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Violence restraining orders - information

Violence restraining orders - information

The law that covers restraining orders in WA changed on 1 July 2017. If you made an application for a violence restraining order (VRO), or to change a VRO, before 1 July 2017 some of the previous law will apply. If you apply for a VRO from 1 July 2017 the new law applies.

​​This information covers both applications for VROs made before and after 1 July 2017.  

​It may assist you if you want to know more about violence restraining orders including how to apply for one.

For information on family violence restraining orders click here.  

For more information if you have been served with an interim VRO or a summons for an restraining order see Responding to a restraining order application.  

If you are applying for the order you are called “the applicant” or the “person seeking to be protected”. The person who you want the order against is called “the respondent” or if a restraining order is made, the “person who is bound”.  


What is a violence restraining order (before 1 July 2017)?

A  violence restraining order (VRO) is designed to stop threats, property damage, violence, intimidating behaviour and emotional abuse in the future. It is an order of the court. It tells the offender to stay away from you and/or to stop behaving in certain ways towards you. The order can be worded to suit your situation.

There were two types of VROs: 

  1. VROs against a person you are in a family or domestic relationship with, and 
  2. VROs against a person you are not in a family or domestic relationship with.

What is family and domestic violence (before 1 July 2017)?

Family and domestic violence includes emotional, physical, sexual and psychological abuse. If your partner, ex-partner or a family member hurts, threatens or humiliates you, it is family and domestic violence. 

The law states that an act of family and domestic violence includes assaults, injuries, threats, stalking, damaging property, hurting animals or pets, and acting in an ongoing intimidating, offensive or emotionally abusive manner. Physical violence, stalking and threats of violence are crimes.


What is a violence restraining order (from 1 July 2017)? 

A violence restraining order (VRO) is a court order designed to stop future acts of personal violence by one person against another person they are not in a family relationship with.

It tells the offender to stay away from you and/or to stop behaving in certain ways towards you. The order can be worded to suit your situation.  

What is personal violence?

Personal violence means one of the following acts that a person commits against another person they are not in a family relationship with:

  • assaulting or causing injury 
  • kidnapping 
  • depriving the liberty of the person 
  • threatening to do any of the above 
  • stalking. 
​Even if the person gets someone else to do these sorts of things against the person to be protected they will be taken to have committed personal violence.

Who can apply for a violence restraining order? 

An application can be made by: 

  • any person seeking to be protected, or their guardian, if they have one 
  • the parent or guardian of a child or a child welfare officer (eg, a Department of Communities (Child Protection and Family Support) case manager) for a child or young person under 18 years of age, or 
  • a police officer for any child or adult. 

How can I get a VRO? 

An application for a VRO can be made: 

  • To the Children's Court if the respondent is a child or young person under 18. 
  • To the Magistrates Court if both the applicant and the respondent are adults. 
  • To the Magistrates Court or the Children's Court of WA if the person seeking to be protected is a child or young person under 18, against an adult respondent. 
  • Through a police officer who may apply for you by telephone. They usually only do this where doing it yourself is either not practical or the situation is urgent. 
In some circumstances the court may also extend an order to cover a person named in the order in addition to the person protected by the order.

Ask at your nearest courthouse for the application form or, if there is no courthouse in your area, ask at the nearest police station. The application form can also be downloaded from the Magistrates Court of WA website.

Note: A restraining order cannot be made against a child less than 10 years of age.   

See Restraining orders – court process for more information.

If possible get legal advice before you make your application. You can contact Legal Aid WA’s Infoline on 1300 650 579 for information and referral. 


Other ways to get a VRO

If a person is convicted of certain violent offences in a criminal court, that court can automatically make a lifelong VRO against an adult or a child unless the victim does not want it. 


What do I have to show to get a VRO? 

For applications made before 1 July 2017

To get a VRO you must be able to show the court that the respondent is likely to:

  • commit an act of abuse against you, or 
  • make you reasonably fear they will commit an act of abuse against you 
AND the court thinks it is appropriate to make an restraining order. 
 

What is an act of abuse? 

An act of abuse includes: 

  • any assault whether or not it causes an injury 
  • any act that causes an injury
  • kidnapping
  • holding another person against their will 
  • stalking 
  • threats to do any of the above. 
If the respondent believes they are in a family or domestic relationship with you, even if they aren't, then the following would also be acts of personal violence: 

  • damage to your property 
  • injuring or killing your animals 
  • behaving in an ongoing way that is frightening, offensive or emotionally abusive towards you. 
​If you are in a family or domestic relationship all of the above acts are acts of abuse.

At a final order hearing for a VRO the court can make a conduct agreement order if agreed to by the respondent. This is made without admissions. A conduct agreement order is not an FVRO but is taken to be one for the purposes of the Restraining Orders Act 1997 (WA).


For applications made after 1 July 2017

To get a VRO you must be able to show the court that:

  • the respondent has committed personal violence and is likely in the future to commit personal violence against you, or 
  • you have reasonable grounds to apprehend they will commit personal violence against you. 
The court also has to think it is appropriate in the circumstances to make a VRO. 


What conditions can be imposed in a VRO (in applications made before 1 July 2017)? 

A VRO can have conditions which stop the person bound from doing certain things such as:

  • being on or near your home or place of work 
  • being on or near a certain place 
  • coming within a certain distance of you 
  • contacting or trying to contact you in any way, including texting, ringing , emailing or writing- even through other people 
  • contacting you in certain circumstances or in particular way, for example, only by texting to make arrangements for contact with your children
  • behaving in certain ways 
  • being in possession of firearms, ammunition or a firearms licence 
  • getting another person to do any of these things to you.

What conditions can be included in a VRO (in applications made after 1 July 2017)? 

A VRO can have conditions which stop the person bound from doing certain things such as: 

  • being on or near your home or place of work 
  • being on or near a certain place 
  • coming within a certain distance of you 
  • contacting or trying to contact you in any way, including texting, ringing , emailing or writing - even through other people 
  • contacting you in certain circumstances or in a particular way,
  • stalking you 
  • stopping you from using personal property you need 
  • being in possession of firearms, ammunition or a firearms licence 
  • getting another person to do any of these things to you. 

​Before and after 1 July 2017 

A VRO may also inform the person bound/respondent that certain behaviour and activities are unlawful, that is, they may break a criminal law.

Normally a VRO prevents the respondent from having or getting a gun or a licence for a gun. Also, if a respondent already has a gun and/or a gun licence, they must give it up to the police.

If the court is not going to order that the respondent must give up their gun they should tell you. 


What is a breach of a VRO? 

A VRO will prevent the person bound from doing certain things.

You should read the order carefully to know what behaviour is restricted.

If the person bound does something that the VRO says they can't do, they are "breaching" the order. 

For example, if a VRO says the person bound is not allowed to communicate with you, the person bound must not:
  • visit you
  • call you on the phone
  • send SMS or text messages to you
  • send emails to you
  • send letters to you
  • send presents to you
  • send messages to you, even through friends or family.
You should report any breaches of a VRO to the police.

Is a VRO a criminal charge?

A VRO itself is not a criminal charge. Notice of a VRO does not go on the person bound's criminal record.
 
However, if a person bound by a VRO breaches that order, they may be charged with the criminal offence of breaching a VRO. A conviction for breach of a VRO will go on their criminal record.
 
Breaches of a VRO can result in fines of up to $6,000 or imprisonment for up to two years or both.
 

How doe​s a VRO affect access to the person bound’s property?

A VRO may have conditions that mean the person bound cannot go to where they live (for example, in a shared house context) and/or work (if the VRO is between work colleagues) to get their property. If they do they may breach the VRO.
 
The court may make an order that removes the person bound from where they normally live or work, for example, if the person protected works with them. If this happens the court must make an order about how the person bound can get their personal property. Usually the order will state that the person bound can go back to the house/workplace on one occasion only, and in the presence of a police officer, to collect personal items.
 
If it is a condition of the order, the person bound may recover property in accordance with the procedures set out in the Restraining Order Regulations 1997 (WA) and in the presence of a police officer at a time and date convenient to the person protected. The police will try to contact you and arrange a time convenient to you for the person bound to collect their property in the presence of a police officer.
 

What if I want property back from the person bound?

You should not initiate contact if it is prohibited under the VRO. If, as the person protected, you have moved out of the place where you normally live or are not allowed to go to your workplace and still have property there, you may ask the court to include a condition on the VRO saying you can go back to that house or work place to get your personal property in the presence of a police officer.
 
If an interim VRO has already been made and the court has not made an order allowing you to collect your property, you can apply to the court for a variation of the VRO to include such an order.
 

How can I get the person bound's property back to them?

You should not initiate contact if it is prohibited under the VRO. The return of property may be covered by a condition of the VRO. You can contact the police and arrange for the goods to be given back to the person bound.
 
For other situations where you are required to take steps before you can dispose of goods left with you see the Legal Aid WA webpage: Abandoned goods or the information sheet Disposal of uncollected goods.
  

Am I eligible for criminal injuries compensation?

For information about criminal injuries compensation, see Compensation for victims of crime.

Where can I get more information?

  • Police support is available from your local police station (you can find out the number from the WA Police​ website by typing in the name of  your suburb) or call 131 444 when police attendance is required.
  • Contact the Legal Aid WA Infoline on 1300 650 579 for more information and referral.
  • Information sheets covering different aspects of dealing with restraining orders are available from Legal Aid WA. Click here to view and download these sheets.

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Last reviewed: 29/06/2017

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Last modified: 26/07/2017 11:34 AM

Disclaimer

The information displayed on this page is provided for information purposes only and does not constitute legal advice. If you have a legal problem, you should see a lawyer. Legal Aid Western Australia aims to provide information that is accurate, however does not accept responsibility for any errors or omissions in the information provided on this page or incorporated into it by reference.