[Title screen] Government of Western Australia state crest - Department of Justice logo
Family violence restraining orders for applicants.
[Applicant] He went into another one of his rages this morning. Grabbed me by the arms when I tried to walk away. I just don't feel safe anymore.
[Friend] We'll get this sorted.
[Narrator] If you are a victim of family violence you can apply to the Magistrates Court of Western Australia for a family violence restraining order or FVRO.
[Magistrate] Based on the evidence before me, I will issue an interim family violence restraining order.
[Narrator] An FVRO is made to protect you from harm by a family member, former family member, or an intimate or former intimate partner.
Family violence comes in many forms: assault which includes pushing, punching, grabbing, kicking or choking, stalking and cyber stalking, repeated insults or put downs, damaging property.
Killing or injuring a family pet, controlling finances or being unreasonable about money, limiting contact with friends, family or culture.
Depriving someone of their freedom, or sharing or threatening to share intimate pictures or videos, or threats to do any of these things.
We understand that seeking a restraining order can be a challenging and emotional experience.
As the person seeking an FVRO you are called the applicant or person protected while the person you are seeking protection from is called the respondent or person bound.
In this video we'll give you information that will help you work through the process and understand how an FVRO works, including the protections that an FVRO delivers, and the limitations of those protections.
It is strongly recommended that you get legal advice so you are aware of all your options. You may be able to get free advice from Legal Aid WA or your local community legal centre.
You can also use a private lawyer.
The first step is to lodge an application for an FVRO which can be done in one of two ways.
You can go to any Magistrates Court in Western Australia and complete and lodge an application at the court registry.
Or Legal Aid, community legal centres and some private lawyers can help you complete your application and lodge it with the court online.
This means you can lodge your application without having to go to a court or even leaving your home.
FVRO conferences which we have explained in more detail in a separate video are used to help the applicant and respondent come to agreement on the need for an order and who and what it covers, without needing to be in the same room.
You do need to be aware that the application form gives you the option to opt out of the FVRO conference process.
Once your application has been lodged it will be reviewed by the court registry and a date and time will be set for an interim hearing before a magistrate.
This may happen on the same day you make your application so it's important that you are fully prepared to tell your story and are able to stay at the court without worrying about issues such as child care and parking.
It's a good idea to have prepared a summary or a list of dot points detailing what the respondent has done to make you need a family violence restraining order.
This could include what they did or threatened to do, when they did it, how often they did it, the worst things they have done to you, and the most recent things they have done to you.
If you have any evidence such as abusive or threatening text messages from them you can bring it with you to the court to show the magistrate at the interim hearing.
An interim hearing is held in a closed court and unless you have agreed otherwise the respondent will not be present.
In fact in most cases they will not know anything about your application or the FVRO until it is served on them by the police.
If your application is not granted the respondent will not be told about it.
A closed court means that members of the public are excluded although you are allowed to have a support person with you.
When you enter the courtroom you'll be directed into the witness box. The magistrate will ask your name and then ask you to take an oath or affirmation that you will tell the truth to the court.
You will then explain the reasons and recent incidents that have led you to seek a family violence restraining order against the respondent.
Coming to court can be a difficult experience and the magistrate will understand if you are feeling nervous.
You may find it helpful to take a sip of water or to refer to your notes while you gather your thoughts.
Everything is recorded in court and the other party may ask for a typed copy of the recording so remember not to say anything you would not want the respondent to know.
For example if you have concerns about the respondent knowing where you live or work you should not mention these locations in court.
Once the magistrate has heard your evidence they will decide whether your situation meets the necessary requirements under the law to grant you an interim FVRO.
If granted, an interim FVRO will list the conditions that the respondent must adhere to about contact and interaction with you and anyone else named in the order.
[Magistrate] The respondent will not be permitted to come within 20 metres of you or your property.
[Narrator] The conditions will be based on what you have told the magistrate and any other evidence presented at the hearing.
These conditions aim to protect you and any other person named in the order from the respondents behaviours that put you at risk of family violence.
[Magistrate] The respondent will not be allowed to make direct contact with you or your daughter [fades out].
[Narrator] This will often mean that they cannot contact you at all, not in person, not by phone, not by text and not through friends or family.
And you should not contact them. If you do and they respond they could be charged for breaching the order.
Sometimes the order may allow restricted contact.
For example you may be able to exchange text messages about picking up and dropping off your children and depending on the information you have provided to the court other conditions could restrict the respondent from going to certain places.
[Magistrate] Mr Brodie will not be permitted to enter Ms Porter's place of employment.
[Narrator] Once the interim order has been made it will be sent to the WA Police Force for service on the respondent.
Service means that the police will find the respondent, check their identity and then give them a copy of the order.
The order becomes active as soon as it is handed to them and they must adhere to it from this point.
Breaching any of the conditions set out in an order is a serious criminal offence which could result in the respondent facing a fine of up to $10,000 and two years imprisonment.
Before an FVRO becomes final, there are four options available to the respondent. They may choose to do nothing or agree to accept the interim order's conditions.
In both cases the interim order will automatically be made a final order 21 days after the respondent was served.
This means that you will not need to return to the court and the conditions as stated in the interim order will remain in force for the time set by the magistrate, which is usually two years.
However the respondent can object to the FVRO becoming final and agree to participate in an FVRO conference.
In an FVRO conference there is no face-to-face contact between the applicant and the respondent.
You both sit in separate rooms and a registrar moves between you both and tries to help you to reach agreement.
If agreement can be reached and the registrar is satisfied with the outcome the order will be amended to reflect any agreed changes without the need for another court hearing.
Where agreement can't be reached the registrar will refer the matter back to the court for a hearing before a magistrate.
Alternatively if the respondent objects to the interim FVRO becoming final and is not prepared to participate in an FVRO conference the court will set a date for the FVRO to be heard by a magistrate who will listen to the evidence and decide whether or not to make the order final.
This is called a final order hearing. At this hearing you will be asked to take the oath or affirmation and then tell your story to the court.
The respondent will then be able to address some questions to the magistrate who will then ask you the questions.
Your witnesses will then be asked to give their evidence to support the orders.
The respondent or their lawyer will then be able to cross-examine or question your witnesses.
Following this, the respondent will be able to give their own evidence and call their own witnesses to give evidence that might help support their objections to the orders.
You or your lawyer will then be able to cross-examine the respondent and any witnesses they call to give evidence.
Next, both you and the respondent will be asked to summarise your cases.
Based on what you have both said and the other evidence presented, the magistrate will then either make a final FVRO which states what the respondent can and cannot do for the duration of the order.
If there is not enough evidence for an FVRO the magistrate may refuse to make a final FVRO and will cancel the interim FVRO.
It's important to remember that the interim FVRO remains in force until the FVRO is made final or cancelled and the respondent must follow all of the conditions of the order even if they object to them.
And when the order is made final the respondent will need to follow the conditions until it expires.
While the order itself is not a criminal offence and will not appear on the respondent's criminal record, breaching the conditions of an FVRO is a serious criminal offence.
Of course if you have immediate concerns for your safety you should call 000 for police assistance.
While the FVRO process can undoubtedly be a very stressful experience seeking, legal help and appropriate social support will help you to have a safe and successful outcome.
[Last screen] Government of Western Australia state crest - Department of Justice logo
For more information, including courthouse contact details and a list of support services that can help you through the FVRO process, visit: www.magistratescourt.wa.gov.au.