Family violence is against the law and the department is committed to addressing family violence in Victoria. The justice system plays a leading role in responding to incidents of family violence and are pivotal to ensuring women and children are safe and perpetrators are held to account.
Family violence can affect anyone in the community – regardless of gender, age, location, socio-economic and health status, culture, sexual identity, ability, ethnicity or religion. While it can be perpetrated by any member of a family against another, it is more likely to be perpetrated by men against women and children.
Family violence includes harmful or violent behaviour that is used to control, threaten, force or dominate a family member through fear. It includes:
- physical assault - hitting or pushing
- sexual abuse
- emotional or psychological abuse - humiliation, threats or insults
- financial abuse - taking away access to money for food and clothes
- damage to property
- threatening to harm other family members or pets
- stopping someone from seeing their family and friends.
Family violence can affect anyone in the community, it can happen:
- in a marriage, de-facto relationship or civil union
- in a gay or lesbian relationship
- to people with a disability who rely on their carer
- between parents, children and relatives
- between people in a 'family-like' relationship.
If a child hears, see or is around family violence in any way, they are also covered by the law. The law also protects a person from anyone who was a family member in the past.
Victorian Royal Commission into Family Violence
The Royal Commission into Family Violence report was tabled into Parliament on 30 March 2016. The report contains 227 recommendations, and is the culmination of a 13-month inquiry.
To read the Royal Commission's report, the Victorian Government's response to the report, and information about community consultations, visit Response to Royal Commission into Family Violence (external link)
Changes to information sharing about people involved in family violence
In response to recommendations made by the Victorian Royal Commission into Family Violence, the laws regarding how information about perpetrators, victims or third parties involved in family violence are changing.
The Family Violence Protection Amendment (Information Sharing) Act 2017 (Vic) and its supporting regulations permit a number of organisations to share current and historical family violence risk information with other listed organisations, when necessary to manage a risk of family violence. In some cases, sharing of information may be legally required under the Act.
The Victims of Crime Helpline, Victim Assistance Programs, Corrections Victoria and its service providers are now included under the Act and required to comply with the new laws.
The Act will take effect from 26 February 2018.
More information about the Family Violence Information Sharing Scheme, is available on the Family Safety Victoria website (external link)
National plan to reduce violence against women and their children
Commonwealth, state and territory governments are working together, with the community to implement the National Plan to Reduce Violence against Women and their Children 2010–22.
Released in 2011, the national plan is a 12-year strategy that aims to achieve a significant and sustained reduction in violence against women and their children.
On 27 June 2014, the government launched the Second Action Plan: Moving Ahead 2013–16 which comprises joint areas of work that all governments agree are critical to reducing violence against women and their children and improving women’s safety.
The Victorian Government signed up to the national plan in February 2011 which builds on and contributes to the work through Victoria’s Action Plan to Address Violence Against Women and Children 2012–15.
For more information visit the Australian Government - Department of Social Services (External link)
Application for an intervention order
A family violence intervention order also known as a "restraining" order, is a court order to protect a person (and children) from a family member who is using family violence.
If the police attend an incident during after hours and believe immediate protection is required, they can issue a family violence safety notice which tells the other person to stay away from the affected person. This operates as an application for an intervention order which will be dealt with by the court during business hours.
You can also apply for an intervention order at any Victorian Magistrates' court without police. Some residents can also apply for an intervention order online (external link)
A court may also make an interim order where an intervention order application has been made and the protected person needs immediate protection before the application can be determined by the court.
An application for an intervention order can be heard in the Children's Court (External link) when either the affected person or the respondent is a child (under the age of 18 years).
The Children's Court can also hear an application for an intervention order when both the affected person and the respondent are adults if there is a related child protection proceeding. All other applications are heard in the Magistrates' Court (External link)
Application for change in tenancy agreement
If you are a protected person in a family violence intervention order or family violence safety notice that has an exclusion clause, you can use the Application by a protected person online form (External link) to apply for Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal (VCAT) to make an order:
- terminating the existing tenancy agreement and requiring the landlord to enter into a new tenancy agreement in your name
- reducing the term of the fixed term tenancy agreement.
A protected person is entitled to have their VCAT fees waived. To arrange this, you must complete VCAT's Fee relief application form. View the Fee relief page on the VCAT website (external link)
For assistance from the Residential Tenancies List Support Worker, phone the VCAT Customer Service on 03 9628 9800 or 1800 133 055 (for regional callers).
Crisis care and assistance
- Safe Steps Family Violence Response Centre 1800 015 188 (External link)
- Sexual Assault Crisis Line
1800 806 292 (External link)
- Homelessness and emergency accommodations (External link)
- Your local police (External link)
- Report child abuse to local offices (after hours crisis line 13 12 78) (External link)
- Apply for an intervention order (External link)
- Victoria Police's Sexual Offences and Child Abuse Investigation Teams (External link)
Resources and support
- Victims of Crime Helpline 8am-11pm 1800 819 817 (External link)
- Domestic Violence Resource Centre Victoria (External link)
- The Lookout (External link)
- Men's Referral Service (External link)
- MensLine Australia 24 hours 7 days phone and online counselling (External link)
- Family Relationship Advice Line (external link)
- Women's Information and Referral Exchange (WIRE) (External link)
- 1800RESPECT (External link)
- Corrections Family Violence Information Sharing (External link)
- Victoria Legal Aid (External link)
- Women's Legal Service Victoria (External link)
- Community Legal Centres (External link)
- Financial assistance for victims of violent crime (External link)
Resources (English and other languages)
Print or order booklets
National campaigns to stop violence against women and their children