Interstate and overseas restraining orders

If you have a restraining order, you may want to be able to enforce that order when you move to Western Australia. 

Australia has a new system that allows for restraining orders to do with family violence to be enforced across Australia, without having to register the order in each individual state and territory. This system is called the National Domestic Violence Order Scheme ('the National Scheme').

If a court anywhere in Australia makes a new restraining order to help protect someone from family violence, the order automatically applies across Australia as soon as the order comes into force. This includes interim and final family violence restraining orders, as well as restraining orders made by the police, regardless of where in Australia the order was made or what the order is called.

If you have an existing local restraining order relating to family violence, you can ask a court for it to be recognised across Australia. If your interstate restraining order is not related to family violence, you can ask to have it registered and enforced in Western Australia. If you have an overseas family violence related restraining order from certain countries you can apply to have it registered and enforced in Western Australia.

Find out:

  • about the new system to recognise family violence restraining orders across Australia
  • what restraining orders automatically apply across Australia under the National Scheme
  • how to apply for a restraining order to be recognised under the National Scheme, and
  • how you can have a restraining order registered in WA if it does not relate to family violence.

What is the National Domestic Violence Order Scheme?

This is a system to allow restraining orders made to help protect people from family violence concerns to be enforced across Australia, without having to ask for the order to be registered in each individual state and territory. If a restraining order is in force and is nationally recognised, the order will apply in every jurisdiction in Australia. 

This gives better protection to people and makes it easier for local police and courts to deal with offences where the victim and perpetrator are located in different states. 

The National Scheme does not change any state laws about how or when restraining orders can be made, how long they last, or the consequences for breaching those orders. 

The National Scheme started on 25 November 2017. New family violence restraining orders made from 25 November 2017 are automatically given national recognition. If your order is not automatically recognised, you can apply to a court to have it recognised under the National Scheme. 

When will a restraining order be automatically recognised under the National Scheme?

Any existing (current) restraining order relating to family violence will automatically have national recognition if it:

  • was made on or after 25 November 2017 (in any Australian state or territory, including WA)
  • was made or varied in a Victorian court (on any date), or
  • was made in New Zealand and registered in Victoria (on any date).

After the order comes into force (normally when it is served on the respondent), it can be enforced throughout Australia without you needing to do anything else.

When might I need to apply to have a order nationally recognised?

If your existing order is not automatically recognised under the National Scheme, you can apply for national recognition. This may be simpler, quicker and safer than applying for a new restraining order.

If you need to ask a court to declare that your restraining order is recognised under the National Scheme, you can apply if it relates to family violence concerns and:

  • was made in Australia before 25 November 2017 (including in Western Australia), or
  • was made in a specific foreign country and was registered somewhere in Australia before 25 November 2017 (or hasn't been registered at all).
What if my restraining order was made or registered in WA before 25 November 2017?

Existing restraining orders that were made or registered in Western Australia before 25 November 2017 are not automatically recognised, but will still be enforced in WA just like before. 

You can choose to have yours recognised under the National Scheme if you want the order to also apply in other states/territories. You can apply for national recognition in WA, regardless of where the original order was made. 

How do I apply for national recognition?

To have your order nationally recognised, you can submit an application form and simple affidavit in support at any Magistrates Court in WA (or Children's Court if appropriate). The court will set a hearing date for you to come to court. The person bound by the order will not be told about the hearing and does not need to be told the order has been nationally recognised.

Anyone who would be able to apply for an FVRO in WA can apply to have an order recognised under the National Scheme.

The court will make sure your order relates to family violence concerns and check that the original order was served on the other person (or they were properly notified using the right process).

What happens once an order is recognised under the National Scheme?

As soon as the court declares your order is nationally recognised, it can be enforced by the police and courts across Australia.

In Western Australia, it is treated as if it were an FVRO. The restraints and duration of the order remain the same as the original order. If the person bound by the recognised order breaches it in WA, they can be dealt with by the police and courts as if they had just breached an FVRO. 

Under the National Scheme, recognised orders can be enforced in any state or territory where a breach of the order has occurred.

A nationally recognised order can be varied or cancelled by a court in WA, regardless of where the original order was made. If a nationally recognised order is varied, the change takes effect in every state and territory once the person bound by the order has been served with a copy of the varied order.

There are complicated rules about what happens under the National Scheme if you have more than one restraining order against the same person (for example, separate restraining orders were made in different states before being nationally recognised). You should get legal advice about how the National Scheme applies in your situation.

What overseas restraining orders can be recognised or registered in WA?

Restraining orders from the following countries can be enforced in Western Australia if they are nationally recognised, or are registered in Western Australia:

  • New Zealand
  • Canada
  • Ireland
  • the United Kingdom.

If the order relates to family violence concerns, you can apply to have it recognised under the National Scheme. (Any foreign order previously registered in WA before 25 November 2017 can still be enforced in WA if the order is current).

If the order relates to personal violence, you can apply to have the order registered in WA. 

What restraining orders can be registered in Western Australia?

If you have a restraining order from another state/territory, or from one of the four countries above, you can have the order registered in WA if it does not relate to family violence concerns. Once registered, the interstate or foreign order will be enforced in WA as if it were a Violence Restraining Order (VRO), with the same restrictions and duration as the original order. 

Anyone who can apply for a VRO can apply for the order to be registered in WA by submiting an application form and simple affidavit in support at any Magistrates Court in WA. The court will set a hearing date for you to come to court. The person bound by the order will not be told about the hearing and does not need to be told the order has been registered in WA.

Once registered, the order can also be varied or cancelled by a court in WA as it if were a VRO, without having to apply in the original state or county.

Important: You will need to apply to register the order in each state or territory where you want the order to be in force. Only restraining orders relating to family violence can be nationally recognised.

 

More information

National Domestic Violence Order Scheme 
  • Department of Justice
    Information about the National Scheme for people in Western Australia.

  • Australian Attorney-General's Department
    Features a video about the National Scheme, as well as information in multiple languages and details of websites for each state and territory.

  • Magistrates Court of WA
    Fact sheets and application forms to have restraining orders recognised or varied under the National Scheme.

  • Children's Court of WA
    Application forms to have restraining orders against children under 18 recognised or varied under the National Scheme.

Reviewed: 6 April 2018

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.