Does providing legal advice to respondents reduce the likelihood of breaching a family violence intervention order?

Does providing legal advice to respondents reduce the likelihood of breaching a family violence intervention order?

We provide legal advice to respondents in family violence matters to support the individual’s right to representation and ensure fairness in the legal process.

This paper reviews the literature on the impact of providing legal advice to respondents of a family violence intervention order (FVIO), and whether providing legal advice reduces the likelihood that a respondent will breach an order.

Key findings

The research indicates that there are many positive benefits, including:

  • Legal advice improves the respondent’s knowledge of the conditions of an FVIO, including the criminal consequences of breaching the order.
  • A respondent with a legal representative benefits from having the conditions of their FVIO ‘tailored’ to make the order more workable.
  • Respondents have increased knowledge of their options in responding to an FVIO.
  • Legal representation can assist in the courts' operation of FVIO proceedings and improve the mental state of respondents and victims.

Our data shows that between 2013 and 2014, almost 80 per cent of clients who received legal aid services after being charged with breach of an FVIO had not received legal advice before the breach. The literature emphasises the importance of providing legal advice: it is necessary to meet the needs of respondents in family violence matters. It is also believed that giving legal advice will benefit the victim and the community at large.

The limitations of the studies we examined are that they are based in New South Wales (so may not be applicable to the Victorian context), have small sample sizes and limited follow-up periods. Nevertheless, the research firmly identifies many other flow-on benefits from legal advice. Further research on this issue is a priority for VLA.

Read the full research brief

Does providing legal advice to respondents reduce the likelihood of breaching a family violence order? (docx, 269.35 KB)

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