Understanding how to access the legal system can be difficult. Here is an overview of what you can do, and who you can contact for advice.

This page offers some information about Family Violence Orders and other legal issues, but it’s important to remember you don’t have to manage this on your own.

To get legal advice from a legal service experienced in domestic and family violence, contact one of the services here.

A Family Violence Order (FVO) is an order made by the Court to prohibit someone from engaging in violence towards family members or intimate partners. Below is a brief overview of how to apply for an FVO. You can find detailed information, including factsheets and videos, on the ACT Magistrates Court website.External Link

Applying for an FVO can increase the risk of violence or abuse. Think about speaking with a service such as the Domestic Violence Crisis Service (DVCS) before you take action.

Applying for an FVO

  • Fill in the application form. You can get this in person at the ACT Magistrates Court, or download it from the website.External Link You can get help with your application at the ACT Magistrates Court from the  DVCSExternal Link or from Legal Aid ACT.
  • Hand the forms in at the ACT Magistrates Court in person. They will advise you on next steps.

You can read the answers to some frequently asked questions (FAQs) on the ACT Magistrates Court’s Family Violence Orders FAQ page.External Link

Any domestic or family violence order made in any State or Territory since 25 November 2017 is automatically recognised right across Australia, including in the ACT. If you have a Family Violence Order in another State or Territory and you want to know more about how it applies in the ACT, please get in touch with DVCS or ACT Policing.

Please note that orders are known by different names in different States and Territories. Below is a guide:

  • Australian Capital Territory: Family Violence Orders (FVO)
  • New South Wales: Apprehended Domestic Violence Orders (ADVO)
  • Northern Territory: Domestic Violence Orders (DVO)
  • Queensland: Domestic Violence Orders (DVO)
  • South Australia: Intervention Orders (formerly Restraining Orders)
  • Tasmania: Family Violence Orders (FVO)
  • Victoria: Family Violence Intervention Orders (FVIO)
  • Western Australia: Family Violence Restraining Orders (FVRO)

Read more about national recognition of Family Violence Orders.External Link

If a crime is committed in the ACT, then the person affected can contact Victim Support ACT for assistance. Depending on your circumstances and needs, the Victim Support team may be able to:

  • connect you with services that can support your physical and mental health
  • advocate to criminal justice agencies on your behalf, if you feel they are not responding properly to your rights as a victim
  • connect you with volunteers who are trained to support and guide you through court processes
  • help you prepare a Victim Impact Statement to communicate to the Judge or Magistrate how the crime has affected you and your loved ones.

Services provided by Victim Support ACT are free and confidential. You can find out more about the agency here.

The Charter of Rights for Victims of Crime makes it clear how you can expect to be treated by the different agencies that make up the criminal justice system in the ACT. This includes (but is not limited to):

  • respecting and protecting your safety and privacy
  • providing you with access to support services, such as the DVCS
  • providing you with access to other forms of assistance, such as an interpreter
  • ensuring you know how the justice system works and what you need to do to take part
  • ensuring that you can participate safely.

These expectations apply to agencies including ACT Policing, the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP), ACT Corrective Services, ACT Courts and Tribunals, the Sentence Administration Board, the Restorative Justice Unit (RJU) and Victim Support ACT (VSACT).

Victim Support ACT has produced a booklet that explains your rights in more detail. It also provides an overview of how the criminal justice system works in the ACT.

Read the Charter of Rights for Victims of Crime.External Link

If an agency or worker is worried about the safety or wellbeing of a child or young person, they may be required to make a report to Child and Youth Protection Services (CYPS). If you are concerned about this and want to know more, it is best to talk to the service you’re dealing with directly to ask any questions you may have.

Find out more about mandatory reporting in the ACT.

Page updated: 22 Dec 2022