Family Violence Restraining Orders for Respondents Transcript

[Title screen] Government of Western Australia state crest - Department of Justice logo.

Family violence restraining orders for respondents.

[Magistrate] Based on the evidence before me I will issue an interim family violence restraining order.

[Narrator] Have you had a family violence restraining order made against you by the Magistrates Court of Western Australia?

[Respondent] Can I help you gentlemen?

[Police Officer] Hey, Glen Brodie?

[Respondent] Yeah?

[Police Officer] I'm Nick and this is Tom... [fades out]

[Narrator] A family violence restraining order, or FVRO, is made to protect the applicant, the person who has applied for the order from violence, threats, or abuse from a family member, former family member or an intimate or former intimate partner.

The person who has had an order made against them is the respondent.

The applicant can also be called the person protected, while the respondent is sometimes called the person bound.

[Respondent] Do you reckon I get a say or is it already all decided?

[Friend] What is it?

[Narrator] The process can be overwhelming and this video will help you understand how an FVRO works, explain your options as the person bound in responding to the order and give you information on how to get help to work through the process.

Initially the court will issue an interim FVRO which will set out conditions about your contact and interaction with the applicant.

[Magistrate] The respondent will not be permitted to come within 20 metres of you or your property.

[Narrator] The court will often also include children in the order if there is a risk that they might be exposed to family violence.

[Magistrate] The respondent will not be allowed to make direct contact with you or your daughter.

[Narrator] In most cases you will not know that a restraining order has been issued until it is actually served on you.

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.

The conditions of the FVRO will have been set by the magistrate hearing the application, based on the information the applicant has given to the court.

These conditions aim to protect the applicant and any other person who is named in the order.

This will often mean that you cannot contact them at all.

Not in person, not by phone, not by text and not via friends or family.

And even if they contact you, and you respond, you 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.

Depending on the information the applicant has given the court other conditions could prohibit you from going to certain places.

[Magistrate] Mr Brodie will not be permitted to enter Ms Porter's place of employment.

[Narrator] Or even restrict the time that you can spend with your children.

You need to be very aware that breaching any of the conditions set out in the order is a serious criminal offence and can result in a fine of up to $10,000 and two years' imprisonment.

While an interim FVRO comes into force as soon as it is served on you, before it becomes a final order you have four options so it's very important that you understand these options and make the best decision about what to do next.

It is strongly recommended that you get legal advice.

You may be eligible for free advice from Legal Aid WA, some community legal centres may also be able to provide assistance, or you can talk to a private lawyer.

If you choose to do nothing the interim order will automatically become a final order 21 days after it was served on you.

Or if you are prepared to accept the conditions set out in the interim order you can agree to the order becoming final.

To do this simply fill in the consent section on the back of the notice that you received and send it back to the court within 21 days.

By choosing either of these options you will not need to go to court, but it does mean that you are accepting all of the conditions stated in the interim order, and they will remain in force for the period set by the magistrate, which is usually for a period of two years.

However if you want to challenge any of the conditions in the FVRO you can object to the order by filling out the objection form and lodging it with the court.

And unless you or the applicant have opted out you will be invited by the court to attend an FVRO conference.

In an FVRO conference there's no face-to-face contact between the applicant and the respondent.

You sit in separate rooms and a registrar moves back and forth between you to narrow the issues in dispute.

The aim is to arrive at a set of conditions that you can both agree on.

[Registrar] Based on the agreements reached we can now issue final orders with the conditions you've both agreed to.

[Narrator] If agreement can be reached and the registrar is satisfied with the outcome the order will be amended to reflect the 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.

If you object to the interim FVRO becoming final and are not prepared to participate in an FVRO conference, the court will set a date for a final order hearing.

At this hearing both you and the applicant will appear before a magistrate who will listen to the evidence and decide whether or not to make the order final.

The applicant will be asked to take the oath or affirmation and then tell their story to the court.

[Applicant] When he thought I was talking to my friend about our problems he would threaten me and I was very scared.

[Narrator] If you have a lawyer they will be able to ask the applicant questions about the application.

If you don't have a lawyer you will address your questions to the magistrate who will ask them of the applicant.

[Respondent] Yes, what does she mean by quite a few times?

[Magistrate] Mr Andrews has asked me to ask you what you mean by quite a few times?

[Narrator] The applicant's witnesses will then be asked to present their evidence to support the orders.

Once the applicant and their witnesses have finished giving evidence you will be asked to take the oath or affirmation and provide your story to the court.

The applicant or their lawyer will ask you questions about anything that might be relevant to the application.

[Lawyer] Mr Andrews, did you ever threaten Mrs Andrews with violence for talking to her friends about your relationship?

[Narrator] Following this, you or your lawyer will be able to call your own witnesses to give evidence that might help support your objections to the orders.

This might be a close friend or family member.

The applicant or their lawyer will then be able to ask questions of your witnesses.

[Lawyer] Would it be true to say that these [fades out].

[Narrator] Next, both you and the applicant or your lawyers if you are represented will be asked to summarise your cases.

Based on what you have said, and the other evidence presented the magistrate will then either, make a final FVRO which states what you can and cannot do for the duration of the order.

Or if there is insufficient evidence to justify the order continuing the magistrate may refuse to make a final FVRO and will cancel the interim FVRO.

It is important to remember that the interim FVRO remains in force until it is made final or cancelled and you must follow all of the conditions of the order even if you object to them.

If the order is made final you'll need to follow the conditions until it expires; although you may apply to the court for the order to be varied or cancelled in certain circumstances.

As well as legal help you may be eligible for social support to assist you with any challenges in relation to your personal situation such as accommodation, drug and alcohol dependency and problems with your behaviour and emotions.

If you are served with an FVRO it's important that you deal with it calmly.

While the order itself is not a criminal offence and will not appear on your criminal record, breaching the conditions of an FVRO is a serious criminal offence.

By seeking legal assistance and appropriate social support you'll gain a better understanding of your obligations and be better prepared to deal with the order in a way that best suits your circumstances.

[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: