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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, defacto, 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 with daily living activities like having a shower, getting dressed or cooking).

Can family and friends be protected?

Yes. Your family, friends, a new partner or workmates can be included on a domestic violence order as ‘named persons’ to protect them. When someone is domestically violent to these people it is called ‘associated domestic violence’.

What about children?

Children, or children who usually live with you or spend time with you, can be included on a domestic violence order to protect them. This could include step-children or other children who spend time at your house on weekends or school holidays. If you are pregnant, you can ask for the order to have a condition that takes effect to protect the child once they are born.

A magistrate must consider including children who have been exposed to 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:

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

If children are named on a domestic violence order, it does not replace a parenting order or determine when or how children spend time with either parent. If you have concerns about care arrangements for your children, you should get legal advice.

If you are worried about the safety of your children when they are in the care of the respondent, you can contact child safety authorities to discuss your concerns.

Who is not covered by domestic violence laws?

  • Neighbours, housemates or friends cannot apply for a domestic violence order against someone they are not in a relationship with, related to or caring for.
  • A parent cannot apply for a domestic violence order against their child if the child is under 18.
  • Children under 18 cannot apply for an order against their parents or family members.

Does my domestic violence order protect me throughout Australia and New Zealand?

Orders made in Australia or New Zealand on or after 25 November 2017 will be automatically recognised in both countries and all states and territories.

If you are concerned about a domestic violence order that was made before this date being enforced, call Legal Aid Queensland on 1300 65 11 88 for advice.

If I separate, can I be forced to leave Australia?

If you are an Australian permanent resident or an Australian citizen, you cannot be forced to leave Australia if you separate from your partner.

If you are on a temporary visa, a student visa, or you have applied for a permanent visa, or are sponsored by your Australian partner, then your partner may contact the relevant Australian Government department that oversees immigration if you separate. The government will review your situation. Any decisions about your immigration status will be made by the government and not your partner.

A threat by your partner to make you leave Australia if you separate from your partner is domestic violence.

If you are considering leaving your partner, you should get legal advice about the impact separation will have on your visa. If you do separate from your partner and they are sponsoring your visa, you should get legal advice urgently because it may be important that you let the government know of these changes before your partner does.

You can get legal advice from the Refugee and Immigration Legal Service on (07) 3846 9300.

Last updated 7 April 2021

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