Conferences in FVRO cases

You might be applying for a family violence restraining order (FVRO) and have seen the question ‘If conferencing is available, do you object to the matter being listed for a Conference?’ or heard about FVRO conferences and want to know what they are. 

You might be responding to an FVRO application and have seen the question on your paperwork ‘Do you agree to the listing of a conference?’

Conferences are a type of mediation that take place at a court building. They are a way of trying to resolve disputes in FVRO cases without having to go to a final order hearing at court. A conference can only take place if both the applicant and respondent agree to participate. 

Conferences are not available at all courts. Currently they are available at Perth, Fremantle, Joondalup, and Armadale Magistrates Courts and at Bunbury Magistrates Courts.

If you are applying for an FVRO, you can say whether you want to participate in an FVRO conference when you fill in the application paperwork. You are called the applicant. The applicant is the person applying for an FVRO. In most circumstances the applicant seeks to be protected by an FVRO. However, there are instances when an applicant can seek for others to be protected, for example, a parent applying for their children to be protected.

If you have been given (served with) an interim FVRO and want to object to the FVRO, you can say whether you agree to participate in a conference when you fill in the paperwork to object to the interim FVRO. You are called the respondent.

If your case goes to a hearing, you can ask the magistrate to send your case to an  FVRO conference. The magistrate may send your case to a conference if the other party in the case agrees to the case going to an FVRO conference.

The court will then set a time and date for the conference.

Free experienced family violence lawyers are available for applicants and respondents at FVRO conferences. However, if you have your own lawyer, they can come with you to the FVRO conference.
If either the applicant or the respondent object to participating in a conference the case will be given a court date for a final order hearing

It is a good idea to speak to a lawyer about whether to participate in a conference. You can find information about getting legal representation for an FVRO conference on our webpage Get help with restraining orders.

Quick Answers Video: FVRO conferences
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This webpage has information about what happens at a conference, the benefits of conferencing, possible outcomes, confidentiality at conferences, how long conferences go for and what might happen if the applicant or respondent do not go.

What happens at a conference?

The applicant and respondent are each in separate rooms in different locations in the court building and do not see each other during the conference. This type of conference is sometimes called a ‘shuttle conference’. The applicant and the respondent have access to free experienced lawyers, advising them at every stage during the shuttle conference.

A court person called a registrar runs the conference. The registrar will move back and forth between the room of the applicant and the room of the respondent. The registrar is independent. This means they are not on the side of the applicant or the respondent. Their role is to help the applicant and respondent to try and reach an agreement. Registrars are very experienced in helping people explore ways to try and resolve their disputes.

What are the benefits of a conference?

By going to a conference and working with the registrar the applicant and respondent have a chance to:

  • get free legal advice about their FVRO case
  • explore options to make an agreement about the FVRO that suits their situation, and
  • get the best possible outcome.

Reaching an agreement at a conference means the case will not need to go to court for a final order hearing avoiding stress and cost. It may also sort out disputes about the FVRO more quickly than waiting for a final order hearing.

Can I have a support person at a conference?

The applicant and respondent are allowed to have one or more support people in the room with them at the conference. They are not allowed to bring a support person who will be a witness or a party in their case if it goes to a final order hearing. The registrar must approve the support person.

Are conferences confidential?

What is talked about in the conference is confidential and will be kept private. Only the people who go to the conference will know what is talked about. The things said in the conference will not be told to the court.

How long does a conference go for?

How long each conference goes will be different in each case. The court will allow 2 hours for a conference. 

What are the possible outcomes of a conference?

There are several ways you might reach an agreement. These include:

  • the respondent agreeing to a final FVRO and withdrawing their objection
  • the respondent agreeing to a conduct agreement order
  • the respondent agreeing to an undertaking and the applicant withdrawing their FVRO application, or
  • the applicant withdrawing their application for an FVRO.

The parties might also agree to put the court case off (this is known as an adjournment) for something to be done. For example, for the respondent to go to counselling, or to get more legal advice, or to complete a parenting plan and then come back to court to finalise the case.

If the applicant and the respondent don’t reach an agreement at the conference the case will go back to court for a final order hearing. 

What might happen if I don't go to a conference?

You should try your best to go to the conference unless you have a good reason, such as being sick. If you cannot go, you should ring the court as soon as possible before the conference and ask if the conference can be put off to another day.

If the applicant doesn’t go to the conference the registrar may dismiss their application for an FVRO. If the respondent doesn’t go to the conference, the registrar is allowed to hear what the applicant has to say about why they want an FVRO. The registrar after hearing what the applicant has to say may decide to make a final FVRO.

 

More information

Magistrates Court of WA

Resources

 

Reviewed: 20 November 2023

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.