While COVID-19 is increasing the pressures of families and couples, the law is clear that wherever there is violence or abuse between intimate partners or ex-partners it is “family violence.” The Family Violence Act 2004 confirms that family violence is a criminal act, captures more of the behaviours which harm adults and children, provides for orders to improve the safety of people experiencing violence or abuse and makes it easier for government services to respond effectively.
Stress related to changes in employment, illness and isolation are not excuses for violence or abuse. The law seeks to support the safety, mental wellbeing and interests of people affected by family violence, including children who see, hear or are exposed to the effects of violence and abuse towards their parents.
What is family violence?
The legal definition of family violence in Tasmania includes the following, when committed against a partner, spouse, ex-partner or ex-spouse:
- assault, including sexual assault;
- verbal abuse;
- stalking or bullying;
- economic abuse - that is, behaviour that is controlling and causes fear about money and property of the couple or their children;
- emotional abuse - that can include anything from verbal abuse to intimidation or coercion, it can also include threats to or physical abuse of someone else or a pet;
- intimidation; and
- breaching any existing orders relating to family violence.
The law recognises that damage to property may be a form of family violence. It is family violence if a partner, spouse, ex-partner or ex-spouse directly or indirectly damages property owned by you, jointly owned with you, or property owned by a child affected by the family violence, or property belonging to your friends, family or landlord.
What legal options are available if I am experiencing family violence?
If you or someone you know are experiencing family violence and are at immediate risk of harm phone Police on Triple Zero (000).
A Police officer may make a Police Family Violence Order (PFVO) against someone if the officer is satisfied that the person has committed, or is likely to commit, a family violence offence.
You may also apply to a Court to make a Family Violence Order (FVO).
What is a Family Violence Order (FVO) or Police Family Violence Order (PFVO)?
Both FVOs and PFVOs tell someone not to do certain things, especially not to commit family violence. If someone breaks an Order, they can be charged with another criminal offence. The Order has specific conditions which may include things like not allowing someone to be in certain places at certain times, to surrender any firearms, ammunition or any other weapons, or how to make contact with particular people.
If you want to know more about FVOs please call Legal Aid Commission of Tasmania on 1300 366 611 between 9am and 5pm, Monday to Friday.
Where can I get advice and support about family violence?
Legal Aid Commission of Tasmania - contact 1300 366 611 to speak with one of our lawyers.
1800Respect - 1800 737 732 (24 hours 7 days) - 1800 608 122 (9am – midnight weekdays; 4pm – midnight weekends & public holidays)
Defendant Health Liaison Service (Communities Tas) - Monday to Friday from 8:30am to 5:00pm. Phone 6777 1204 in Northern Tasmania or 6166 0486 in Southern Tasmania
Children and Young Persons’ Program (CHYPP) – 1800 608 122 (9am-5pm weekdays)
Relationships Australia - 1300 364 277
Engender Equality - 03 6278 9090
Aboriginal Family Domestic Violence Hotline - 1800 019 123
More support services can be found by searching our referral database.