Despite an increasing dialogue in Australia about domestic and family violence a number of victims often do not have the strength to speak up about what is going on behind closed doors. Others simply do not know about the services that are available to them to give them the help and support they need. There are a number of tools and support systems available to those who may be exposed to domestic and family violence and here are a few ideas to help you seek help if you are a victim of domestic violence or know someone that is.
Your local police are able to provide advice in relation to the steps you can take to protect yourself from domestic violence. In situations where the police deem it necessary to protect a victim from domestic violence, they may prepare and file an ‘Application for a Protection Order’ on the victim’s behalf.
Alternatively, they can recommend a victim file an Application for a Protection Order themselves, which a family law solicitor can assist with. In order to obtain a temporary protection order, it must be demonstrated that:
- a relevant relationship exists (e.g. spouse, mother/father, relatives, parent/child); and
- an act of domestic violence has occurred – it is important to note that domestic violence is not just physical abuse. It extends to emotional and psychological abuse, and threatening or coercive behaviour.
A temporary protection order is only in place for a specified period of time, up until a final protection order is put in place. In order to obtain a final protection order, the above factors must be satisfied, as well as that the protection order is ‘necessary or desirable’ to protect a victim from domestic violence. Final protection orders are ordinarily in place for 5 years.
There is an increasing number of domestic violence hotlines that victims can call to obtain advice and support in relation to their specific circumstances. For a complete list of the telephone hotlines available, see the White Ribbon website here: https://www.whiteribbon.org.au/find-help/domestic-violence-hotlines/.
- Phone Apps
Given the strong reliance on mobile phones that is emerging in modern society, phone applications have now been developed to provide people with advice and support in situations of domestic violence. For example, the ‘Penda’ app is a free application that contains information in relation to the law surrounding domestic violence and safety precautions that can be adopted for women who have experienced domestic violence. Additionally, the ‘Daisy’ app is an application that is designed to connect people who are experiencing domestic violence to support services in their local area. Please note, we only recommend downloading these applications if you have safe and secure access to your mobile phone.
- Domestic Violence Refuges/Shelters
The Department of Housing and Public Works have actively worked to address the growing issue of domestic violence in Queensland. The Department have implemented an initiative entitled the ‘Queensland Housing Strategy 2017-2020 Action Plan’ in order to improve housing conditions for women and children escaping domestic violence by constructing shelters for those who require urgent housing assistance. Placement in a refuge/shelter can be arranged by contacting DVConnect Womensline on 1800 811 811.
Safe Haven Community, our partner charity, also supports those in need of accommodation when at risk of domestic and family violence and you can find out more information here: https://safehavencommunity.com.au/
There are a large number of counseling services that can be contacted in order to seek support and guidance for those who are or have been affected by domestic violence. Some of these services provide 24/7 access to confidential information and counseling. For example, 1800RESPECT provide the option of chatting online in the event it is too difficult to speak over the phone. Their website also provides a directory of national services that people can utilise to find the service that is most appropriate for their specific circumstances. This directory can be found here: https://www.1800respect.org.au/services/.
If you are a victim of domestic violence, or know somebody who is experiencing domestic violence, please reach out and seek the support you need. Our trained Toowoomba family lawyers at Best Wilson Buckley Family Law are equipped with the knowledge and skills to assist with respect to domestic violence. Do not hesitate to contact one of our offices to see how we can help you and keep you safe.
Not sure if your situation is classified as ‘domestic and family violence’? You can find out more about the definitions and examples in this article: Common Questions, Queries and Concerns about Domestic Violence