It takes courage to help yourself or someone else. Here is some advice and information on family violence for you.

Many people still believe that family or domestic violence is a private matter that occurs behind closed doors and is only identified by the presence of cuts and bruises. These myths contribute to the prevalence of family violence, blaming the victim and ultimately, the murders of women and children by their partner/ex-partner and father/step-fathers. Victoria, Australia and indeed, the World, has or is recognising that family violence is NOT a private issue and that family violence has a significant impact on our society – both socially and economically. More information on this is on the Crisis Advice page.

Myth: Violence affects few women in Australia.
Truth: High numbers of women experience violence in Australia. The Vic Health Report (2004) found that intimate partner violence is the biggest cause of injury or death for women in Victoria aged between 18 and 45 years.

Myth: Domestic and family violence happens only to poor, uneducated women and women from certain cultures.
Truth: People of any class, culture, religion, sexual orientation, marital status and age can be victims or perpetrators of domestic violence. Because women with money usually have more access to resources, poorer women tend to use community agencies, and are therefore more visible.

Myth: Some people deserve to be abused; they are responsible for the violence or they provoke it.
Truth: No one deserves to be abused. The only person responsible for the abuse is the abuser. Abusers tend to blame the victim for their behaviour, and friends and family often hear only their perspective.

Myth: If the victim didn’t like it, she would leave.
Truth: There are many reasons why a woman may not leave, including fear for herself, her children and even pets. Often women face significant practical barriers to separating from their partners, including a lack of money and housing options. Due to the effects of the abuse, many women lack confidence in their own abilities and accurate information about their options. Not leaving does not mean that the situation is okay or that the victim wants to be abused. The most dangerous time for a woman who is being abused is when she tries to leave.

Myths about the abuser

Myth: Most people who commit violence are under the effects of alcohol or drugs.
Truth: Although many abusive partners also abuse alcohol and/or drugs, and some are more likely to be physically violent or use more extreme violence when their judgement is impaired, this is not the underlying cause of the abuse. Many people who abuse alcohol or drugs are not violent and abusive.

Myth: Abusers are mentally ill, psychopathic or have a personality disorder.
Truth: Research does not support this view. Most men who use violence against family members demonstrate acceptable behaviour in other settings. Many are considered respectable members of the community, and other people are often reluctant to believe they could be abusive.

Myth: Stress and anger lead to violence.
Truth: Violent behaviour is a choice. Perpetrators use it to control and dominate their victims, and their actions are very deliberate. Usually perpetrators of domestic and family violence are never violent outside the home or in public, even when under stress.

Myths about the violence

Myth: Domestic violence is a personal problem between a husband and a wife.
Truth: Domestic violence affects everyone.

Myth: Domestic violence occurs only in a small number of heterosexual relationships.
Truth: Domestic violence can occur in any intimate or family relationship, including same-sex relationships, between older or adult children and parents, between siblings, and between people with disabilities and their carers. Approximately one in three women in Australia will experience domestic or family violence in their lifetime.

Myth: Violence is about anger and rage. The abuser is out of control.
Truth: Family violence nearly always happens in private, with no witnesses. Perpetrators do not generally abuse their workmates or bosses, regardless of the amount of stress they experience at work. Very often abusers hurt victims in parts of their bodies where the injuries won’t show.

Myth: Domestic violence is usually a one-off, isolated incident caused by anger or stress.
Truth: Domestic and family violence is a pattern of behaviour that includes the repeated use of a number of tactics designed to dominate and control a family member. These can include threats, intimidation, isolation, economic and financial control, and psychological and sexual abuse. Physical violence is only one of the tactics used to control another person.

Sources: The Health Cost of Violence: Measuring the Burden of Disease Caused by Intimate Partner Violence, VicHealth (2004). TheLookout website: Resources/FactSheet5.

Often a woman who lives with a partner who chooses to use violence, still loves him. This is difficult for other people to understand, however it’s true. Women will frequently say, “I want the relationship with him, I just want the violence to stop.” Isn’t this what anybody wants – a lovingly reciprocal relationship that they believe will get better over time? Yes! Tips to provide support and assistance to someone experiencing family violence:

  • LISTEN – this is the most powerful tool you can use. The victim/survivor of family violence often wants to be heard;
  • BELIEVE – the strength it takes for someone to disclose family violence is enormous. They may only have a very small window of opportunity to talk;
  • DON’T TELL THEM WHAT TO DO – doing so will only reinforce the control and abusive behaviours they are living with and will foster distrust in the relationship;
  • ASK: WHAT CAN I DO? – This leaves the victim/survivor in control of the conversation and situation;
  • Be mindful of your NON-VERBAL RESPONSES – raised eyebrows, frowns or looks of disgust may lead the victim/survivor to believe that you are making a judgement about them;
  • OFFER COMFORT – however make sure the victim/survivor leads this;
  • PROVIDE HELPFUL WORDS – reinstate what they have told you; check you have the details right; let them know you are willing to support them;
  • UNDERSTAND that she may want to remain in the relationship and that she may still love him – this is not your judgement to call;
  • ASK ABOUT THE CHILDREN – how are they coping? Is there anything you can do to support her to care for her children?
  • ENQUIRE – about a safety plan – does she have one for her and her children? There is information on this website to support this conversation.

How does family violence effect children and young people?

  • More than 1 million Australian children are affected by domestic violence
  • Children experience serious emotional, psychological, social, behavioural and developmental consequences as a result of experiencing violence. Infants and young children are especially at risk
  • Perpetrators often attack the mother-child relationship and use children in committing violence, such as threats to harm the children
  • Children continue to be at risk from the effects of violence during and after parents’ separation
  • Children experience significant risks in shared parenting arrangements when the arrangement involves substantial shared time with the violent parent
  • The evidence shows that false allegations of domestic violence and child abuse are rare. There is, however, evidence to suggest that perpetrators often deny or minimise their use of violence. All disclosures of violence should be taken seriously and investigated
  • Children and mothers can cope with and recover from the effects of violence. Services and programs should build on their resiliency and coping strategies
  • Organisations should increase collaboration across sectors, use standardised screening and risk assessment tools, train staff in domestic violence issues, and refer to or offer specialised services
  • Workers should support children in disclosing their experiences and ensure children’s voices are considered in parenting decisions
  • Specialised counselling and programs should be offered to children and mothers, with a particular emphasis on rebuilding the mother-child relationship

More information about Child Development and Trauma can be found here:

Human Rights Australia: Some of the human rights Australians are entitled to include your right to:

  • live with your family
  • a basic education
  • be treated equally by the law
  • think what you like and practice any religion
  • say what you like (without inciting hatred or violence)
  • an adequate standard of living, including adequate food, clothing and housing
  • access appropriate health care
  • maintain your culture and language
  • freedom of movement
  • privacy
  • freedom from discrimination

A guide to help young people have their say about Human Rights in Australia can be found here 

  We have local services you can contact to discuss your concerns about a child or young person. If you are unsure what to do with concerns that you hold for children and/or young people, you can contact Child FIRST in your local area and have a chat about it. When you make contact with the service (listed below), be careful not to provide names if you are unsure you want to make a referral or a report. Keep the information de-identified and the workers will be able to provide options for you to progress your concerns and support the children and/or young person you are concerned about.

Call 1800 705 211 if the child/young person you are concerned about lives in the following local government areas: Mansfield, Benalla, Wangaratta, Indigo, Alpine, Wodonga or Towong.

Call 1300 854 944 if the child/young person you are concerned about lives in the following local government areas: Murrindindi, Mitchell, Strathbogie, Greater Shepparton or Moira.

Brokerage options:
As a professional, you might be working with a child who needs financial support to attend a sporting club, school vacation, uniforms or piano lessons. Please visit the link below for a list of potential support available in our local areas: Goulburn Ovens Murray Areas brokerage options Feb 2016.pdf

  In Victoria, the Children Youth and Families Act 2005 section 182 (1) and 184 states that where the following mandated reporters form the belief on reasonable grounds that a child has suffered, or is likely to suffer, significant harm as a result of physical injury or sexual abuse and the child’s parents have not protected, or are unlikely to protect, the child from harm of that type must make a report to Child Protection Services as soon as practicable:

  1. Teachers
  2. Principals
  3. Doctors
  4. Nurses including midwives
  5. Police
  6. Other professions

More information can be found here:

What is the role of the Police? Police have three main functions in responding to family violence:

  1. Maximise the safety and support to those involved
  2. Identify and investigate incidents of family violence and prosecute persons accused of criminal offences arising from family violence
  3. Assist in the prevention and deterrence of family violence in the community by responding to family violence appropriately.

Victoria Police have to abide by a Code of Practice when they come across family violence and this code outlines their role from the moment a report is made through Court applications and Court appearances through processing breaches of Family Violence Intervention Orders. When Police attend an indecent of family violence, you can expect that they will speak to both the victim and alleged perpetrator to gain an understanding of the situation and also to speak to or at least site children in the home. Police have options for supporting the immediate and ongoing safety of a woman and her children; these are a Family Violence Safety Notice and a Family Violence Intervention Order. For more information on the Code of Practice, you can access the Victoria Police website here. What is a Family Violence Intervention Order and how to apply? The purpose of a family violence intervention order is to:

  • ensure the safety of the affected family member; or
  • preserve any property of the affected family member; or
  • protect a child who has been subjected to family violence committed by the respondent.

An intervention order restricts some behaviour of people, for example, what they can do, where they can go. An intervention order may prohibit or restrict a person (the respondent) from:

  • committing family violence against the protected person
  • behaving offensively towards the protected person
  • approaching (or going near) an protected person
  • attending at premises where an protected person lives, works or frequents
  • being at a particular location
  • following the protected person
  • contacting or communicating with the protected person
  • damaging property owned by the protected person
  • arranging for another person to do what the respondent is not allowed to do as stated in the order.

An intervention order may also:

  • direct the respondent to participate in prescribed counselling, or
  • suspend or cancel any firearms licence, permit or authority or weapons approval or exemption held by the respondent.

Who can apply for a family violence intervention order? An application for an intervention order may be made to the Court by:

  • a member of the police force
  • the affected family member
  • if the affected family member is an adult, any other person with the written consent of the affected family member
  • if the affected family member is a child –
    • a parent of the child
    • any other person with the written consent of a parent of the child or with permission from the Court
    • the affected family member with permission from the Court if they are of or above the age of 14 years
  • if the affected family member has a guardian
    • the guardian
    • any other person with permission from the Court.

An application for an intervention order can be made at any Magistrates’ Court location in Victoria.A Magistrate may make an interim family violence intervention order pursuant to section 53 of the Family Violence Protection Act 2008 if satisfied on a balance of probabilities that it is necessary pending a final decision about the application to:

    • When can a family violence intervention order be made?
    • Where can I apply for a family violence intervention order?
  • ensure the safety of the affected family member; or
  • preserve any property of the affected family member; or
  • protect a child who has been subjected to family violence committed by the respondent. A Magistrate may make a final family violence intervention order pursuant to section 74 of the Family Violence Protection Act 2008 if satisfied on the balance of probabilities that the respondent has committed family violence against the affected family member and is likely to do so again.Explanation of the family violence intervention order to the affected family member and respondent
  • If a Court makes an interim or final family violence intervention order, an written explanation of the order must be given to the affected family member and respondent which details the following:
  • The Court makes a decision about whether to grant an intervention order on the ‘balance of probabilities.’ This means the Court makes its decision on whose version of the story is most likely to have happened.
  • An interim family violence intervention order is a temporary order which is made to give the affected family member protection until the application for the intervention order can be listed before the Court (usually 2 weeks). This period also allows the Court to have the respondent served with the application – generally the police will give the respondent a copy of the application.
  • the purpose, terms and effect of the intervention order
  • the consequences and penalties that apply if the respondent does not obey or comply with the intervention order
  • how the intervention order may be varied, extended or revoked (cancelled)
  • relevant family violence services offering legal, emotional or practical support available. The Court may specify a period for which an intervention order is to last until or alternatively may make an order that will remain in force indefinitely.An application for a family violence intervention order is a civil matter between the parties, unlike a criminal matter which is between the State of Victoria and an individual. If a family violence intervention order is breached (that is, the conditions of an intervention order are not complied with), the respondent may be charged by the Police with a criminal offence for breaching the intervention order.
  • The penalties for breaching an intervention order may be:
  • Is a family violence intervention order a criminal matter?
  • Duration of a family violence intervention order
  • fine up to $24,000
  • imprisonment for up to 2 years
  • fine up to $24,000 and imprisonment for up to 2 years.A party to an intervention order proceeding may appeal to the County Court of Victoria against:
  • Can a family violence intervention order be appealed?
  • the making of an intervention order;
  • the conditions of an intervention order;
  • the refusal to make an intervention order; or
  • the refusal to impose certain conditions in an intervention order. Extending, varying or revoking an intervention order
  • The court may make an order to:
  • An appeal against an order of the President of the Children’s Court of Victoria must be made to the Supreme Court of Victoria. An appeal against a Magistrates’ order must be lodged at the Magistrates’ Court within 30 days of the order being made.
  • extend the duration of an intervention order (this application must be made before the original intervention order expires)
  • vary the conditions of an intervention order
  • revoke (cancel) an intervention order. If a respondent seeks to vary or revoke a family violence intervention order, they must first be given permission by the Court to lodge these types of applications. A Court would grant permission only if it is satisfied there has been a change in circumstances since the family violence intervention order was made and the change may justify a variation or revocation of the order.Corryong             0260 437000Wangaratta        0357 210900Cobram                                0358 722639Mansfield            0357 752672Seymour              0357 350100Click here for further information.Who’s who in the CourtroomDuty Lawyer (legal representative)There are lawyers employed by Legal Aid WA whose role it is to attend Magistrates Courts and Children’s Courts to advise and represent people who are facing criminal charges in those courts. These lawyers are known as “duty lawyers”. A duty lawyer can advise you on a range of issues and can also represent you in the Magistrates Court and Children’s Court in certain circumstances. The amount of help that a duty lawyer can give you will depend on the nature of the offence and whether the offence can be completely dealt with in the Magistrates Court or whether it must go to the District or Supreme Court or before the President of the Children’s Court to be dealt with.
  • Barrister (legal representative) A legal advocate who is briefed by a solicitor to present the defence or prosecution case in court.
  • Defence Solicitor or Duty Solicitor (legal representative) The person who represents the accused in court. If the accused does not have a solicitor, they may be entitled to representation by a duty solicitor.
  • Informant In criminal cases, this is the police officer who charged the defendant. In coronial inquests, this is the police officer who investigated on behalf of the coroner. In some cases, the informant is a council officer or other government official.
  • Prosecutor (legal representative) The person who appears in court to present the case against the defendant in a criminal hearing. Cases in the Magistrates’ Court and Children’s Court are usually prosecuted by a police officer. Cases in the higher courts are usually prosecuted by the Office of Public Prosecutions.
  • Magistrate The person who hears cases and makes decisions in the Magistrates’ Court and Children’s Court. They decide what happens to a case, whether a case will have to go to another court or be put off until another day, whether the defendant is guilty or not guilty, and any penalty that will be given to the defendant. Some coroners are also magistrates.What is the role of the Court Network?
  • Court Network is a unique court support service operating throughout Victoria and Queensland.  We are the only court based service explicitly and solely concerned with the needs of court users.  Information, support and referral services are provided by over 400 trained volunteers supporting:

How can a duty lawyer help me? What is a duty lawyer?     Shepparton        0358 212374 Benalla                 0357 611400 Myrtleford          0357 521868 Wodonga            0260 437000 For more information, please contact your nearest Magistrates Court: An application to extend, vary or revoke an intervention order may be made by any party to a family violence intervention order proceeding. All parties to the original application must be served with a copy of the application (including Victoria Police if the original application was made by a police officer).

  • Victims of crime
  • People accused of crime
  • Families, adults and children who attend court and require support
  • Adults and children who have been violated or exploited by crime
  • Litigants who have little or no support

For more information, phone 1800 681614 (toll free)

Objectives The Court is committed to providing access to justice to the people of Australia. The Court’s expansive regional circuit network is demonstrative of this commitment. Judges regularly travel to various regional locations to hear matters, alleviating the burden on regional litigants (and their legal representatives) to travel to major cities to have their matters dealt with. The Federal Circuit Court is the only federal court that regularly conducts regional circuits. The Court’s commitment to the provision of access to justice for all Australians is further illustrated by its ability to conduct special sittings in most regions of Australia on demand. Even though you are separating, both parents are the most important people in your child/ren’s lives. The best arrangements for the future are those where: Children and Separation

  • The Court was established to provide a simple and accessible alternative to litigation in the Federal Court of Australia (Federal Court) and the Family Court of Australia (Family Court) and to relieve the workload of those courts. The FCC Act directs the Court to operate informally and to use streamlined procedures. This complements the Parliament’s initiatives to encourage people to engage in a range of dispute resolution processes.
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  • The children continue to have a loving and meaningful relationship with both their parents and other family members
  • both parents continue to share responsibility for their child/ren
  • the children live in a safe environment, with no violence or abuse.
  • Family Violence
Do I have to tell the courts about family violence?
  • Yes. You must tell the courts of any relevant family violence orders  and file a copy of any family violence orders as they may affect the court orders, particularly orders about a child spending time with a parent or other person. The courts must make sure that orders do not expose people to family violence.
  • If you do not tell a court about a family violence order, it may unknowingly make a parenting order that may put the person who has been granted the family violence order or children named on it at risk of violence.
  • When a court knows about a family violence order, it can make parenting orders that take the order into account. For example, it can arrange for an independent person to be present during hand-over times or order that the time the child spends with a parent or other person takes place at a children’s contact centre.
Can I bring a support person or friend to a conference or other court appointment?
  • If you are not legally represented, you may have a friend or support person attend a court conference or other court appointment with you. The extent of a support person’s involvement in the conference/appointment will be at the discretion of the registrar or family consultant conducting the conference/appointment.
  • If you have a friend or support person with you, they may sit at the back of the courtroom. Children and young people under 18 are not permitted in the courtroom.
  • During a hearing, parties who are not legally represented may be allowed to have a support person sit with them. The extent of the support person’s involvement in the hearing will be at the discretion of the judicial officer.

For more information, you can access the Federal Court website here or make contact with your local Community Legal Centre.

Hume Riverina Community Legal Centre – 1800 918377

Goulburn Valley Community Legal Centre – 0358 310900

Although the majority of Australians experiencing homelessness are male, the major reason for women and children experiencing homelessness is family violence.   There are different types of homelessness that people experience:

  • Sleeping rough – on the streets, under bridges, occasional one-night hostel accommodation
  • Dossing – staying on the couch at a friend/acquaintance house for a limited time
  • Frequenting housing services and obtaining immediate and short term accommodation in hotels, caravan parks, refuges

All of these forms of homelessness have a significant impact on people and can be the reason that women and children will remain with a partner or family member who perpetrates family violence.   If you or someone you know has left the family home to flee a violent partner and is isolated with no family and no friends to support you, help is available.

There are services available to assist people who are homeless. In our local area, you can contact the following:

Safesteps – FV crisis support service (24/7) 1800 015 188

Housing and Homelessness Support Line contact (24/7) 1800 825 955

Rural Housing Network Limited Wodonga 0260 559000; Wangaratta 0357 228000; Shepparton 0358 331000; Seymour 0357 352000

Centre Against Violence – women’s FV 0357 222203

VincentCare Marian Community – women’s FV 0358 219458 

Financial counselling and services can support people to budget, save and work through options of debt repayment.

Local services who provide financial counselling are: Gateway Health, Goulburn Murray Hume Agcare, Kildonan Uniting Care, Primary Care Connect, Nexus Primary Health, VincentCare Victoria.

Since 2007, WHGNE has written 300 loans for over $400,000. Women have used these loans for the purchase of whitegoods, furniture, vehicle repairs, educational and medical costs (including breast prosthesis and cataract operations). NILS is community credit. As an applicant pays back a loan, that money becomes available to other women in the community.

Are you eligible?

Any woman who has a health care or pension card and has lived at their current address in the Hume region for more than six months or have experienced domestic violence in the past 12 months, may be eligible for a NILS Loan for up to $1200.