Courts and Tribunals Tasmania

Criminal & General Division

Family Violence - General Information

The Family Violence Act 2004 (‘the Act”) and the Justices Amendment (Family Violence) Rules 2005 commenced on 30 March, 2005.

This legislation implemented the Government’s Safe at Home Family Violence Policy which aims to:

  • emphasise the criminal nature of conduct which falls within the definition of ‘family violence’ (see the Act, ss7, 8 and 9);

  • improve the safety of victims of family violence; and

  • implement an integrated Government response to the insidious problem of family violence in our community.

Amongst other things, the Act created:

  • protective orders able to be issued by Tasmania Police (“Police Family Violence Orders”, s14)

  • protective orders able to be issued by the Magistrates Court (“Family Violence Orders”, s16). This includes “Interim Family Violence Orders” (s23) which can be issued by a single Bench Justice in after-hours courts, and Magistrates at any time.

  • an ability to register an “External Family Violence Order” made by an interstate or New Zealand court (ss26-29).

  • two new offences: economic abuse (s8) and emotional abuse or intimidation (s9).  These offences are in addition to the existing personal violence offences of assault, aggravated assault, indecent assault, stalking, and various sexual assault offences in the Criminal Code 1924 and the Police Offences Act 1935.

  • a presumption against bail for offenders charged with a family violence offence unless the judicial officer or police officer is satisfied that the safety, well-being and interests of the victim(s) - both adults and children - are not likely to be adversely affected (s12).

  • escalating penalties for repeated breaches of Family Violence Orders (s35).

  • rehabilitation program orders requiring offenders to attend a structured Family Violence Treatment Program (s7(ea) of the Sentencing Act 1997).

Procedures and possible conditions for Family Violence Orders are substantially similar to existing procedures and conditions for Restraint Orders under Part 10A of the Justices Act 1959.

Family relationships covered by the Act are defined in detail in s4 under the definitions “family relationship” and “spouse or partner”. Persons not falling within those definitions will be required to use the Restraint Order provisions in Part 10A of the Justices Act 1959.

Special family violence sessions have been created in Magistrates’ calendars for listing and consolidating all family violence proceedings as far as possible. These special listing arrangements will enable better case management of these matters, and also facilitate better access to the specialist court support services mentioned below.

Leading up to the commencement of the Act, a number of specialist family violence-related services have been established:

  • Tasmania Police have employed 6 new specialist Prosecutors to deal with family violence offences and applications;

  • the Victims Assistance Unit has, or will soon, employ 3 Court Support Officers to assist victims of family violence, inform them of the court process, and accompany them to Court when appropriate. The Magistrates Court has provided an office and separate waiting area for the VAU officers and their clients;

  • the Legal Aid Commission of Tasmania has, or will soon, employ 3 specialist family violence lawyers to act for their clients in family violence offences and applications.

The necessary Application Forms are available on this web site.

Related court support services are available at: