Intervention Orders are civil orders made by the Magistrates’ Court in order to protect one or more persons. Intervention Orders prohibit an individual from engaging in certain behaviours which may place another person at risk.
Introduction to Intervention Orders
There are two types of Intervention Orders in Victoria. One is a Personal Safety Intervention Order (PSIVO) and the other is a Family Violence Intervention Order (FVIVO). PSIVOs are used to protect a person from an individual who is not a family member, while FVIVOs are used to protect a person from an individual in the context of family violence.
The Applicant in an Intervention Order is the person who has applied to the court to take out an Intervention Order for their own protection. A member of the police may be the Applicant in an Intervention Order on behalf of someone at risk. This is common after a complaint has been made to the police after prohibited behaviour is alleged to have occurred.
The Respondent is the person who the Intervention Order is being made against.
The Affected Family Member (AFM) or Protected Person is the individual who is being protected by the Intervention Order. This may be one person, or multiple people (more common in Family Violence settings with children).
Breaching any kind of Intervention Order may result in criminal charges against you.
The Process of Intervention Orders
When an individual makes an application for an Intervention Order with the Court, the Respondent will be served with a bundle of documents, including a summons to appear in Court for an Intervention Order mention hearing. In this bundle, there will be a copy of the Applicant’s application, including the allegations made, as well as the conditions sought in the order. There may also be a copy of an Interim Intervention Order.
In Intervention Order proceedings, it is common that an Interim Intervention Order is put in place before the Respondent becomes aware of the matter. An Interim Intervention Order has the same effect as a Final Intervention Order (an Intervention Order which has been accepted or ordered by the Court) and is used to protect the AFM or Protected Person while waiting for the matter to conclude in Court.
An individual may also be given a Family Violence Safety Notice by a member of the police. This occurs when an alleged incident has occurred and has been reported to police. In a Family Violence Safety Notice, there will be an application for an Intervention Order, made by the police on behalf of the person at risk. It is quite common that the Respondent will be bailed to appear in Court, with the bail conditions being that of a full no contact Intervention Order, intended to operate similar to an Interim Intervention Order.
If you have been served with an Intervention Order Application or Family Violence Safety Notice, we recommend that you seek legal advice immediately, as your legal representative may be able to contact the Applicant, being the Protected Person, their legal representative or the police, to negotiate a suitable resolution.
Common Conditions of Intervention Orders
A Full Conditions Intervention Order will usually contain the following conditions, where the Respondent must not:
- Commit Family Violence (For FVIVOs);
- Commit prohibited behaviour towards the protected person (For PSIVOs)
- Stalk the protected person (For PSIVOs)
- Damage property of the Protected Person or threaten to do so;
- Follow the protected person or keep them under surveillance;
- Publish on the internet, by email or other electronic communication any material about the protected person;
- Contact or communicate with the protected person by any means;
- Approach or remain within 5 metres of a protected person;
- Go to or remain within 200 metres of where the protected person lives, works or attends school; and
- Get any other person to do anything the Respondent must not do under the order.
It is also common that exceptions are added to an Intervention Order. These exceptions are things that the Respondent is allowed to do, without being in breach of the Intervention Order, so long as the Respondent does not commit family violence while doing so.
The most common exceptions in Intervention Orders include:
- Doing anything that is permitted by a Family Law Act Order, a child protection order or a written agreement about child arrangements;
- Negotiating child arrangements by letter, email or text message;
- Communicating with a protected person through a lawyer or mediator;
- Arranging and/or participating in counselling or mediation; and
- Going to the home of a protected person, in the company of a police officer, to collect person property.
The conditions which are included in an Intervention Order are dependent on the circumstances of the relationship between the Respondent and the Applicant. In some circumstances, the Applicant may only want a limited order. A limited order may include the condition of not committing family violence and not destroying property but excludes the conditions restricting the Respondent from being within a certain distance of the Applicant. This is common where the Applicant intends on staying in a relationship with the Respondent.
Intervention Orders will also have an effect on firearms licence holders. See our article on how Intervention Order affect firearms licences here.
Going to Court for an Intervention Order Mention Hearing
The first hearing in Intervention Order proceedings is called a Mention. At this hearing, the Magistrate will read the Intervention Order Application and the Applicant will be afforded the opportunity to make submissions on what conditions they are seeking, as well as the length of the order.
From there, the Respondent has the following options:
- Propose amendments to the Intervention Order – for example the Respondent may accept an Intervention Order but only in the event that the condition restricting them from being within 200 metres of the Protected Person’s home is removed (if you have a legal representative, these proposed amendments can be negotiated before Court);
- Consent without admissions – this means that the Respondent consents to the order being put in place, but does not admit the allegations contained in the application;
- The Respondent may propose to enter into an Undertaking. An Undertaking will list identical conditions to an Intervention Order, however it is not an enforceable order. It is essentially a promise that the Respondent will not do any of the things listed in the Undertaking. If the Respondent breaches the Undertaking, they will not be charged with breaching the Undertaking, however the Applicant will then have the right to reinstate their Intervention Order application, and may be successful in obtaining a Final Intervention Order;
- Finally, the Respondent may choose to challenge the Intervention Order.
Challenging an Intervention Order
If the Respondent chooses to challenge an Intervention Order at the first Mention, the matter will then be adjourned to a Directions Hearing. The Magistrate will decided as to whether an Interim Intervention Order is put in place until the matter has concluded.
Directions Hearings are another procedural hearing and is not an opportunity to present any evidence in Court. If the Respondent is still intending on contesting the Intervention Order, then the matter will need to be adjourned to a Contested Hearing. Each party will need to inform the court if they will be calling any witnesses, what days they are available for a contested hearing, along with other practicalities.
At the Directions Hearing, the Magistrate may order the Applicant to prepare and file a document called Further and Better Particulars. This document details all the allegations made in the initial application, along with any evidence they will rely on. The Respondent will then be given the opportunity to file a response to this document.
The Contested Hearing is the final hearing in Intervention Order proceedings. This is when the Magistrate will hear evidence from the parties and from any witnesses. The Magistrate will first hear from the Applicant and then the Respondent.
After all the evidence has been heard by the Magistrate, a decision will be made, with the standard of proof being ‘on the balance of probabilities’. This standard of proof is different to criminal proceedings where it is beyond reasonable doubt.
If the Magistrate is satisfied that prohibited behaviour has occurred, on a balance of probabilities, and there is a likely risk for it to continue, a Final Intervention Order will be put in place.
After a Final Intervention Order has been made
Final Intervention Orders are usually put in place for a period of 12 months. However, the court has discretion and Intervention Orders can be put in place for a longer period of time.
If a Respondent breaches any condition of an Intervention Order, they may be charged with criminal offences. Depending on the severity of the breach, this could lead to a maximum of 2 years imprisonment.
While a Final Intervention Order is in place, either of the Applicant or Respondent may make an Application to Revoke or Vary the Intervention Order in situations where circumstances have changed. A successful Application to Revoke will remove the Order in its entirety, while and Application to Vary will make changes to the conditions of the order.
Once the Intervention Order has expired, the Respondent is no longer restricted. The Applicant may then choose to make an application to extend the Intervention Order if they feel as though they are still at risk.
Intervention Orders are complicated and can be confusing. The information contained in this article is the basics and each person’s situation will be different. We recommend contacting Nardi Lawyers for expert advice on your Intervention Order matter.