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In Australia, Intervention Orders (formerly known as Restraining Orders) are mainly intended to protect people from family violence. They may also be applied for to protect a person who is being stalked, whether it is by a family member or not.

'Family violence' includes physical violence, threats, abuse and emotional and psychological intimidation. There are many domestic violence support services in Australia. Some organisations will help victims deal with the Police and go to court. They can also refer people to free legal services. The Women's Domestic Crisis Service and the Domestic Violence and Incest Resource Centre are two such services.

An Intervention order is a court order made by a magistrate under the Crimes (Family Violence) Act 1987. It's purpose is to protect the victim from a member of their family or household, or someone they have had a close relationship with. The Order can be made without the other person (the defendant) being in court, however, it only has legal force once the defendant has been given (served with) the order. A magistrate can make an Intervention Order against the other person if they have harassed or molested the victim or behaved in an offensive manner, or they have assaulted or threatened to assault the victim, or they have damaged or threatened to damage the victim's property, AND they are likely to do it again. The Intervention Order is a way of protecting someone from the other person's behaviour in the future. Regardless of what the person has done in the past, the magistrate will only make the order if there is reason to believe the behaviour will continue. An order may be granted even if there's been no physical violence.

A temporary (interim) order can be made, which will cover the two to three weeks that it will take for the defendant to be summoned to the court hearing. The final order will be for whatever length of time the magistrate thinks suitable, e.g. three months, one year, three years. If the order is still needed at the end of that time, another order can be applied for about a month before the order finishes.

Applying for an Intervention Order in Australia is a civil procedure, not a criminal one. This means that it is regarded as a personal dispute. Even if the Police are involved, an application for an order doesn't mean that the other person is being charged with a criminal offence (although the Police can do that as well). The defendant therefore does not get a criminal record just because the magistrate decides to make an Intervention Order. If the defendant breaks the order, however, this IS a criminal offence.

An Intervention Order can be applied for against a family member or a person who is stalking someone. 'Family member' includes a spouse (married or de facto), ex-spouse, parents, children and relatives. It also includes any person with whom the victim has had an intimate personal relationship (e.g. boyfriend or girlfriend - including same-sex partner), your guardian (if victim is under 17 years old), or a person who has ordinarily been a member of the household. The term 'relatives' includes people who are the victims relatives through past and present marriages and de facto relationships, as well as blood relations.

An intervention order may contain a number of seperate conditions. Each of these restricts the behaviour of the other person in some specific way. These conditions can include:

  • Behaviour towards the victim - the order can say that the defendant is prohibited from asaulting, harassing, molesting, threatening or intimidating the complainant.
  • Having no contact with the victim - the order can say that the defendant is prohibited from approaching, telephoning or contacting the colplainant.
  • Staying away from the victim's home or work - the order can say that the defendant is prohibited from being at or within a certain distance of the premises situated at....or any other premises where the complainant lives or works.
  • Staying away from a specified place - there may be a place where the complainant goes regularly which the other person can be prohibited from going to, e.g. a house or school.
  • Protecting the complainant's property - the order can say that the defendant is prohibited from damaging the victim's property or jointly owned property.
  • Other people harassing the complainant - the order can say that the defendant is prohibited from causing another person to engage in conduct prohibited by the order.

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