In March 2021 The Family Law Amendment (Federal Family Violence Orders) Bill 2021 was introduced to the House of Representatives. The Bill intends to establish new Federal Family Violence Orders (FFVO) issued by the Federal Circuit and Family Court of Australia.
The FFVOs would operate in a similar way to the current State and Territory domestic violence orders and act as an intended way to prevent family violence by restricting a person’s behaviours, communications, and movements.
While we currently have the ability to incorporate family law injunctions (like “the respondent is restrained from attending the applicant’s home without written consent”), the Bill wishes to establish a criminally enforceable FFVO to offer stronger protections to families at risk of domestic violence.
WHAT DOES IT ALL MEAN?
It means that families before the Federal Circuit Court or Family Court will not be required to initiate a separate proceeding in the State courts for a criminally enforceable protection order. They can apply for that protection order (an FFVO) in the court where their family law matters are already being heard. The Federal Circuit and Family Court of Australia will also be able to make an FFVO on their own motion.
It is hoped that being able to apply for an FFVO during family law proceedings in the same Court will reduce the need to navigate over multiple courts and reduce therefore delays, confusion and prolonged exposure to or risks of violence.
Currently, all States and Territories have agreed in principle that the FFVOs will be recognised nationally and such national recognition means that local laws regarding enforcement and prosecution would apply. So if an FFVO is breached, parties will still be able to have the FFVO criminally enforced by the Police.
There is going to be a delay after the Bill receives Royal Assent so that the State legislation can be amended to allow for implementation or information sharing and other mechanisms to support the enforcement of the new FFVOs.
Mr Tehan’s secondary reading of The Bill concluded with this: “The bill demonstrates the government’s commitment to continuing to improve the capacity of the family law system to provide effective outcomes to vulnerable families. By allowing victims of family violence to obtain a criminally enforceable protection order, this bill sends a strong and clear message that family violence is unacceptable and that it is criminal behaviour.”
At the Collective Family Law Group, we offer a family law consultation free 45-minute initial consultation. Let our experienced Gold Coast domestic violence lawyer guide you through the legal process.
Article Written By: Dannielle Young (Senior Associate, Collective Family Law Group)