A new type of restraining order in Western Australia was recently introduced to better protect family violence victims.

A Family Violence Restraining Order (FVRO) is designed to reduce the onus on the victim to provide specific evidence of intimidating or controlling behaviour.  The legislation has adopted a more modern definition of family violence which is a reference to violence, or a threat of violence, by a person towards a family member or

any other behaviour that coerces or controls the family member or causes the family member to be fearful.

Behaviours that could constitute family violence against a family member include —

  • (a)     an assault;
  • (b)     a sexual assault or other sexually abusive behaviour;
  • (c)     stalking or cyber‑stalking;
  • (d)     repeated derogatory remarks;
  • (e)     damaging or destroying property;
  • (f)     causing death or injury to an animal that is the property of the family member;
  • (g)     unreasonably denying the financial autonomy that the member would otherwise have had;
  • (h)     unreasonably withholding financial support needed to meet the reasonable living expenses of the family member, or a child of the member, at a time when the member is entirely or predominantly dependent on the person for financial support;
  • (i)     preventing the family member from making or keeping connections with the member’s family, friends or culture;
  • (j)     kidnapping, or depriving the liberty of, the family member, or any other person with whom the member has a family relationship;
  • (k)     distributing or publishing, or threatening to distribute or publish, intimate personal images of the family member;
  • (l)     causing any family member who is a child to be exposed to behaviour referred to in this section.

Examples of situations that may constitute a child being exposed to family violence or personal violence include the child —

  • (a)     overhearing threats of death or personal injury to a person; or
  • (b)     seeing or hearing an assault of a person; or
  • (c)     comforting or providing assistance to a person who has been assaulted; or
  • (d)     cleaning up a site after property damage; or
  • (e)     being present when police or ambulance officers attend an incident involving the violence.

Courts will be required to consider information from police and other agencies including the Department for Child Protection in assessing a person’s risk.

It would then apply conditions specifically tailored for family violence, such as mandatory counselling.

As Family violence starts usually with the partner controlling every aspect of a woman’s life, the banking, who they speak to and where they go, the definition of Family Violence is expanded to be able to intervene at that point before that control, coercion and intimidation escalates to violence.

If you are the subject of Family violence, you should immediately seek advice and act before the violence escalates.  We have 15 years of experience representing persons who are protected by the order and respondents who are served with applications.