Domestic Violence Law in Queensland
What is domestic and family violence?
Domestic violence behaviours include when another person you are in a relationship with:
- is physically, sexually, emotionally, psychologically or economically abusive to you, or
- is threatening, coercive, or in any other way controls or dominates you and causes you to fear for your safety or wellbeing.
Examples of this type of behaviour include:
- injuring or threatening to injure you – punching, strangling you, grabbing your throat, pushing, slapping, pulling your hair or twisting your arms
- repeatedly calling, SMS texting, or emailing you or contacting you on your social networking site without your consent
- damaging (or threatening to damage) your property, for example, punching holes in the walls or breaking plates
- stalking or following you or remaining outside your house or place of work
- monitoring you (unauthorised surveillance) including reading your text messages, your email account, your internet browser history or your social networking site
- getting someone else to injure, intimidate, harass or threaten you, or damage your property
- threatening to commit suicide or self-harm to scare you
- coercing you to give them your social security payments
- forcing you to sign a power of attorney to them against your will so that they manage your finances
- preventing you from making or keeping connections with your family, friends or culture, including cultural or spiritual ceremonies or practices.
If another person does any of these things you can apply to a ‘Magistrate’ at a ‘Magistrates Court’ for a ‘Domestic Violence Order’. You do not have to have been physically injured to have experienced domestic violence or for domestic violence offences to occur.
If you are needing advice about your matter we’d suggest that you consult with a lawyer that is experienced in this area, such as a criminal lawyer.
What can the court do?
The court will make an order if it accepts that there has been an act of domestic violence, you and the other person are in one of the relationships covered by the law (see below) and the court thinks a domestic violence order is necessary in your situation.
If a ‘domestic violence order’ is made, the person for whose protection it is made is known as the ‘aggrieved’, and the person who the order is made against is the ‘respondent’. The order gives the aggrieved an extra level of protection. It is a very serious offence to breach the order, and will usually attract very heavy penalties, including terms of imprisonment.
Who does the law protect, ie what is a domestic violence order?
The law provides protection from violence for people who are, or have been in:
- an intimate personal relationship (married, de facto, registered relationship, engaged, dating)
- a family relationship (a parent, or former parent, of a child, or your relatives)
- an informal care relationship (where one person is dependent on the other person for help in an activity of daily living like dressing and cooking for them).
Can family and friends be protected?
Yes. The law can also protect your family, friends, a new partner and workmates.
When domestic violence is committed against these people it is called ‘associated domestic violence’. You can ask that your family, friends, new partner or workmates be included on your domestic violence order as ‘named persons’.
What about children?
Children can also be included on a domestic violence order to protect them from violence. This can include your children, or children who usually live with you (this means a child who spends time at your home on a regular or on-going basis). This could include step-children or other children who spend time at your house on weekends or school holidays. It can also include an unborn child (the order would have a condition that takes effect when the child is born).
Children can be included on a domestic violence protection order if the court thinks it is necessary to protect the child from domestic violence. The law says a child has been exposed to domestic violence if they hear or see or otherwise experience domestic violence. This could include helping a family member who has been hurt as a result of domestic violence or seeing damaged property in the home.
If the court is aware that you have children living with you or regularly visiting your home, then it must consider including those children on the domestic violence order.
Who is not covered by domestic violence laws?
The law does not protect neighbours or flatmates. Additionally, the laws do not provide protection for parents from their children (if the child is aged under 18 years of age). If you have children under the age of 18 who are being violent to you, this is considered to be within the scope of the child protection system and is not covered by the domestic violence laws. Likewise, children under 18 years of age can’t apply for an order against their parents or family members unless they are named in someone else’s application.
How do I apply for a domestic violence order?
You can apply for a ‘domestic violence order’ yourself at any ‘Magistrates Court’ or get a police officer, solicitor or authorised person (friend, relative, community/welfare worker) to apply for you. You should get legal advice before applying for a domestic violence order. Many criminal lawyers are experienced in this area and you should discuss your matter with an expert before taking further steps.
If you’re needing advice or assistance with legal matters (including Apprehended Violence Orders) or need a domestic violence lawyer; Cridland & Hua are the specialists amongst Brisbane Law Firms. Contact us today.