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Responding to an intervention order (FVIO)

If an application has been made against you, you should read any court documents you receive. 

See the personal safety intervention order page if you are responding to an intervention order made against you by someone other than a family member, partner or ex-partner.

If there was an application for a , the one who made it is called the . The applicant can be the police, a partner, a parent or a guardian.

The police must act to protect people and can apply for an order to protect a person even if the person does not want it. 

The application would have asked for who needs to be protected. People who need to be protected are called affected family members. Children who have been around family violence in any way should be included as affected family members.

If an application or an order was made against you, you are known as the ‘’.

Intervention orders are serious. They are made to protect people from family violence.

When the police or a person applies for an intervention order, or when the magistrate makes an intervention order, you do not get a criminal record or conviction. 

However, if you break the conditions of an intervention order, it becomes a criminal matter. You can be charged by the police with a criminal offence.

Family violence can be made up of many different behaviours, including criticising, insulting and monitoring phone calls. See the family violence page for more information. 

How you would know when there is an application against you

If an application for a family violence intervention order was made against you, the court sends it and any orders made, to the police station closest to where you live. This does not mean there are criminal charges against you.

The police will personally give the order to you. They will explain to you what the intervention order means, including what it means to break the order (called breach). The police will then file a ‘certificate of service’ with the court to state they have served the order.

If the police cannot find you and give the order personally, they will file a ‘certificate of inability to ’, explaining why this has happened. 

If the police believe you are avoiding them or will do so, they can apply for permission from the magistrate to serve the order in other ways, including: 

  • email
  • post
  • leaving it in a letterbox
  • giving the order to another person in contact with you.

This is called an ‘alternative service’ or a ‘substituted service order’. When applying, police must prove to the court that it will result in you being made aware the order has been served on you.

How you would know what happened at a hearing

See the section after the hearing on the family violence matters page.

It’s important to understand what this order is about. There are organisations that can help you. See find support to get legal advice and support.

What to think about before the hearing

You might have received a copy of the application and , which includes the date of the court hearing. At the hearing, the magistrate will decide if an order is needed, and what kind of order it should be. 

Intervention orders are serious. They are to protect affected family members from family violence.

Going to court is important. It is your chance to respond to what was written in the application. It will also help you understand what the order means, and what it may mean for how you behave in future. 

If you do not attend the hearing, the magistrate can still make a final order. 

Going to court is a legal process, so it’s a good idea to get legal advice before you go. See Going to court for information on how to prepare for the hearing. 

See the find support page for organisations that can help you with:

  • how to prepare for your day at court
  • help with the form
  • advice on the process
  • counselling support.

This can help you be prepared, especially if you:

  • disagree with the order being made or any of the conditions
  • have children who will be affected by the order
  • already have a parenting order
  • have needs that the court should consider (for example, you run a business from home which could be affected if you have to leave the house).
Conditions

The order will contain conditions. Conditions are rules that restrict the respondent’s behaviour. The conditions are to protect the applicant and other family members included in the order. 

These are some examples of conditions.

The respondent must not:

  • damage the ’s property, including things that are jointly owned by the protected person and respondent, such as pets
  • attempt to locate or follow the protected person or keep them under surveillance
  • publish on the internet or by email or 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 the order.

The applicant can also ask the magistrate to order the respondent to:

  • return the personal property of the protected person or a family member
  • return jointly owned property that allows the protected person’s everyday life to continue with little disruption
  • hand in any firearms or weapons to police
  • suspend or cancel any firearms authority, weapons approval or weapons exemption.

The applicant can also ask:

  • for the conditions to apply to an associate of the respondent 
  • to change (vary) or suspend a parenting order.

The magistrate makes the final decision on the conditions that will be in the order.

Breaking the conditions is very serious. If you break the conditions, this should be reported to the police.

Children

If a child hears, sees or is around family violence in any way, the law considers that they have been affected by family violence. This includes if a child sees:

  • police in their house
  • damaged family property 
  • a parent with injuries from family violence.

Children must be included on intervention orders if they have been affected by family violence. Children and other family members included on orders are called affected family members. 

When children are not included in an application, the magistrate will still ask if they have heard, seen or been around family violence in any way. The magistrate may decide to include them in the order or make a separate intervention order on their behalf.

The court may revive, vary, discharge or suspend any family law order made by the Federal Circuit Court or the Family Law Courts. This means the respondent will not be allowed to spend time with the children as set out in the parenting order until the family violence intervention order has been varied or lifted.

Let the court know about any child protection orders

If there are any child protection orders by the Department of Health and Human Services (Child Protection), the court needs to know about them. These will affect the conditions that can be in the intervention order. 

An intervention order is not a parenting order 

See the family law page for information about parenting orders. Parenting orders can cover:

  • who the children will live with
  • who the children spend time and communicate with
  • any other issues relevant to the care of the children, such as schooling or medical treatment.
Orders a magistrate can make

Interim intervention order

This is a temporary order that can be made before the respondent is told about the application. It is valid until the court makes another order.

Final intervention order

A magistrate can make an order after they have heard the evidence at a hearing. The magistrate must be satisfied that you have used family violence and you are likely to do so again.

A magistrate can also make a final order if:

  • both sides agree (consent) to the order being made
  • you have not opposed the order, for example, you did not turn up to the hearing.

The magistrate will determine how long it is necessary for the order to last to protect the safety of the affected family members.

Undertaking

An undertaking is an agreement made by the applicant and the respondent. It is not an order by court and the police cannot enforce it.

The undertaking lists ways you must behave; you have to sign it as a promise that you will follow the agreement.

The application for a family violence intervention order will be withdrawn.

When you do not follow the undertaking, the applicant can choose to reinstate the application. 

Further and better particulars

This is a document that gives details of the incidents described in an application for an intervention order.

A magistrate can order to have this if an applicant or respondent asks for more details, or if it will help the magistrate.

Struck out/withdrawn

The court can strike out an application if:

  • the applicant does not attend court on the hearing day, or 
  • the magistrate believes there are no grounds for an intervention order to be made.

The court can withdraw an application if:

  • the applicant no longer wants to pursue it, or 
  • all parties agree to an undertaking. 

When you do not follow the undertaking, the applicant can choose to reinstate the application.

Order refused

After hearing the evidence, the court can refuse to make an intervention order if it believes there is not enough evidence to support the application.

Counselling orders

Magistrates can make counselling orders that require a male respondent to attend a Men’s Behaviour Change Program. 

See the family violence courts and counselling orders page for more information.

Suspension or cancellation of firearms authority, weapons approval or weapons exemption

If you have lost your firearms licence because of an intervention order, you may be able to apply to court to be ‘deemed a non-prohibited person’. You will have to explain why you need a gun licence.

Contact your relevant court for more information.

It’s important to understand what this order is about. There are organisations that can help you. See find support to get legal advice and support.

Last updated on 28 Mar 2019
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