The Family Violence Court is a specialist court in the Magistrates Court that hears criminal matters connected with domestic and family violence and abuse as well as the issuing of intervention orders.

An “intervention order” is issued under the Intervention Orders (Prevention of Abuse) Act 2009 to protect a person from abuse, which is broadly defined to include physical, sexual, emotional, psychological or economic abuse.

An act is an act of abuse against a person if it results in or is intended to result in—
(a) physical injury; or
(b) emotional or psychological harm; or
(c) an unreasonable and non-consensual denial of financial, social or personal autonomy; or
(d) damage to property in the ownership or possession of the person or used or otherwise enjoyed by the person.

An intervention order can be issued to protect persons in past or current domestic relationships and non-domestic relationships, such as neighbours. The terms of an intervention order can prohibit communication and contact of any kind by the defendant including texting and Facebook contact, being in proximity to the protected person, property damage and taking possession of property needed by the protected person.

The terms of an intervention order can also include the requirement for the defendant to undertake an assessment for an intervention program and if found suitable, to participate in a recommended program. The Intervention Programs Manager has legislative responsibility for the assessment and recommendations.

The Courts Administration Authority received government funding to establish intervention programs for men issued with an intervention order to protect their intimate female partner or former partner, from abuse.

A small team of staff are employed by the Courts Administration Authority to undertake assessments, referrals and monitor compliance and progress. This team is called the Abuse Prevention Team.

The Courts Administration Authority funds Relationships Australia to deliver the intervention programs which are called Domestic Violence Prevention Programs (DVPPs).

Family Violence Courts operating at the Adelaide, Port Adelaide, Elizabeth, Christies Beach, Murray Bridge, Mount Gambier, Port Augusta and Whyalla Magistrates Courts can refer men to a DVPP in the local area. The court usually refers men when an interim intervention order is issued and an associated criminal charge laid. The referral can be made a condition of the interim intervention order or it can be made as a condition of bail granted for associated criminal charges.

Men’s engagement and progress is monitored and reviewed regularly prior to program completion. Successful completion is taken into consideration when finalising conditions of the intervention order and in sentencing for related criminal offences such as assault.

If a man is referred to an intervention program under a condition of an intervention order, he must comply with the condition or face the possibility of being fined by police. He is informed he has two working days to make an appointment for an assessment and if recommended he is expected to attend regularly and engage in the content. These conditions are monitored closely.

The partners or former partners of men participating in a DVPP have access to a women’s safety service which provides safety advice and case management. This aspect of the program ensures that women’s safety is monitored and maintained while the man is undertaking an intervention program to address his abusive behaviours and beliefs.

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