Covid 19 has affected every area of our lives. A critical area for many has been accessing the courts – in particular – in relation to Intervention order matters.
For critical matters both in Family Violence intervention order matters and Personal Safety intervention order matters, the courts in Victoria have continued to operate. There are however some operational differences. The time frame and process of how these matters are heard has had to change to protect court users during these challenging times.
Making an Intervention Order Application
If you are the victim of family violence or someone committing prohibited behaviour against you – you are still able to make an application against them to protect yourself.
If a matter is urgent and you are in immediate risk you should phone 000. The police have the power to take out a personal safety notice on the spot against a person committing either family violence or prohibited behaviour. This is immediate protection for you and the police will manage the process. In some cases you do not even have to attend court – the police will phone you and discuss what kind of order you are seeking.
Otherwise you can lodge your own application. Most of the courts have online applications available. You can download the application from the Magistrates Court of Victoria website. The courts will then phone you with the next step. If you are unsure phone your local Magistrates court – they are most helpful.
If your application is urgent – you will be given the opportunity to go before a Magistrate and seek an interim order. This will protect you until your matter returns to court at a later date.
Defending an Intervention Order Application
If an application has been made against you – you have the right to oppose it. Sometimes an interim order is made against you, which means you have a temporary order against you until a court can make a final decision.
In these times this can be difficult as you may have to wait a number of months until the court can hear your matter and in the meantime you are living under the conditions of an order.
It is important to attend the first court date ( in police applications these are listed fairly quickly ) as often applications can be resolved between the parties and you get a chance to raise concerns over some of the conditions. For example conditions preventing you from going home or to work.
There is always the option by either party ( the applicant or the respondent) to make an urgent application to vary an order. Again this information is on the Magistrates court website.
In summary although courts are extremely restricted in how they operate during these difficult times – there are still options available for both Applicants and Respondents. There is plenty of information online and many lawyers like myself are available 24/7 to assist people with their concerns and questions.