Social services organisations in Australia are predicting an increase in family violence amidst the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, with the impact of job loss, financial stress and social isolation putting enormous strain on many.

Family violence has always been a critical issue, but may become even more challenging in circumstances where directions are given to self-isolate.  Some of the usual ‘safe havens’ such as schools, work or local shopping centres no longer available for victims or potential victims of violence.

The Family Law Act 1975 (Cth) contains provisions aimed specifically at protecting children and family members from violence and abuse. The states and territories also have laws dealing with actual and threatened violence to help protect victims.

If you, your children, or somebody you know are in danger, please contact your local police immediately.

What is family violence?

Family violence is actual or threatened conduct by a family member towards another family member that causes a person to be fearful or anxious about his or her safety or wellbeing. A child is exposed to family violence if he or she hears, experiences or is exposed to the effects of family violence.

Specific incidents of violence include:

  • actual or threatened assault or sexual assault;
  • stalking;
  •  derogatory and intimidating remarks;
  • intentional damage or destruction of property and intentionally hurting or killing of an animal;
  • unreasonable suppression of financial resources or support; and
  • preventing or depriving a family member of his or her cultural connections or freedom.

What can you do?

Police orders

Police orders are intended to provide immediate protection from an alleged perpetrator while imposing the least possible restriction on the perpetrator’s rights and freedoms. A Police Order remains in force for a maximum of 72 hours.

In lieu of issuing a Police Order, a police officer can apply to the Court for a Telephone Restraining Order to provide immediate protection to a victim if the urgency of the circumstances require it. A Telephone Restraining Order generally requires the alleged perpetrator to attend Court, usually within 72 hours, when the Court will consider granting a Violence Restraining Order. In most cases a Violence Restraining Order will remain in place for two years once made final.

The Police may also assist in finding a refuge or alternative accommodation and refer victims to counselling and other services.

What orders can the Court impose?

A Family Violence Order is the generic term used by the Family or Federal Court for an order made under a specific law to protect a person from family violence. The Court may impose whatever limitations or prohibitions on the defendant’s behaviour considered necessary to protect the other party and his or her children. The order may restrain the defendant from assaulting, harassing, threatening, stalking or intimidating the other person and from accessing or attending his or her residence and place of work.

We’re here to help

If you are in immediate danger or fear for your own, or your children’s safety, we urge you to seek urgent assistance through your local police.

We can help with the processes of obtaining a Family Violence Order and can recommend services to assist during these challenging times.

The Australian Government has announced its intention to inject a further $1.1 billion towards mental health, domestic violence, Medicare and emergency food services with the implementation of universal Telehealth services (to include consultations with GPs and health professionals) and $150 million towards family violence counselling services.

This is a difficult and distressing time for many. Our firm infrastructure facilitates remote working conditions and we will continue providing advice and assistance through telephone and video conferencing across all areas of family law.

If you or someone you know wants more information or needs help or advice, please contact us on 08 9221 5775 or email