Family violence matters and the courts
All Magistrates’ Courts (and Children’s Courts, if applicable) in Victoria can hear applications for family violence intervention orders.
However, there are specialist 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 part of the Family Violence Court Division (FVCD) of the Magistrates’ Courts in Ballarat, Frankston, Heidelberg, Moorabbin and Shepparton. Ten more courts are due to be established in Bendigo, Broadmeadows, Dandenong, Geelong, the Latrobe Valley, Melbourne CBD, Ringwood, Sunshine and Werribee or Wyndham.
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 the Magistrates’ Court’s website.
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’ in ‘Family violence intervention orders‘), 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 penalty units.
Specialist Family Violence Service
Pending the set-up of a specialist division (as explained above), the Specialist Family Violence Services (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 the Magistrates’ Court’s website
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.