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Domestic and Family Violence Protection Act (Qld)

Queensland introduced the Domestic and Family Violence Protection Act 2012 to provide enhanced protection for victims of domestic and family violence. This legislation is notable because it expanded the definition of domestic and family violence, increased the availability and effectiveness of domestic violence orders (DVOs), and made it easier for police and community groups to protect victims of domestic and family violence.

What is Domestic and Family Violence?

Domestic and family violence is defined as an individual abusing someone related to them through a personal, familial or informal care relationship, in order to achieve control or power over them. Under Queensland law today, domestic and family violence includes physical, sexual, emotional, psychological and economic abuse.

The Act expanded the definition of domestic violence in Queensland to include economic abuse. Economic abuse can include actions such as coercing someone to surrender property or income, disposing of property without permission, or refusing to provide access to funds necessary to meet household expenses. This is a class of domestic abuse that is on the rise, especially in relation to the misuse of property belonging to elders: in the case of elder abuse, sometimes neither the victim nor the perpetrator recognises the behaviour as a form of family violence.

How Do You Obtain an AVO under the Act?

The Domestic and Family Violence Act made important changes to the requirements that must be satisfied before a victim can be granted an Apprehended Violence Order (AVO). Unlike the previous legislation, there is no requirement in the Act to prove that domestic violence has already occurred, and is likely to reoccur; it is sufficient that the court is convinced that the applicant is fearful of the respondent, irrespective of whether there are reasonable grounds for this fear.

The Domestic and Family Violence Act also expanded the categories of people eligible to apply for a DVO. Prior to this, only the aggrieved (the victim) or a police officer could make an application, but under the 2012 Act, any person can make an application on behalf of the aggrieved. This allows concerned family members to take action, even when the abused person is too fearful to do so.

The Domestic and Family Violence Act increased the penalty for breaching a protection order, with the maximum penalty rising to a fine of 120 penalty units or three years imprisonment. The Act was updated in 2016, removing any requirement for DVOs to be for a maximum of two years, and broadening the court’s discretion as to deciding the duration of the order while providing victims with long-term protection. The default duration of a DVO is five years from commencement: it is notable that the court can only stipulate less than five years if there is justification to do so.

Do DVOs Apply Across Australia?

The 2016 amendments allowed Queensland to participate in the National Domestic Violence Order Scheme (NDVOS). The NDVOS provides automatic mutual recognition of domestic violence orders (DVOs) issued across Australia. This allows victims of domestic violence to receive protection when they move interstate, without having to reapply to the courts of a new jurisdiction.

Another key change from the 2016 amendments was new information sharing amongst government and community support groups to allow for risk assessment and management of domestic violence threats. This enables the Queensland Police Service to refer both victims and respondents to specialist domestic and family violence service providers. While sharing information with consent remains the preferred approach, disclosure of a restricted amount of information without consent is permitted if a risk assessment finds there are grounds for concern for the safety of any person.

What are Police Protection Notices?

The Domestic and Family Violence Act granted police enhanced powers to issue a police protection notice (PPN), which can ban someone from a particular premise for 24 hours. This law requires police to provide proactive protection to complaining victims until the court can hear an application for a DVO. The protections offered by PPNs were also expanded to better defend victims and their families.

What Provisions are Made to Support Domestic Violence Offenders?

The Domestic and Family Violence Protection Act also recognised the need to provide greater support for offenders in domestic and family violence situations. Even in circumstances of family violence, the law exhibits a preference for protecting victims and rehabilitating offenders, rather than merely delivering punishment to offenders. For instance, the Domestic and Family Violence Protection Act allows courts to issue domestic violence offenders with orders that require them to take part in intervention programs such as anger management programs or counselling.

If you have any questions relating to the Domestic and Family Violence Protection Act 2012 or about seeking or responding to a DVO application, please call Armstrong Legal on 1300 038 223 or send us an email to make an appointment.

Dr Nicola Bowes

This article was written by Dr Nicola Bowes

Dr Nicola Bowes holds a Bachelor of Arts with first class honours from the University of Tasmania, a Bachelor of Laws with first class honours from the Queensland University of Technology, and a PhD from The University of Queensland. After a decade working in higher education, Nicola joined Armstrong Legal in 2020.

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