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Domestic and family violence information

Changes to this area of law
There have recently been changes to this area of law. We are working to review the information on this page and how these changes may affect you.  Contact us to get help.

Everyone has the right to live without fear of violence or abuse.

If there is violence or you or your children have been threatened, get help from the police. Call 000 if you think you’re in danger.

You can also get help and support from family and domestic violence services:

If you’re experiencing domestic violence, you can:

  • apply for a domestic violence order or ask the police to apply for you
  • apply for an urgent temporary protection order
  • ask the police to  charge the person being violent.

Get legal advice.

If you or your children are at risk of immediate harm, call the police. In an emergency, call 000 . Get legal advice.

The Domestic and Family Violence Protection Act 2012

The Domestic and Family Violence Protection Act 2012 was created to give people legal protection from violent relationships.
If you’re experiencing domestic violence, you can:

  • apply for a domestic violence order or ask the police to apply for you
  • apply for an urgent temporary protection order
  • ask the police to press charges against the person being violent.

Family and domestic violence services  can help you work out a plan to leave the relationship safely.

Call DV Connect on 1800 811 811, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

How to apply for domestic violence order

You should take important documents and items with you when you leave. See separation for a list of items you may need. Don’t put yourself in danger by arguing over belongings if you’re leaving a relationship. 

No one has the right to hurt or threaten another person. These laws protect everyone who lives in Australia. If you’re on a visa and there’s family violence, get legal help immediately. In Brisbane, you can contact the Refugee and Immigration Legal Service (RAILS).

When dealing with a domestic violence order application:

  • The person who wants protection is called the ‘aggrieved’.
  • The person alleged to have committed domestic violence is called the ‘respondent’.

What is domestic and family violence?

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

  • is physically or sexually abusive to you
  • is emotionally or psychologically abusive to you
  • is economically abusive to you
  • is threatening to you
  • is coercive, or
  • 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
  • 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 into giving 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.

You don’t have to have been physically injured to have experienced domestic violence.

What is a domestic violence order?

A domestic violence or protection order is a court order limiting the behaviour of the person who is being violent (the respondent).
It must include conditions that the respondent is well behaved toward you and your child/ren or anyone else named on the order. The court can also include other conditions stopping a person from approaching, contacting or locating you, or anyone else named in the order, which could include coming to your home or workplace.
Once an order has been made, it’s a criminal offence for the respondent to breach (disobey) the order. They are also prohibited from having a weapon or a weapons licence. Get legal advice.

Who can apply for a domestic violence order?

If you’re experiencing domestic violence you can apply for a domestic violence order. The person who wants protection is called the ‘aggrieved’.
The law protects people who are, or have been in the following types of relationships:

  • an intimate personal relationship (married, de facto, registered relationship, engaged, couple)
  • 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).

The police may decide to apply for a domestic violence order for you even if you don’t agree. See—how can the police help?

Can a child apply for or respond to a domestic violence order? 

Children under 18 can only be the applicant or a respondent to a domestic violence order if they’re in, or have been in:

  • an intimate personal relationship (married, de facto, registered relationship, engaged, couple)
  • 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)

Children can’t be an applicant or respondent to a domestic violence order if it relates to a family relationship. A child can’t apply for a domestic violence order against their parent or guardian and a parent or guardian can’t apply for a domestic violence order against their child.

If someone applies for a domestic violence order against a child, copies of the documents served on the child must be given to one of their parents. The child shouldn’t be served at school, unless there is no other way to serve them. 

Can children be included on a domestic violence order?

You can request for your children to be included on a domestic violence order to protect them from violence. This includes your children and any other children living with you (ie any children spending time at your home on a regular or ongoing basis). This includes step-children or other children who spend time at your home 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’s necessary or desirable to protect the child from domestic violence. The law says a child has been exposed to domestic violence if they hear, see or ‘otherwise experience’ domestic violence. This could include:

  • helping a family member who has been hurt as a result of domestic violence
  • seeing damaged property in the home.

If the court knows you have children living with you or regularly visiting your home, then it must consider including those children on the domestic violence order.

How do I apply?

You can apply for a domestic violence order at a Magistrates Court using a Form DV01 – Application for a protection order (PDF, 216.3KB),  or you can get a police officer, lawyer or someone you trust to apply for you.

To get a domestic violence order, you must prove:

  • there is a relevant relationship
  • there has been a past act of domestic violence
  • an order is necessary or desirable.

Get legal advice.

The application process

Urgent applications

If you think you’re unsafe, and the normal application process won’t protect you quickly enough, you can apply for an urgent temporary protection order.
You’ll go to court soon after you apply—before the respondent is told about your application. You’ll 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.

Non-urgent applications

After you’ve submitted your application, you’ll 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 the application for an order
  • ask for another court date to give them time to get legal advice.

If the respondent disagrees with the application for a domestic violence order another court date will be made for a hearing.

How can the police help?

The police must investigate if they suspect there is domestic violence in a relationship. If they reasonably believe domestic violence has been committed they can:

  • charge the respondent with a criminal offence (eg stalking, assault, grievous bodily harm)
  • issue a police protection notice—issued on the spot and protects you straight away from any further domestic violence acts (it has the same effect as a court order until the matter is heard in court).
  • apply to a court for a domestic violence order for you
  • apply to a court to change an existing domestic violence order
  • take the respondent into custody—if the respondent is likely to injure someone or damage property
  • apply directly to a magistrate for an urgent temporary order. 

Breaching a domestic violence order

If the respondent breaks (contravenes) the domestic violence order conditions, call the police immediately. In an emergency, call 000. It’s a criminal offence to breach a domestic violence order.

The police will investigate, and if they can prove the order was broken, the respondent will be charged with breaching the domestic violence order. They could also be charged with other criminal offences depending on the situation.

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.

Changing a domestic violence order 

The aggrieved, the respondent or any other person named in the order can apply to change (vary ) the domestic violence order. If the police have taken out the order they can oppose this .
The aggrieved or the respondent can apply to change:

  • the order’s conditions
  • the people named in the order
  • the order’s length (to have it end sooner or make it longer).

Persons who are named in the order (eg your friends and family) can only apply to change the parts of the order that relate to them.
When deciding whether to change (vary) an order, the court must consider:

  • the wishes of the aggrieved or any other person named on the order
  • whether the aggrieved or any other person named in the order may have been pressured
  • the safety, protection or wellbeing of the aggrieved or any other person named in the order.

The court will only change the order if it’s satisfied the aggrieved, or any other person named on the order would not be adversely affected by the change.

To apply to change the order’s terms or conditions, you will need to complete a Form  DV04 Application to vary a domestic violence order (PDF, 298.9KB).

If there’s a domestic violence order between you and your partner, you should get legal advice about living together. The respondent may be breaching the order just by being near you. You can have a domestic violence order and still live with each other.

What if someone has taken out a domestic violence protection order or a police protection notice has been issued against me?

If someone has taken out a domestic violence protection order or the police have issued a police protection notice against you :

  • don’t break (contravene) the order or the notice, even if you don’t agree with it. Read it carefully. For example, you may be able to stay in the home, but ordered to stop harassing, hurting or threatening the other person.
  • go to court — an order can be made even if you don’t go.
  • get legal help. The conditions of an order or notice are serious and breaching a domestic violence order (including any temporary orders) is a criminal offence. If you are found guilty of breaching the protection order, you could face a fine, a term of imprisonment or both.
  • get support from family, friends or a support service.

Domestic violence order and parenting 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 there are proceedings in the family law courts about your children, you must:

  • tell the magistrate
  • attach a copy of the order to your application for a domestic violence order, or give a copy to 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
  • 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 respondent 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 change 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’re 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 you have a domestic violence order and a family law order that are inconsistent, you should get legal advice.

Voluntary intervention orders

If a court makes or varies (changes) a domestic violence order, it can also make a voluntary intervention order requiring the respondent to attend an intervention program, perpetrators’ program or counselling to address their behaviour.
This order can only be made if the respondent is present at court, they agree to the voluntary intervention order being made or varied, and they agree to comply. You should get legal advice.

Interstate or New Zealand domestic violence orders

 If you’ve got an interstate or New Zealand domestic violence order, you should register it in Queensland. A domestic violence order from any Australian state, territory or New Zealand will apply in Queensland if it’s registered. 

To register the order complete an Application for Registration in Queensland of an Interstate Domestic Violence Order (PDF, 147KB) at a Magistrate’s Court.

There’s no cost to register the order. If you don’t have a copy of the interstate domestic violence order, the clerk of the court can get one for 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 won’t be given a copy of the registration unless you agree in writing—this is to prevent them knowing your location.

Do I need legal advice?

You may need legal advice if:

  • you or your children are at risk of domestic or family violence or abuse
  • you need help to work out a plan to leave a relationship safely
  • you want to apply for a domestic violence order
  • someone has applied for a domestic violence order against you
  • you have been issued with a police protection notice
  • police have made an application for a domestic violence order against you or your partner
  • you want to change a domestic violence order
  • you had to leave your home because of violence but your name is still on the lease
  • you had an order interstate or overseas and want to register it in Queensland
  • you have been asked to attend family dispute resolution but have concerns for your safety.

Get legal advice

We may provide legal advice and help on family and domestic violence.

The following organisations may be able to give legal advice.

Women's Legal Service gives free legal advice to women on areas of law including domestic violence and family law.

Queensland Indigenous Family Violence Legal Services (QIFVLS) provides legal and counselling services to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples suffering from the direct and indirect effects of domestic violence and sexual assault.

Community legal centres give legal advice on a range of topics. Contact them to find out if they can help with your matter.

Queensland Law Society can refer you to a specialist private lawyer for advice or representation.

Who else can help?

These organisations may be able to help. They don’t give legal advice.

Queensland Police Service responds to emergency situations (eg if there is violence or you or your children have been threatened). If you think you’re in immediate danger call 000.

Domestic and Family Violence Court Assistance Service gives information about domestic violence and helps with applications in some courts in Queensland. Court assistance workers can also help with legal aid applications and referrals to other services.

DV Connect gives counselling, information, referral and help including refuge and shelter placement and crisis intervention to people affected by domestic violence. They also manage the Pets in crisis project arranging foster care for pets while people affected by domestic violence are in temporary accommodation.

Mensline (DV Connect) is a free, confidential telephone counselling, referral and support service for men.

Immigrant Women's Support Service offers free confidential, practical and emotional support to immigrant and refugee women from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds and their children who have experienced domestic or sexual violence.

Family Relationship Advice Line is a free national telephone service giving help to families affected by relationship or separation issues, including parents, grandparents, children, young people, step-parents and friends.    

Men and Family Relationship Counselling Service provides services including domestic violence prevention counselling.

Women's Safety After Separation (WSAS) is an online resource for women facing separation, particularly where there is violence and abuse. Information includes online safety, emergency contacts, the legal system, recovery and survival.

Related links and information
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