DV Vic’s response to proposal for on-the-spot intervention orders

DV Vic is concerned by the Victorian Opposition’s plan to give police powers to issue intervention orders on the spot which could lead to women ending up with orders that don’t work for them.

When women call police for help, it is often after a violent and traumatic incident. Asking women for their input into the conditions of an intervention order at that time, including the conditions for contact with their children, is unfair and can significantly add to their distress.

The Royal Commission into Family Violence recommended waiting another three years before considering giving officers the power to issue intervention orders in the field. It said the quality and consistency of Victoria Police’s response to family violence would need to first improve significantly.

Over the past 15 years Victoria has seen a marked improvement in police responses to family violence. It’s great to see the Victoria Police Family Violence Centre of Learning have a focus on lifting the standard of practice across the state. Unfortunately, there is evidence that police practice is not yet consistent at all levels across the state.

There is also a risk that women will be misidentified as perpetrators of the violence. Research from Women’s Legal Service Victoria shows that women are repeatedly misidentified as perpetrators of the violence when they attend family violence incidents. They found that one in eight police applications for intervention orders were made against the wrong person. There are estimates that up to 375 women every month are being incorrectly identified as perpetrators on Family Violence Intervention Orders.

The court process is an important safeguard to ensure women are not wrongly identified as perpetrators in long-term orders. Having temporary orders made by police finalised in court allows for oversight that is critical for women’s and children’s safety and well-being.

The court process also ensures women applying for intervention orders have access to legal advice about the order and the conditions that are needed to keep them safe, such as whether children have been included.

The Royal Commission into Family Violence considered the issues about police issuing intervention orders and made recommendations in its road map of the system we need to build. To see the end of violence against women and children we need all sides of government to commit to long-term bipartisan support to implementing these recommendations.

For more information or comment from CEO Fiona McCormack please contact the Media Team  media@dvvic.org.au 0433 760 426