Family Violence Court Division

The Family Violence Court Division commenced sitting at the Magistrates’ Court of Victoria at Ballarat and Heidelberg on 14 June 2005.

Aims of the Family Violence Court Division

The Family Violence Court Division is a division of the Magistrates' Court of Victoria.

The aims of the division are to:

  • make access to the court easier
  • promote the safety of persons affected by violence
  • increase accountability of persons who have used violence against family members and encourage them to change their behaviour
  • increase the protection of children exposed to family violence.

The Family Violence Court Division also aims to make the process of applying for an intervention order easier, by having support services available to improve victims’ safety and provide assistance in overcoming the trauma that is caused by family violence.

Features of the Family Violence Court Division

The Family Violence Court Division of the Magistrates' Court of Victoria specialises in hearing family violence cases.

In the Family Violence Court Division:

  • There are special support services located at the Court to help people with their case. These services include advocacy, referral, increased legal services and links from the court to key family violence organisations in the community.
  • There are specially assigned Magistrates, trained applicant and respondent support workers, family violence outreach workers, additional legal services from Victoria Legal Aid and Community Legal Centres, dedicated prosecutors and additional security officers. A  dedicated Family Violence Court Registrar coordinates these services at the Court.
  • The Magistrates, family violence registrars, police prosecutors, applicant support workers, respondent support workers, outreach workers and lawyers have special training and knowledge in family violence matters.
  • There is an increased focus on recognising and responding to the needs of applicants from culturally and linguistically diverse (CALD) communities, Indigenous applicants and applicants with a disability, as well as children affected by family violence.
  • The Magistrate can hear other related matters at the same time as hearing intervention order cases. These include bail applications and pleas in criminal cases, family law parenting orders matters and Victims of Crime applications that are related to family violence.
  • In some cases, the Magistrate can order respondents who use violence against their partners or former partners to attend a behaviour change counselling program to change their violent and abusive behaviour.
Legislation

The power of the Family Violence Court Division to direct a respondent in an intervention order proceeding to counselling is provided in Part 5 of the Family Violence Protection Act 2008.

Specialist Family Violence Service

The Specialist Family Violence Service received its funding through the A Fairer Victoria policy statement in 2005 which represents government’s commitment to high quality service responses to reduce and prevent family violence.

The Specialist Family Violence Service operates at the Melbourne, Frankston, Sunshine and Werribee Magistrates Courts.

Aims of the Specialist Family Violence Service

The Specialist Family Violence Service aims to:

  • Simplify access affected family members and affected children’s access to the justice system.
  • Enhance the safety of affected family members and affected children.
 Features of the Specialist Family Violence Service

The Specialist Family Violence Service specialises in hearing applications for family violence intervention orders.

 In the Specialist Family Violence Service:

  • There are specially assigned Magistrates, trained applicant support workers, family violence outreach workers, additional legal services from Victoria Legal Aid and Community Legal Centres, dedicated prosecutors and additional security officers. A dedicated Family Violence Court Registrar coordinates these services at the Court.
  • The Magistrates, family violence registrars, police prosecutors, applicant support workers, outreach workers and lawyers have special training and knowledge in family violence matters.
  • There is an increased focus on recognising and responding to the needs of applicants from culturally and linguistically diverse (CALD) communities, Indigenous applicants and applicants with a disability, as well as children affected by family violence.
Comparing the Specialist Family Violence Service and the Family Violence Court Division

The Specialist Family Violence Service and the Family Violence Court Division both aim to simplify access to the justice system and increase safety for affected family members and children. The Specialist Family Violence Service however is not a new division of the Magistrates’ Court of Victoria and does not allow for the hearing of other proceedings relating to the parties involved in the intervention order application and does not have the power to direct respondents for counselling.

Koori Family Violence Court Support Program

The Koori Family Violence Court Support Program was developed by the Department of Justice in 2008, in collaboration with representatives from the court, the Aboriginal Justice Forum and the Indigenous Family Violence Partnership Forum. It is one of several initiatives established under the Strong Culture, Strong Peoples, Strong Families 10 Year Plan. The Family Violence Court Support Program commenced operations on 4 July 2011 at the Melbourne Magistrates' Court and will run as a pilot program until June 2012. The program is only available at the Melbourne Magistrates' Court.

The aim of the Program is to provide a more culturally appropriate and supportive response to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people who have a family violence matter at the Melbourne Magistrates' Court.

The Program employs a Koori Men's and Koori Women's Support Worker, who can:

  • Support Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander people who are applying for or responding to a family violence intervention order or family violence safety notice.
  •  Provide information about the Court process and make appropriate referrals to legal services and family violence support services in the community.
  • Conduct risk assessments and give information about how to keep safe from further family violence.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander families may be referred to the Program by the police, registry staff, and magistrates or from another court program or external agency.

For further information about the Koori Family Violence Court Support Program, please refer to the Koori Family Violence Court Support Program Factsheet under the Related Publications menu.

Court Details: For contact details for each court, please go to the 'Contact Us' section of the website, link available from the top navigation menu.

Family Violence Court Division:

  • Ballarat Magistrates' Court
  • Heidelberg Magistrates' Court

Specialist Family Violence Service:

  • Melbourne Magistrates' Court
  • Frankston Magistrates' Court
  • Sunshine Magistrates' Court
  • Werribee Magistrates' Court
Area of Legislation: 

Contacts

Contact the Magistrates' Court where your matter is listed or your nearest court. 
Contact details for all Victorian Magistrates' Courts are available under Contact Us

Email: help@magistratescourt.vic.gov.au