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How do I get a family violence intervention order?

A court order to protect a person, their children and their property from a family member, partner or ex-partner

STEP 1: Call triple zero (000) if you are in immediate danger

You should call triple zero (000) if:

  • someone is injured or in need of urgent medical help
  • your life or property is being threatened or in danger
  • you have witnessed a serious accident or a crime.

When you call triple zero (000), an operator will ask for your:

  • phone number
  • exact address location.

If you can’t speak English, an operator will organise a translator for you.

If you are not in immediate danger and the police have not made an FVIO application on your behalf, you can apply to the court for an intervention order.

If you are over the age of 18  and would like to apply for an intervention order against someone else over the age of 18, go to the Magistrates’ Court of Victoria website.

STEP 2: Contact the court and make an appointment

To apply for an intervention order, you need to book an appointment with your nearest Children’s Court. You can book an appointment by calling the court and when the registrar (court officer) answers, let them know you need to apply for an intervention order.

If you are not sure where your nearest Children’s Court is, or you don’t feel safe going to that venue because it is near your home or school, contact the Melbourne Children’s Court and a registrar (court officer) can help you, or email ivochildrenscourt@courts.vic.gov.au.

The person applying for a family violence intervention order is called the applicant. The person who the application is made against is called the respondent (the person you need protection from).

The registrar will ask you:

  • who you would like an intervention order against and if you know where the person lives
  • if you are in any immediate danger
  • if you would like to speak with a lawyer to get free legal advice
  • if you would like to speak with a family violence practitioner (a person at the court who can help you get support and services to keep safe).

Preparing the application with the registrar can take some time. When arranging the appointment date, choose a day when you can spend most of the day at court.

There is an application form to fill in before or on the day of your appointment. If it is safe for you to fill it in your own time, you can download an application form. If not, arrive at court 30 minutes before your appointment to get the paper form.

The form will ask you for:

  • information about the respondent (the person you need protection from), including their name, age and address
  • information about how the respondent has behaved (this includes details about what has happened to you and why you think it will happen again)
  • the names and birth dates of your children and other family members who need protecting and their relationship to the respondent

the conditions (rules) you want in the order

If it is safe for you, email the completed form to the court where you have an appointment, or bring it along with you to your appointment.

STEP 3: Go to the appointment

It is okay to feel nervous about going to court. You can bring a family member, friend or any support person with you if you like.

When you reach the court, go to the counter and let the registrar or court officer know that you are there for your appointment. If you’re feeling scared or confused, let them know too: they will organise for a family violence practitioner (support worker) to meet with you and explain how court works and how staff can make sure you are safe.

If you have completed the application form, give this to the registrar. If not, the registrar will give you a paper form. If you are unsure of how to fill it in, ask the registrar for help.

STEP 4: Interview with a registrar

The registrar will read your application form and then meet with you in a private, safe space to ask you some questions about what has happened and why you want the intervention order. This is called the interview. If you wish to have support, you can have your support person join you; the court can also provide a family violence support worker.

You should tell the registrar if you need immediate protection from the respondent. It is also important to tell the registrar if the respondent has access to any weapons and if the person knows where you live.

Based on your application form and interview, the registrar will type up a summary of why you need an intervention order, also known as your application. You will be asked to make an oath or affirmation (promise) that it is true and correct, and sign it. A copy will be given to you on the spot and the registrar will send a copy to the police to give to the respondent.

If you need protection as soon as possible, the registrar will arrange for you to speak with a magistrate (see Step 5).

If you do not need protection immediately, the registrar will give you a date for your intervention order hearing. You need to come back to court that day to ask a magistrate to make the order.

The police will serve (deliver) your application and the hearing date to the respondent. It is up to the respondent if they attend the hearing.

If you have not already spoken with a lawyer, the registrar can give you information about how to access a lawyer. With your permission the registrar can arrange for a lawyer to contact you before the court hearing. If you are under 18 you might be required to have a lawyer for any court hearing – if this is the case the registrar will arrange a lawyer for you.

STEP 5: Interim intervention order

An interim order is a short-term order to provide immediate protection until the court decides whether a final intervention order is required. The interim order can be made at any stage and will last until the court makes a final order or the application is withdrawn.

If you are seeking immediate protection, the registrar will arrange for you to speak with a magistrate after your interview.

It is okay to feel nervous about speaking to the magistrate. You may like to have your support person or a family violence support worker in the court room with you.

The registrar will tell you which court room your application will be heard in. You can wait in the court room or outside it until your name is called.

When your name is called, the magistrate will read your application and ask you some questions about your situation. They might require you to give evidence—this means you will be asked to make an oath or affirmation (promise) to tell the truth before you answer the magistrate’s questions.

The magistrate will then decide whether to make an interim (immediate) intervention order to protect you.

If the magistrate makes an interim order, they will explain what conditions (rules) they are including on the order to keep you safe. The rules are what the respondent must or must not do. If the respondent breaks any of them, you should call the police.

The magistrate will also tell you the date of the full hearing of your application. That is when you come back to court to ask for a final order.

Before you leave the court, the registrar will give you a copy of the interim order. If you are unsure about what it means or what will happen at the next court date, the family violence practitioner can explain this to you.

The police will serve (give) a copy of your application and the interim order to the respondent (the person the application is against) and tell them the next court date. If the respondent does not come to court, an order can still be made.

If you are nervous or scared about attending court

 It is perfectly normal to be nervous about going to court. You might want to bring a friend or family member with you for support on the day. You should also tell the registrar if you are nervous, as they can arrange for a court support coordinator (support worker) to meet with you, talk about what the hearing process will be like, and sit with you in the court room while you talk to the magistrate.

If you are scared about what the respondent might do before the hearing or how they might behave at court, it is important that you tell the registrar or family violence practitioner so they can talk to you about ways to keep you safe at home and in the court building.

If you don’t feel safe in the same room as the respondent, the court can usually arrange for you to appear by video link from somewhere else. You should talk to the registrar or family violence practitioner who can arrange this for you.

STEP 6: Next court date: Full hearing of your application

It is important to go to the court to ask the magistrate to make a final order. You should be prepared to spend the whole day at court.

By then, the respondent would need to have decided to consent to (agree) or contest (oppose) the making of an intervention order.

If the respondent agrees to it or does not attend the hearing, the magistrate can make a final order. A final order usually lasts for 12 months. You can ask the magistrate if you would like the order to last for a longer period of time.

If the respondent does not agree it, a date for a contested hearing will be set. At the contested hearing, both of you will have the chance to call for witnesses and present your evidence. The magistrate will hear all the evidence and then decide whether to make a final order.

If your application is adjourned for a contested hearing, any interim order will continue to protect you unless the magistrate says otherwise.

You will receive a copy of your intervention order after the hearing. If you are not sure what any of the conditions mean, ask the registrar before you leave.

Conditions

An interim or final order contains conditions. Conditions are rules that restrict (stop) the respondent’s behaviour and are designed to protect you and any other person named on the order.

The application form has a list of conditions for you to choose from and you should tell the magistrate if there are any particular ones you want.

Some examples of the conditions are that the respondent must not:

  • damage the protected person’s property, including things that are jointly owned by the protected person and respondent (including pets)
  • attempt to locate or follow the protected person or keep them under surveillance
  • publish on the internet or by email, social media or other electronic communication any material about the protected person
  • contact or communicate with the protected person by any means
  • approach or remain within a certain distance of the protected person
  • get another person to do anything the respondent must not do under this order

If you are unsure what conditions to ask for, you can speak with the registrar or family violence practitioner who can explain these in more detail.

If you are the protected person on an intervention order, it is important you understand the conditions so you know how they will keep you safe. If you are not sure what any of the conditions mean, ask the registrar or a family violence practitioner before you leave.

Changing the conditions

Sometimes circumstances change and the protected person or respondent might want to change the conditions of an intervention order.

You will need to make an application to the court (this is called an “application to vary”). Contact the court to discuss how to do this and speak with a registrar about the changes you want to make.

Applications transferred from the Magistrates’ Court

Intervention order applications between two adults are generally heard in the Magistrates’ Court; however these can be transferred (sent to) the Children’s Court if there is a related child protection proceeding involving them. This means you will only need to attend the Children’s Court where the intervention order and child protection matter will be dealt with together.

It can be confusing and overwhelming if you have an intervention order and child protection matter before the court at the same time. It would be good to get advice and support. Ask the registrar if you would like to talk to a family violence practitioner at the Children’s Court to better understand this process.

If you are at court for a child protection matter and need an intervention order

You can apply for an intervention order when you are attending court for other matters (such as a child protection proceeding). Tell the registrar at the counter and they can arrange for you to meet with a family violence practitioner who will help you make the application.

If the respondent breaks the order

Breaking the conditions is very serious - if the respondent does something they are not allowed to do and breaks a rule on the order, you should report it to the police. If you are in immediate danger, call 000.

Breaking an order is called a “breach”, and the respondent can be charged by the police.

Extending an intervention order

Intervention orders generally last for 12 months. If you feel you need protection to last beyond the end date, call the court before the order expires to make an application to extend the order.

Support for Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander people

The Children’s Court has a Koori Court Officer who is available to provide support to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander court users. When you arrive at court, tell the registrar or family violence practitioner that you would like to talk to the Koori Court Officer.

Legal advice and representation

Court staff can only give you procedural (general) information, so it is a good idea to speak to a lawyer even if it is just to get free legal advice about the intervention order process.

Free legal advice

  • Victoria Legal Aid - You can get free legal advice over the phone or by webchat.
  • YouthlawYou can get free legal advice by phone and email. This legal service is for young people.

Free lawyer to represent you

As you are under 18 years old, you will probably be required to have a lawyer for your hearing. The court can arrange this for you, and it is free.