Receiving an Intervention Order
The paperwork lets you know that someone has applied for an intervention order against you and that you have to go to court about this. The paperwork includes all details of the allegations made against you. It will also include details about your court hearing, which court to go to and what date and time. An Intervention Order is a serious matter. You should come to court and participate in the hearing. If you do not, the Magistrate can make a Final Intervention order against you. This might stop you living in any house you share with the Affected Family Member. It might affect how often you see or talk with your children.
There are a number of services that are available for you to speak to at Court. Whether you are an Applicant or a Respondent, Support Workers can help you at most major courts across Victoria. The Registrar will ask you if want to speak to one. Support Workers can help you throughout your Court hearings. They can also refer you to support services in your community. After you leave court, you may need help to address your behaviour. The Support Worker can help you do this.
The Registrar will also ask if you would like to speak to a free Duty Lawyer. On the day of your hearing these lawyers can give free legal advice, negotiate with police or other lawyers for you, and may represent you in Court. If you need legal advice about other matters, or before you get to court, you can get help through Victoria Legal Aid, a community legal centre or a private legal practice. Victoria Legal Aid and community legal centres also offer free legal information online and in educational publications.
At Court, you have a number of options. You can agree to an intervention order being made against you. If you do, a Final Intervention Order can be made at first hearing about the application.
You can also oppose, or not agree, to an Intervention Order being made. The application will then be listed for a ‘contested hearing’. This means at a future date both you and the Affected Family Member can bring witnesses to Court to give evidence. Based on this evidence, a Magistrate will decide if a final intervention order should be made.
Why Are the Police Involved?
If an Application for a Family Violence Intervention Order is made against you, the Court sends the application, and any orders made, to the police station closest to where you live. Police then serve on you (give to you and explain) the application and any orders.
The application and any orders are not valid unless police serve them on you personally. They must give them to you, face-to-face, and explain what they mean. The Police then file with the Court a ‘Certificate of Service’, which is proof they have served the application on you.
NOTE: Police involvement does not mean criminal charges are being laid against you.
If the police cannot find you to serve the application, they will file with the Court a ‘Certificate of Inability to Serve’. This describes how the police have tried to serve the application on you, and why they have not been successful.
If police believe you are avoiding them, they can apply for a ‘Substituted Service Order’. This allows them to seek the Magistrate’s permission to serve the order in another way. This can include posting the order to you, leaving it in a letterbox, or giving the order to another person in contact with you. The application and any orders will then be deemed to have been served personally, and will therefore be valid.
NOTE: If you are present with the Applicant/affected family member when they make their application at Court, a Registrar can serve the application on you personally.
When Police Apply for an Intervention Order
Victoria Police operate under a Code of Practice for investigating family violence matters. This sets out their response to family violence and what action they must take. Police have the power to apply for an Intervention Order for an affected family member if they believe that person has been, will be, or is at risk of being subjected to family violence.
There are a number of different ways police can apply for an Intervention Order, including:
- Application and Summons – This is listed for a future hearing date. Police can apply for a Summons alone, meaning there is no order in place, or they can make an application for an Interim Intervention Order. This stays in place until the Court makes another order.
- Application and Warrant – Police apply for this if a serious incident has occurred and there is an immediate risk of – and high level of concern for – the safety of the affected family member. A warrant gives the police power to arrest the Respondent and place him/her on bail. That means the Respondent must attend Court to answer their bail. The bail conditions the Police impose will function like an Intervention Order.
- Family Violence Safety Notices (FVSN) – These notices function like an Intervention Order application. They can be issued on the spot and can last for up to five working days. Similar to an Intervention Order, an FVSN places certain restrictions on the Respondent. The FVSN then goes to Court where it is decided if it should be extended.
What to Think About
If you have received an application for a Family Violence Intervention Order, it is a serious matter that will affect you. An Intervention Order may prohibit you living in any house you share with the affected family member, and may affect your contact with your children.
The paperwork you received includes all details of the allegations made against you. It also includes the Court at which the Order will be heard, and at what date and time you are required to be at Court (your matter could be heard at any time during that day).
You should come to Court and participate in the hearing; it is your opportunity to answer the allegations that have been made against you. If you do not, the Magistrate can make a Final Intervention order against you. As mentioned, this may prohibit you living in any house you share with the affected family member, and may affect your ability to speak to or spend time with your children.
NOTE: Unless the police have bailed you to attend Court, you do not have to come. You are, however, strongly advised to do so.