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The Law and You: Domestic Violence

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Not a week goes by without a story of a murder of Australians at the hands of a violent or former partner.

Sixty-three women have been murdered in Australia so far in 2015 as a result of domestic violence. One in six Australian women will experience violence from a partner or former partner at some stage. The statistics are shocking. There’s no denying it.

And while statistics show that the vast majority of perpetrators are men, a lower percentage of perpetrators are women who are violent towards their male partners.

In September, Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull announced a $100 million package, including new resources and facilities, to try to change this. The package will help people, including children, experiencing family violence. Jointly funded with the state and territory governments, it will hopefully go a long way to reducing these alarming statistics and stopping such violent murders.

In the meantime, what do you do if you’re a victim of domestic violence? Choosing action when you’re feeling bullied, harassed and vulnerable is not easy so it’s important to get expert advice quickly.

Exactly what is domestic violence?

Domestic violence includes threats or acts of sexual assault, physical or personal injury, property damage, harassing or offensive behaviour, stalking, indecent acts and/or trespass, and even violence directed towards a pet.

When do I get a protection order against my violent partner?

Regardless of your gender or sexuality, you deserve respect. If you’re in immediate fear for your safety, dial 000 and speak to the police. It’s important to do this as soon as possible after the harassment or incident occurs.

If threatened it’s important to remove yourself from the situation as soon as possible and seek help and advice. You can obtain a Domestic Violence Protection Order (DVPO) from the ACT Magistrates Court by acting for yourself, or you can engage a lawyer to do it for you. Children can be included in the DVPO.

How do I get a DVPO?

There is no requirement to report an incident to the police before you seek a DVPO. You can apply for one yourself at the ACT Magistrates Court (staff will give you the paperwork) or you can engage a lawyer to do it for you. You should also call the Domestic Violence Crisis Service (DVCS) on 6280 0900.

I don’t feel safe in my home but have nowhere to go. How do I find safe housing?

The police can immediately provide you with assistance and advice. You can also call the DVCS, or a women’s refuge such as Beryl Women Inc or Toora Women Inc, that can provide short-term crisis accommodation. Men who are the subject of domestic violence can call the DVCS or Menslink.

How do I access money?

Centrelink can offer advice and in some cases one-off crisis assistance. The DVCS and women’s refuges can provide further help and advice.


If it’s possible, call the police as soon as possible after an incident. Otherwise, write down what happened, even if only in brief note form. This could be useful in any court proceedings later on.

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