An intervention order is a court order designed to protect a person by placing limits on the behaviour of another person.
An intervention order can be made to protect a person from:
- physical assault
- sexual assault
- property damage or interference with property
- serious threats, or
- stalking which might include following you, hanging around your home or workplace, phoning/emailing/texting you.
A family violence intervention order can be made against a family member or a person you have had a relationship with. A personal safety intervention order can be made against a person who is not a family member.
Words used in the order
The "affected family member" or "affected person" is called the "protected person" when an intervention order is made.
The person who applies for an intervention order on their own behalf or on behalf of another person is called the "applicant".
The person who the order is against is called the "respondent".
When can an intervention order be made?
In order to make an intervention order the court must believe that:
- certain conduct has been carried out by the respondent towards the affected family member/affected person; and
- the conduct is likely to occur again; and
- the intervention order is needed to protect the affected family member/affected person's safety.
When can an application for an intervention order be heard in the Children's Court?
An application for an intervention order can be heard in the Children's Court when either the affected family member/affected person or the respondent is a child (a child being a person under the age of 18 years).
The Children's Court can also hear an application for an intervention order when both the affected family/affected person and the respondent are adults if there is a related child protection proceeding. This would be if:
- the child who is the subject of the child protection proceeding is the child of, or is under the care and supervision of, the affected family member/affected person or the respondent; and
- the application for the intervention order raises the same or similar concerns relating to the safety of the child as those raised in the child protection proceeding.
Can I get an intervention order straight away?
Sometimes the court will make an immediate temporary order called an interim intervention order. An interim intervention order may be made if the court is satisfied that it is necessary to ensure the safety of the affected family member/affected person or to preserve their property. This will be followed by another hearing on a later date to decide if a final order should be made. An interim order will usually last until the final hearing of the application.
How do I get an intervention order?
Telephone your nearest Children's Court or Magistrates' Court to arrange an appointment with a registrar. The registrar will give you an application form to fill in. You will then have an interview with the registrar. They will ask you some questions about what has happened and why you want the order. The registrar can also give you information about how to get legal advice.
If the police have been involved in your situation they may make an application for an intervention order on your behalf.
What happens after the interview?
After the interview a court date will be set. A copy of the court paperwork including your application will be sent to the police and they will give a copy to the respondent. What happens next depends on whether the respondent decides to come to court and whether or not they agree to the making of an intervention order. If they do not agree, then a date for a contested court hearing will be set.
How long does an order last?
An intervention order will be made for any length of time that the court thinks appropriate. Before an order expires the court can consider extending the order for a longer period. Asking for an intervention order to be extended means there will be another court hearing for the magistrate to decide what should happen.
Can an order be changed?
Sometimes circumstances change after an intervention order has been made. Either the affected family member/affected person or the respondent can apply to the court to have the order changed or “varied”. An application can also be made to have the order cancelled or “revoked”. There will be another hearing and the magistrate will decide what should happen.
Breaking an intervention order
Breaking or “contravening” an intervention order is a criminal offence. The person breaking the order may be charged by the police. A penalty may be imposed if the person is found guilty by the court.
Contact Victoria Legal Aid for more information on intervention orders and how a lawyer can help.
Watch the Eastern Community Legal Centre's DVD on Steps 2 Safety about the family violence intervention order process.
Who else can help?
- Victoria Police
If you are in danger and need urgent help, call the emergency number 000 and ask for the police. If it is not an emergency, you can call or go to your local police station.
- Victims of Crime Helpline
The Victims of Crime Helpline (tel: 1800 819 817) can assist you if you are a victim of stalking. They will also be able to help you if you have been a victim of a crime such as an assault, sexual assault, threats or harassment.