Victoria Legal Aid

Family violence intervention orders

Information about family violence, harmful behaviour by a person that is used to control, threaten, force or dominate a family member through fear.

A family violence intervention order protects a person from a family member who is using family violence.

Family violence is harmful behaviour between family members that causes fear. It includes emotional and financial abuse, as well as physical violence and sexual abuse.

If you are experiencing family violence and the situation is urgent, do not wait to contact police on 000.

About intervention orders

You can apply for a family violence intervention order at your local Magistrates’ Court in Victoria. You can also ask Victoria PoliceExternal Link to apply for them. If you need protection straight away, a magistrate can put in place an interim intervention order. This provides protection from family violence until both sides can come to court. If you fear for your children’s safety you can include them in your application, as long as they are under the age of 18.

The person making an application for an intervention order is called the ‘applicant’. This may be a police officer, or someone seeking protection from family violence themselves.

The person the intervention order will protect is called the ‘affected family member’ when the application is made, or the ‘protected person’ once an order is put in place.

Intervention orders include conditions to stop the respondent from using family violence against the protected person. If the respondent breaks the conditions of an intervention order, police can charge them with a criminal offence.

What is family violence?

Family violence is harmful behaviour by a person that is used to control, threaten, force or dominate a family member through fear. It includes:

  • physical abuse, such as hitting or pushing a person
  • sexual abuse, such as forcing a person to have sex
  • emotional or psychological abuse, such as controlling who a person can see and when
  • financial or economic abuse, such as controlling a person's money without their consent
  • controlling behaviour, such as forcing a family member into a marriage.

Family violence is also behaviour that makes a family member fear for the safety of:

  • their property
  • another family member
  • an animal.

If a child hears, sees or is around family violence in any way, they are also covered by the law. This includes if a child:

  • comforts or helps a family member who has been physically or emotionally abused
  • sees property in the family home that has been damaged through family violence
  • is at a family violence incident when the police arrive.

The police have to respond to all reports of family violence. They can act even if you don’t want them to because they must put the safety of those experiencing family violence, including children, first.

Who are family members?

When making an application for a family violence intervention order, family members include:

  • people who share an intimate personal relationship – for example, married, de facto or domestic partners – whether or not there is a sexual relationship
  • parents and children, including step-children
  • relatives by birth, marriage or adoption
  • people you treat like a family member – for example, a carer, guardian or person who is related to you within the family structure of your culture.

The law also protects a person from anyone who was a family member in the past, including ex-partners.

More information

Conditions in a family violence intervention order

What the police do about family violence

Applying for a family violence intervention order

If an application has been made against you

Going to court for an intervention order hearing

How intervention orders work

Breaking an intervention order

Other support

Find out how you can get other support for violence, abuse and personal safety.

Publications and resources

Disclaimer: The material in this print-out relates to the law as it applies in the state of Victoria. It is intended as a general guide only. Readers should not act on the basis of any material in this print-out without getting legal advice about their own particular situations. Victoria Legal Aid disclaims any liability howsoever caused to any person in respect of any action taken in reliance on the contents of the publication.

We help Victorians with their legal problems and represent those who need it most. Find legal answers, chat with us online, or call us. You can speak to us in English or ask for an interpreter. You can also find more legal information at www.legalaid.vic.gov.au

Reviewed 08 June 2022

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