What is family and domestic violence?
Under the Family Law Act 1975 (Cth), family and domestic violence is defined as behaviour which results in physical, sexual and/or psychological damage, forced social isolation, economic deprivation, or behaviour which causes the victim(s) to live in fear. Family and domestic violence can be experienced by people of all classes, religions, ethnicity, ages, abilities and sexual preference.
Family violence is not just physical violence. It can include forms of physical, financial, emotional and psychological abuse. Examples of family violence behaviour covered by the law include:
- hitting you;
- threatening to hit you;
- threatening to share or actually sharing intimate images;
- holding you against your will;
- not letting you have money when you depend on them for financial support;
- causing death or injury to your pets;;
- damaging property you own or jointly own;
- repeatedly sending you unwanted or offensive texts; or
- stopping you seeing or keeping in contact with friends, family or culture.
Even if the person gets someone else to do these sorts of things against you they will be taken to have committed family violence. A child is exposed to family violence if the child sees or hears family violence or otherwise experiences the effects of family violence.
Is it a crime?
YES it can be a crime! Examples of criminal offences that occur in family and domestic violence situations include assault, sexual assault, making threats about a person’s physical safety, stalking, damage or stealing of property and breaching Restraining Orders.
How to report family or domestic violence
If your life is in danger, call the Police at 000 immediately! If you need to report a breach of a Family Violence Order, or require non urgent Police attendance, please call 131 444.
When you call the Police, you should be prepared to answer these questions:
- The address where the incident is taking place.
- Your name and telephone number.
- The offender’s name, age and date of birth.
- Are there any weapons involved? Are you able to describe them?
- Are you the victim? If no, what’s the victim’s name?
If the incident is occurring while you are talking to the Police operator, stay on the telephone. Your safety is the most important thing in these situations.
How can police help?
If there is sufficient evidence, police will prosecute the accused person. If the court finds the person guilty, they will be convicted, and the court will punish him or her. Police can also issue a Police Order, help you to get a Family Violence Restraining Order, find a refuge or alternative accommodation. They can also refer you to support agencies such as Crisis Care, and counselling services.
What is a Police Order?
Where there is insufficient evidence to arrest and charge a person for any act of family and domestic violence, but police hold concerns for the safety and welfare of any person, police may issue a Police Order. Police may issue a Police Order without the requirement to obtain consent from any person for up to a period of 72 hours, as deemed necessary. A Police Order provides temporary but instant protection for a person who is being threatened, harassed or intimidated. It provides the opportunity for a person to attend court to obtain a Restraining Order. It is a criminal offence to breach a Police Order and if a breach occurs the accused person will be arrested and charged and faces a similar penalty to that of breaching a Restraining Order.
For more information about domestic violence, please do not hesitate to contact one of our friendly lawyers.