please note this chapter (and pages it links to) contains information about family violence that may be triggering to family violence survivors.

Contributor

Renata Alexander

Barrister

Family violence matters and the courts

Last updated

1 July 2021

All Magistrates’ Courts (and Children’s Courts, if applicable) in Victoria can hear applications for family violence intervention orders. However, there are special court divisions and services that cater to family violence matters. These are discussed below.

Specialist family violence courts

Specialist family violence courts have been established as divisions of the Magistrates’ Court in Heidelberg, Ballarat and Shepparton.

The Family Violence Court Division deals with a variety of matters related to family violence, including interim and final intervention orders, mandated counselling orders, civil proceedings in respect to damages for personal injury, victims of crime compensation, and breaches of intervention orders. For more information, see www.mcv.vic.gov.au/about/family-violence-courts-and-counselling-orders.

Counselling

In addition to the powers that all magistrates have in family violence cases (see ‘What is a family violence intervention order?’ and ‘Family violence intervention orders and Family Law Act orders’, above), magistrates in some courts also have the power to direct respondents to attend counselling. This is mostly directed at male respondents who are required to attend a men’s behaviour change program. If a respondent is ordered to attend but refuses, they can be fined up to 10 pu (see ‘A note about penalty units’ at the start of this book).

Specialist Family Violence Service

The Specialist Family Violence Service (SFVS) operates at other Magistrates’ Courts, including the courts in Dandenong, Frankston, the Latrobe Valley (Morwell), Melbourne’s CBD, Moorabbin, Shepparton, Sunshine and Werribee. Court staff, police prosecutors and other resources specifically cater to family violence cases. (For more information, see www.mcv.vic.gov.au.)

Koori Family Violence Court Support Program

The Koori Family Violence Court Support Program is a state-wide program that operates out of the Magistrates’ Courts in Melbourne’s CBD, Ballarat, Mildura and Shepparton. The program provides Koori families with support, information and referrals to legal services.

This is a free service. To speak to a Koori Support Worker at Melbourne Magistrates’ Court, phone:

  • Koori Women’s Support Worker: 9628 7991; or
  • Koori Men’s Support Worker: 9628 7873; or
  • Melbourne Magistrates’ Court: 9628 7777.

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