A comprehensive guide to domestic violence orders (DVOs)

Over the past decade, domestic violence has been recognised as a major public health problem in Australia, with 17% of women, and 6% of men having experienced physical or sexual violence from a current or previous partner from the age of 15

By Charlotte Monaghan, Practice Leader at Australian Family Lawyers, Sunshine Coast.

Lockdowns and restrictions imposed by COVID-19, together with the unemployment and financial stressors associated with the pandemic have resulted in the number of applications for domestic violence orders across Australia increasing exponentially over the past 12 months.

Domestic violence is described as harmful or violent behaviour by a family member or someone who has a close personal relationship with you. It can include physical, sexual, emotional, social, verbal and financial abuse and is typically characterised by one person exerting power or control over the other.

What is a DVO (domestic violence order)?

Signing and applying for a domestic violence order

In Queensland, a domestic violence order, also known as a DVO, is an order issued by the court to prevent acts of domestic violence. In New South Wales the equivalent of a DVO is an Apprehended Violence Order (AVO) and in Victoria, an Intervention Order (IVO). DVO’s are also commonly referred to as ‘Protection Orders’.

DVO’s set out the rules and requirements that the “respondent” (the person committing the domestic violence) must follow. A DVO is designed to protect victims of domestic violence by limiting the behaviour of the abuser and in certain circumstances, their ability to communicate with or come into contact with the victim.

In Queensland, anyone who is in a ‘relevant relationship’ and who has experienced domestic violence as defined by the Domestic and Family Violence Protection Act may apply for a DVO. The definition of a relevant relationship includes:

  • an intimate personal relationship
  • a family relationship
  • a couple relationship

Applying for a domestic violence order

An application for DVO in Queensland can be made by:

  • the police
  • the aggrieved (victim)
  • an authorised person for an aggrieved (victim)

An authorised person for the aggrieved means an adult who is authorised in writing by the aggrieved to make the DVO application on their behalf or an adult whom the Court believes is authorised by the aggrieved to make the application. For example, if the aggrieved has a disability that prevents them from signing an authority, an authorised person may make the application on their behalf.

If you are in immediate danger due to domestic violence, you should phone 000. A police officer will then determine whether it is necessary for a DVO application to be made on your behalf. If you are not in immediate danger but are experiencing domestic violence, you can apply for a domestic violence order without the assistance of the police.

Below is a guide to applying for a DVO in Queensland:

Step 1:

To apply for a domestic violence order, you may either:

  1. Complete the online DV01 form here; or
  2. Complete the interactive DV01 form (in PDF format) here;
  3. Print the above PDF and complete it by hand; or
  4. Go to the nearest Magistrates Court and complete the form there.

Answer all questions on the form and add as many details as possible, including what domestic violence occurred, and when and where it occurred. If there is insufficient space on the form, you may write or type additional information on a sheet of paper and attach it to the end of the form.

It is important that you provide specific examples of when domestic violence has occurred, including if possible the date and time. The more specific you can be about the alleged acts of domestic violence, the more likely it is that you will be granted a temporary protection order. You should also include as much supporting evidence as possible in your application, for example, text messages from the respondent which are threatening or abusive in nature.

Step 2:

Once the DVO application form is completed, sign the statutory declaration on the last page of the form in front of Justice of the Peace (JP) or Commissioner for Declarations (CDec).

Step 3:

Once signed and witnessed, file the application at the Magistrates Court in person or by post to your local Magistrate.

When the application is submitted to the Court, the DVO application will be listed for a Court date, usually referred to as the first ‘Mention’. Prior to this date, the police will provide the respondent with a copy of the DVO application.

If both parties attend the Mention and agree to the DVO application conditions, the Court can make a DVO by consent without admission. This means that the respondent agrees to have an order in place but does not admit to or agree to the domestic violence which is alleged to have taken place. The order made by consent without admission still has the same effect as an order made by the Court and criminal charges can apply if the respondent breaches the order.

If the respondent does not agree to a DVO, the Court can grant a temporary protection order and list the matter for a final hearing. The Court can order that the temporary order remains in place until the final hearing date. At the final hearing, each party can present evidence in support of their case, and the Judge will then decide whether to grant a final DVO.

Frequently asked questions

What if children are involved?

Children can be listed as protected persons on a DVO. This means that the same conditions that apply to the aggrieved, will also apply to the children. To list protected persons on the DVO, the Court must be satisfied that there has been ‘associated domestic violence’. This means behaviour that is physically, sexually, emotionally, economically, threatening or coercive or in any way controls or dominates the victim by a respondent towards:

  • A child of the aggrieved; or
  • A child who usually lives with an aggrieved.

Under the Domestic and Family Violence Protection Act, a child is ‘exposed’ to domestic violence if the child sees, hears or otherwise experiences the effects of domestic violence.

How much does a DVO cost?

There is no cost to apply for a DVO.

Will obtaining a DVO result in a criminal record for the respondent?

No, the domestic violence order itself will not result in a criminal record. Breaching a domestic violence order, however, is a criminal offence.

Can my partner be removed from my home as a result of a domestic violence order?

Yes. If the domestic violence order includes an “ouster order”, the respondent may be asked to vacate the premises where you currently reside. If you wish to seek an order that the respondent be removed from the home you share together, you must specify this in the DVO application and provide reasons as to why it is necessary for an ouster order to be made.

Domestic violence can have long term impacts for both the victim, the children and their family members. If you are currently experiencing domestic violence, there are many avenues available for you to obtain the protection and support that you require to live your life free of violence and control.

If you require assistance with applying for a DVO, an AVO or an IVO, we recommend that you obtain legal advice prior to the matter being heard in court. Please contact Australian Family Lawyers to speak with one of our experienced lawyers about your rights and obligations with respect to domestic violence orders. 

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