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Who does the law protect?

Which relationships are protected?

The Domestic and Family Violence Protection Act 2012 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 order if the court thinks it is necessary or desirable 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 Domestic and Family Violence Protection Act 2012 does not protect:

  • neighbours
  • flatmates.

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.

Does my interstate or New Zealand domestic violence order protect me in Queensland?

New laws have been introduced—see the National Domestic Violence Order Scheme for details. This content is under review.

Yes, but you must register the order. You must complete an Application for Registration in Queensland of an Interstate Domestic Violence Order at a magistrates court. If you do not have a copy of the interstate domestic violence order, the clerk of the court can get one at no cost to you. The court will give you and the Police Commissioner a certificate of registration with a copy of the registered interstate order attached. The respondent will not be given a copy of the registration unless you agree in writing. This is to protect the identification of your location.

Will my immigration status be affected?

If you are an Australian permanent resident or citizen, your partner cannot have you deported if you separate.

If you are an applicant for a permanent visa, sponsored by your Australian partner, then your partner may contact the Department of Immigration and Border Protection (DIBP) if you separate. The DIBP may then review your situation. Any decisions about your immigration status will be made by the DIBP and not your partner.

A threat by a visa sponsor to have their partner deported often occurs with other forms of abuse and intimidation or control. It may mean you are experiencing domestic violence. If you leave your partner and have experienced domestic violence it may mean you can apply to the DIBP to remain permanently in Australia in your own right.

If you are considering leaving your partner, you should get legal advice before making that decision. If you do separate from your sponsoring partner, then you should get legal advice urgently because a visa applicant must notify the DIBP of any changes to their circumstances.

For more information contact:

  • Legal Aid Queensland on 1300 65 11 88
  • Refugee and Immigration Legal Service on (07) 3846 9300
  • Immigrant Women’s Support Service on (07) 3846 3490
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