Family violence and isolation issues during COVID-19


Social services organisations in Australia have predicted an increase in the incidence of family violence amidst the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, with the impact of job loss, financial stress and social isolation putting enormous strain on many.

Family violence has always been a critical issue, but may become even more challenging in circumstances where directions are given to self-isolate, with some of the usual ‘safe havens’ such as schools, work or local shopping centres no longer available for victims or potential victims of violence.

The Family Law Act 1975 (Cth) contains provisions aimed specifically at protecting children and family members from violence and abuse. The states and territories also have laws dealing with actual and threatened violence to help protect victims.

If you, your children, or somebody you know are in danger, please contact your local police immediately.

What is family violence?

Family violence is actual or threatened conduct by a family member towards another family member or property, that causes a person to be fearful or anxious about his or her safety or well being. A child is exposed to family violence if he or she hears or experiences the effects of family violence.

Specific incidents of violence include actual or threatened assault or sexual assault, stalking, derogatory and intimidating remarks, intentional damage or destruction of property, intentionally hurting or killing an animal, unreasonable suppression of financial resources or support and preventing or depriving a family member of his or her cultural connections or freedom.

What can you do?

If you are experiencing family violence you can contact the police personally or, if you are concerned about somebody else, you can contact the police on their behalf.

Family Violence Safety Notice

In the first instance, the police could issue a Family Violence Safety Notice, so long as they believe the perpetrator is at least 18 years old. The purpose of such a Notice is to provide the victim with immediate protection from the alleged perpetrator. The Notice would require the alleged perpetrator to go to Court where the Court would decide whether to issue a Family Violence Intervention Order.

Family Violence Intervention Order

You or, if they agree, a police officer on your behalf can apply to the Court for a Family Violence Intervention Order if you have experienced family violence and fear that it will happen again.

If granted, a Family Violence Intervention Order could prevent the perpetrator from:

• committing family violence
• damaging or using the victim’s personal property
• remaining in or entering the victim’s home, workplace or school
• approaching or communicating with the victim
• causing someone else to commit family violence against the victim
• holding a firearms’ licence.

What orders can the Court impose?

A Family Violence Order is the generic term used by the Family or Federal Court for an order made under a specific law to protect a person from family violence. The Court may impose whatever limitations or prohibitions on the defendant’s behaviour considered necessary to protect the other party and his or her children. The order may restrain the defendant from assaulting, harassing, threatening, stalking or intimidating the other person and from accessing / attending his or her premises or place of work. We’re here to help If you are in immediate danger or fear for your own, or your children’s safety, we urge you to seek urgent assistance through your local police.

We can help with the processes required to obtain a Family Violence Order and can recommend services to assist during these challenging times.

The Australian Government recently announced its intention to inject a further $1.1 billion towards mental health, domestic violence, Medicare and emergency food services with the implementation of universal Telehealth services (to include consultations with GPs and health professionals) and $150 million towards family violence counselling services.

This is a difficult and distressing time for many. Irvine Lawyers infrastructure facilitates remote working conditions and we will continue providing advice and assistance through telephone and video conferencing across all areas of family law.

This article is intended to provide general information only. You should obtain professional advice before you undertake any course of action.

If you or someone you know wants more information or needs help or advice, please contact us on (03) 9422 5439 or email