How Do I get a Domestic Violence Protection Order in Queensland?
Domestic violence is a very real, and very serious problem. In Queensland there are laws in place to protect any person from abuse by their domestic partner.
Domestic violence includes acts of physical or sexual abuse, emotional or psychological abuse, economic abuse, threatening or coercive behavior, or behavior that in any way controls, dominates or causes a person to fear for their personal safety or well being.
The types of relationships that domestic violence occurs in are:
Intimate personal relationships: whether a de facto, an engaged couple, a registered relationship or a spousal relationship;
Informal care relationships: where the victim is dependent on the other person’s help for their daily living or activities, like preparing food and attending to the victims personal needs.
The Purpose of a Domestic Violence Order.
When a relationship becomes abusive, there are many organizations and support structures set up to protect a spouse, child, relative or other persons from suffering any further acts of abuse.
The aggrieved party can ask for help from a police officer, solicitor, or any other authorized person, like a community welfare worker, a friend or a relative to either:
Apply to a Magistrate for a Protection Order to stop the violence.
Apply for a Temporary Protection Order from the Court; or
Press charges in court against the person who caused you physical, emotional or psychological harm.
A domestic violence order can either be a Protection Order or a Temporary Protection Order. The respondent faces the very real possibility of imprisonment and payment of fines if they violate the conditions imposed in an order.
This is a long-term order; it orders the respondent not to further harm the victim. The court can impose conditions in the order, like that the respondent must stay away from the victim, or the order may prohibit the respondent from entering the aggrieved person’s home or workplace.
An application for a Protection Order is heard by the Magistrates Court. The court can also grant a Temporary Protection Order pending the final decision of your application for a Protection Order.
Temporary Protection Order
A Temporary Protection Order is a short, but immediate Protection Order that is enforceable. A Temporary Protection Order is made to ensure your safety pending the final decision of the court of your Protection Order application.
Protection Orders from other States
It is also important to note that a Protection Order made elsewhere in Australia or New Zealand can be enforced in Queensland, but only when the order has been registered.
Similarly, an order issued by a Queensland Court can be enforced elsewhere in Australia and New Zealand, by registering the Protection Order with the relevant state or territories court.
The new Domestic and Family Violence Protection Act 2012
This law introduced new provisions to provide more protection to victims of domestic abuse in Queensland. The changes included the following:
A more comprehensive definition of domestic violence;
Stiffer penalty for those who violate the conditions stipulated in a protection order;
Expanded powers for the police; and
Simplified requirements to issue protection order by courts.
The law has been expanded to be more comprehensive; it now includes all actions and behaviors that will likely lead to physical, sexual, emotional, psychological, and economic abuse. It now also includes behavior that is threatening, coercive or in any way controls or dominates a person and causes that person to fear for their personal safety or wellbeing, or the wellbeing of someone else.
The law also imposes stronger penalties to those who violate the conditions of a Protection Order. The maximum penalty is now 2 years imprisonment and up to a $6,000 fine. Previously the maximum penalty was 12 months imprisonment and up to a $4,000 fine.
In addition, the law also provides wider powers to Queensland Police to issue protection notices. A police issued notice works like a Temporary Protection Order that is issued by regular courts. The notice may impose conditions to prohibit the respondent from entering the conjugal home, or it may direct the offender to stay away from the victim, or not to make contact or attempt to make contact, or ask someone else to contact with the aggrieved party for a period of up to 24 hours.
For any violation, the police have the power to detain the offender for up to a period of 8 hours if they reasonably believe that it is necessary to protect the aggrieved from further harm.
Furthermore, the requirements to issue protection order by courts have been lessened slightly. The courts now have more leeway to issue protection orders. The new laws no longer require that courts be satisfied that that the person who committed domestic violence is likely to commit domestic violence again, or if the act of domestic violence was a threat, that the person is likely to carry out the threat.
The Magistrates Court will issue a Protection Order if:
An act of domestic violence occurred; and
A domestic relationship exists and
A Protection Order is necessary to protect the victim from further domestic violence.
Witnesses may be required to present evidence to the court of domestic violence but they can do so in a safe environment without coming face to face with the offender or the victim. This can be done through the use of a video link or a one-way glass screen. The witness can also give evidence in a place outside of the courtroom accompanied by a person appointed by the court to provide emotional support.
If You are a Victim of Violence, What Should You Do?
Every person has the right to live peacefully and free from fear of violence or abuse. A victim of domestic violence can apply for a Protection Order from the Magistrates Court or they can get a police officer, lawyer or another party authorised to apply for a Protection Order in their behalf.