Domestic and family violence can occur in any family regardless of ethnic or cultural background, religious beliefs, sexual preference, age, gender, or socioeconomic status. Males are more often the offender, but men can also be victims.
The Domestic and Family Violence Protection Act 2012 (the Act) aims to provide safety and protection for people in relevant relationships who are victims of domestic and family violence.
The Act defines relevant relationships as spousal relationships, intimate personal relationships, family relationships and informal care relationships.
Fact sheets are available if you would like more information about the Domestic and Family Violence Protection Act 2012.
Intimate personal relationships include couples where the two people are of the opposite or same gender, people who are engaged, in a de facto relationship or who are married. They include people who are separated or divorced, who have a child together, and include people who are living together or have previously lived together as a couple. People who are or were engaged to be married including a betrothal under cultural or religious tradition are also covered. It can include people who haven’t lived together in some circumstances, including people under the age of 18.
A court will consider each relationship on a case-by-case basis to see if an intimate personal relationship exists. To assist the court to decide if such a relationship exits, it may look at how long the couple have been together, how often the couple see each other or how dependent on or committed the couple are to each other.
Family relationships exist between two people who are related by either blood or marriage, including:
Children under the age of 18 cannot access protection in these categories of relationships. The Child Protection Act 1999 sets out the relevant law for the protection of children within families.
For some cultural groups, for example Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, a wider group of people may be considered as family and may be recognised under the Act.
Informal care relationships exist where one person is dependent on another person for help with essential daily tasks, such as dressing or grooming, meal preparation, grocery shopping or arranging medical care. This does not include help provided by a paid person but where the care is provided without payment. A person receiving a carer's payment from the government is not a paid carer and can be part of an informal care relationship.
The Act provides protection to those people experiencing domestic and family violence by allowing a Court to make a Domestic Violence Order (DVO). The DVO aims to prevent domestic and family violence occurring within a domestic relationship by restricting the behaviour of the person committing the abuse ('the respondent').
If you are experiencing domestic and family violence in a relationship covered under the Domestic and Family Violence Protection Act 2012, you can apply for a DVO.
The Act recognises that some people may not want to end their relationship: they just want the violence to stop. This means the person seeking protection and the person who committed the abuse can continue to have contact with each other and live together if that is what they both want.
Copies of the Domestic and Family Violence Protection Act 2012 can also be downloaded or ordered.
Confidential support and advice for women affected by domestic violence is available by phoning DVConnect Womensline on 1800 811 811 (24 hours, 7 days a week).
Help is available for men from DVConnect Mensline on 1800 600 636 (9am to midnight, 7 days a week) or Lifeline on 13 11 14 (24 hours).
Note: These numbers are not recorded on your phone bill.