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Domestic violence

What is domestic violence?

Domestic violence behaviour includes when another person you are in a relationship with:

  • is physically or sexually abusive to you, or
  • is emotionally or psychologically abusive to you, or
  • is economically abusive to you, or
  • is threatening, or
  • is coercive, or
  • in any other way controls or dominates you and causes you to fear for your safety or wellbeing or that of someone else.

Examples of this type of behaviour include:

  • injuring you or threatening to injure you – punching, strangling you, grabbing your throat, pushing, slapping, pulling your hair or twisting your arms
  • repeatedly calling, SMS texting or emailing you, or contacting you on your social networking site without your consent
  • damaging (or threatening to damage) your property, eg punching holes in the walls or breaking plates
  • stalking or following you or remaining outside your house or place of work
  • monitoring you (unauthorised surveillance) including reading your text messages, your email account, your internet browser history or your social networking site
  • putting you down or making racial taunts
  • holding you against your will
  • forcing you to engage in sexual activities without your consent
  • getting someone else to injure, intimidate, harass or threaten you, or damage your property
  • threatening to commit suicide or self-harm to scare you
  • threatening you with the death or harm of another person
  • threatening to withdraw their care of you if you don’t do something
  • coercing you to give them your social security payments
  • forcing you to sign a power of attorney to them against your will so they manage your finances
  • threatening to disclose your sexual orientation to your friends or family without your consent
  • preventing you from making or keeping connections with your family, friends or culture, including cultural or spiritual ceremonies or practices.

If another person does any of these things you can apply to a magistrate at a magistrates court for a domestic violence order. You do not have to have been physically injured to have experienced domestic violence.

No one has the right to hurt or threaten another person. These laws protect everyone who lives in Australia. If you are on a visa and there is domestic violence get legal help immediately.

Violent behaviour is against the law and you can take action to stop it. Help is available.

What can I do if there is domestic violence?

Take action to make sure you and your children are safe. You can:

  • call the police on 000
  • call a domestic violence service or other local community organisation; if you would like information about accommodation in a women's refuge call 1800 811 811
  • get legal help
  • apply for a domestic violence order
  • apply for a temporary protection order
  • ask the police to press charges against the person being violent
  • get support from family and friends.

See ‘Where to go for help’.

What is a domestic violence order?

A domestic violence order puts limits on the behaviour of the person who is being violent towards you. They must be well behaved towards you and anyone else named in the order. Once an order has been made, it is illegal for them to breach the order and they can't own a weapon or have a weapons' licence. The conditions outlined in a domestic violence order will vary from case to case, but could include conditions that stop a person from:

  • coming to your workplace or home
  • going near you, your relatives or friends (eg they might have to stay at least 100 metres away)
  • living in the home they shared with you
  • trying to locate you
  • having any contact with you by telephone except for mediation or counselling
  • going to places where your children frequently visit, like their school or kindy.

Who can apply for a domestic violence order?

You can apply for a domestic violence order if you are experiencing violence in a relationship. Relationships covered by the law include:

  • an intimate personal relationship (married, defacto, registered relationship, engaged, couple)
  • a family relationship
  • an informal care relationship (when one person is dependent on the other person for help in an activity of daily living like dressing and cooking for them).

How do I get a domestic violence order?

You can apply for a domestic violence order at a magistrates court or get a police officer, lawyer or someone you trust to apply for you. You should get legal advice before applying for a domestic violence order.

You can get a free factsheet and guide about obtaining a domestic violence protection order from Legal Aid Queensland online at www.legalaid.qld.gov.au

What happens when I apply?

For urgent applications

If you believe your safety is at risk, and the normal application process won’t protect you quickly enough, you can make an application for a temporary protection order. You’ll go to court soon after you apply and it will be done before the respondent is told about your application. You will be given another date when you and the respondent will have to go to court to tell the magistrate about your situation. If you have a lawyer, they may be able to go to this court hearing for you.

For non-urgent applications

After you’ve submitted your application, you will be given a date to go to court. The date and a copy of your application will be given to the respondent. The respondent can choose to agree to a domestic violence order being made, oppose your application or ask for another court date to give them time to get legal advice. If they disagree, another court date will be made for a hearing.

What if the order is broken?

You should call the police immediately if the respondent breaks the conditions of the domestic violence order. The police will investigate and if it can be proved the order was broken, the respondent will be charged with breaching the domestic violence order, which is a criminal offence. They could also be charged with other criminal offences depending on the circumstances. It will help the police if you have proof the order was broken, like recordings of abusive telephone messages, diary entries you made about the violence and the names of family, friends and neighbours who witnessed the behaviour.

What if someone has applied for a domestic violence order against me?

If someone has applied for a domestic violence order against you there are four options to consider. You can:

  • Consent to an order being made. A consent order will only be made if you say you agree with the order in person, through a solicitor or in writing. You might want to agree to an order being made without admitting to the facts. This is called “consenting without admission”.
  • Ask for the proceedings to be adjourned so you can get legal advice.
  • Oppose the orders the aggrieved has asked for. If this happens, the court will give the aggrieved a hearing date.
  • Do nothing (and not attend court).

If you agree to the orders being made, an order can be made by consent when the application goes before the magistrate. The order will usually remain in force for up to two years, or longer if there are special reasons.

If you ask to have the matter adjourned, the magistrate will normally adjourn it for four weeks to allow you time to get legal advice before the next court appearance. The magistrate may issue a temporary protection order to the person who applied until a further order is made or until the next hearing.

You should get legal advice before deciding whether you want to agree or disagree with the domestic violence order application or before asking for a hearing date.

If a domestic violence order is made, it may affect licences and other cards you hold including weapons’ and security licences. A copy of the actual domestic violence order application will be delivered to you by the police — read it carefully because it will explain when and where you have to go to court.

Do I have to follow the conditions in the domestic violence order?

Yes. You should try to follow the conditions set out in the domestic violence order or it may be difficult for the police to prove the other person has breached the order. For example, if the domestic violence order says they cannot telephone you, you should try not to telephone them either. If the domestic violence order stops them from coming within 50 metres of you, you should not come within 50 metres of them.

How long will the order last?

When a magistrate makes a final domestic violence order they decide how long the order will last. The order will usually last two years but may last longer if there are special reasons. You may decide to apply to vary the order within that time to end it sooner. Get legal advice if you decide to apply to vary the order.

Can I change the order?

You can apply to change the order. If you want to change the terms or conditions of the order, you must fill out an Application to vary a domestic violence order form, which is available from the court.

Will a domestic violence order affect my existing family law orders?

The magistrate must consider any family law orders you have before deciding to make or vary a domestic violence order. If you have a family law order about your children, or if you have proceedings in the family law courts about your children you must tell the magistrate. A magistrate can consider changing your family law order if:

  • the conditions in the order are in conflict with conditions in your domestic violence order, and
  • the conditions in the order could make you, your children or anyone else named in your domestic violence application unsafe.

For example, if your family law order allows the other person to come to your home to collect your children and these visits lead to verbal abuse, threats or any other act of domestic violence, the magistrate can vary the family law order to make the collection point away from where you live. The magistrate can also discharge or suspend your existing parenting order if they are satisfied it would be unsafe for you or the children to continue spending time with the respondent.

If you have a domestic violence order and you later apply to a family law court for a parenting order or an order about your children, you must tell the court about the domestic violence order. If there are any differences between a parenting order and a domestic violence order, the parenting order overrides the domestic violence order.

If you feel the children are at risk of physical or psychological harm from seeing or communicating with their other parent, get legal help and other support quickly.

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