Family Violence and Covid-19

Sadly, family violence often increases after emergency and natural disasters. Based on these experiences, we can anticipate that incidences of family violence will also increase during the outbreak of Covid-19. This is due to isolation, stress, financial insecurity, housing insecurity and periods of quarantine together. However, family violence is never ok, no matter the circumstances or the situation.

 

Some example of family violence include behaviour by a person towards a family member of that person that is:

  • Physically or sexually abusive; or
  • Emotionally or psychologically abusive; or
  • Economically abusive; or
  • Threatening; or
  • Coercive; or
  • In any other way controls or dominates the family member and causes that family member to feel fear for the safety or wellbeing of that family member or another person.

 

Family violence also includes behaviour by a person that causes a child to hear or witness, or otherwise be exposed to the effects of the behaviour referred to above. For example, if a child helps a family member who has been subject to family violence, is present while family violence is occurring, sees damaged property in the home (even after the incident has occurred), or overhears anything.

 

If you, a child or another person are in immediate danger at any time, call the police on 000.

 

If you are not in immediate danger – contact our office for advice regarding obtaining a Family Violence Intervention Order.

 

What is the police response to family violence during the Covid-19 pandemic?

 

Victoria Police have indicated that their family violence response will not change as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.  They will continue to respond to family violence reports using a risk management approach.  Police have access to personal protective equipment and have been provided with information on how to respond to someone who has or may have the COVID-19 virus.

 

What is the court response to family violence during the Covid-19 pandemic?

 

The important message is that all Magistrates’ Court venues remain open. The Magistrates Court of Victoria are committed to serving the community as we face Covid-19.

 

To reduce the number of people in the building a range of non-urgent matters have been adjourned. These are temporary measures and the court is still available for urgent matters, particularly in relation to the safety of family members and children.

 

Due to Covid-19, new listing time frames apply for Family Violence Intervention Order applications. The information below is from the Magistrates’ Court of Victoria Practice Direction, No. 2 of 2020, which took effect at 9am on 24 March 2020.

 

The new listing time frames which apply for Family Violence Intervention Order applications (including new applications, and applications for variation, extension and revocation) are as follows:

 

  1. First listing dates for urgent applications, particularly in high risk circumstances, will be listed on a case by case basis. Direct contact should be made with the court to request the listing of an urgent application.
  2. Otherwise, first listing dates for intervention order applications initiated by:
    1. Family Violence Safety Notice – not later than 14 days after service on the respondent
    2. Victoria Police applications will be allocated through the use of the electronic mention diary
    3. Non-Victoria Police Family Violence application will be allocated by a Court registrar.
  3.  Unless otherwise ordered by the court, and subject to paragraph d, second and subsequent listings will be adjourned to the nominal date of 15 June 2020. No appearance is required for this purpose (you do not need to go to court).
  4. Application for an extension of a family violence intervention order, where an ex-parte interim extension order has been made, will be listed not later than 28 days after the interim extension order has been made where the respondent has not been served.

 

It is intended that, prior to 15 June 2020, the Court will advise parties of a new hearing date. It is NOT expected that parties will be required to attend on 15 June 2020.

 

If you would like some guidance in relation to anything raised here, please contact us to speak to one of our lawyers.

 

Does covid-19 change my intervention order?

 

The conditions of intervention orders are not altered by Covid-19.

Intervention orders must be complied with.

 

My case has been adjourned – what does that mean for my current intervention order?

 

If you have an interim intervention order – this will remain in place until your next court date (unless there is a different date specified on the order that it will end on, which is unlikely).

 

If you have a final intervention order – it will remain in place until the expiry date on the order.

 

If you need clarification on your intervention order (whether you are the applicant, respondent, AFM or protected person), we invite you to contact our office.