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Leaving an abusive relationship - strategies to consider.

2c. Family Violence Restraining Orders – What they are and how to get one

Est. read time: 2 min

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The WA Government has brought in new laws in relation to Family Violence Restraining Orders that include:

  • greater ability to require an offender to be subject to electronic monitoring in certain circumstances;
  •  improving access to restraining orders, including the ability to lodge restraining orders online; and
  •  increased penalties and time periods for prosecution of breach of restraining orders.

Further information can be found at the WA Government COVID-19 community advice page.

Online applications for family violence restraining orders can only be made by approved legal service providers.  These currently include Legal Aid WA, Community legal centres, Marninwarntikura Family Violence Prevention and Legal Unit,  and the Aboriginal Family Violence Service.  FAQs about online lodging can be found at the Victims of Crime WA website, or you can call the Legal Aid Infoline on 1300 650 579 (Monday – Friday, 9am – 4pm, except public holidays).

What are Family Violence Restraining Orders?

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A family violence restraining order (FVRO) is an order primarily designed to protect a person from being physically and/or psychologically abused by another person. The order prevents someone who is in a close family type relationship with you (i.e. current or former partner/spouse, family member) being able to communicate with you or visit you at home or your workplace. It can also prevent that person coming within a certain number of metres to where you may be at any time.

When there is a child or children involved, there are often exceptions made to the order to enable you to communicate with your former partner. Such exceptions can include but are not limited to:

  1. for the purposes of arranging for them to spend time with the children;
  2. to attend mediation or family dispute resolution to discuss arrangements for the children and ending your financial connection with that person and;
  3. to otherwise be able to communicate through lawyers.

How do I get a Family Violence Restraining Order?

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The main way of getting a restraining order is to apply to your local Magistrates Court. You will need to complete an application form and appear in Court to explain what has happened to you (e.g. abuse and threats) and your ongoing fear of such behaviour continuing. Find your local Magistrates Court.

You may also be able to seek a restraining order in the Children's Court of WA if the application involves children and you are related or involved in a child's care. More information can be found at the Children's Court website.

Help in the short term

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On some occasions Police issue what is known as a Police Order. This is a violence restraining order which may be issued by the Police usually after attending a call out to a home where one of the parties has alleged their partner/family member was physically or otherwise abusive towards them. These orders usually last for up to 72 hours. The Police normally then encourage the protected person to follow this up straight away by applying for a FVRO at the Magistrates Court.

Further information about FVROs, Police Orders and services offered by the WA Police, including how to report a breach of a FVRO can be found at the Legal Aid website and the WA Police website.

Further information about getting legal help with domestic and family violence matters can be found on the Family Violence Law Help webpage.

Where do FVROs Apply?

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Every new family violence restraining order and police order is automatically recognised and enforceable across Australia. This means that if you move or visit another state, you don't have to go to court to register your order, and the order can be enforced by local police no matter where in Australia the victim and perpetrator are located.

Further information in relation to accessing legal support can be found at 3g. Accessing Legal Services.

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