Court procedure for VROs
If you are an adult, you can apply for a VRO to protect yourself from someone who is not a family member.
An application for a VRO can also be made by:
- a police officer, to protect an adult or a child
- a parent, guardian or child welfare officer, to protect a child, or
- a person’s guardian appointed under the Guardianship and Administration Act 1990 (WA).
You can apply to protect more than one person under a single VRO (for example, to protect a couple from a violent neighbour), but the court will need to decide if it should make a VRO to protect each person.
Where can I apply for a VRO?
It depends on the ages of the person who will be protected by the VRO, and the person the application is against.
If you want a VRO against someone under 18 years old, you must apply in the Children’s Court.
If the application is to protect someone under 18 years old and is against someone older than 18 years old, you can apply in the Children’s Court or the Magistrates Court.
Otherwise, you must apply in the Magistrates Court.
If you are applying for a VRO against an adult in the Magistrates Court, you can ask the court to extend the VRO to protect children under 18 years old using the same application.
To apply, you need to complete the relevant form and can also provide a sworn statement of evidence to be used in the hearing. The court does not charge court fees for VRO applications. You cannot be ordered to pay the respondent's legal costs unless your application was made without any good reason or to harass or inconvenience the respondent.
If you urgently need an VRO, or it is not practical to apply in person at the court, a police officer can help you to apply for an order over the telephone.
What happens in court during the first hearing?
After you file your application form at the court, it will give you a date and time to come back for a hearing. This might even be on the same day. The courtroom will be closed to the public and the respondent will not be there.
If you made an affidavit, the court will read it and might ask you some extra questions. You might need to give evidence in court about your situation and what has happened. The court will consider the evidence you have provided about how you know the respondent and the reasons why you want a VRO to be made.
The court can make an interim VRO, dismiss your application, or adjourn the case to another hearing so the respondent can come to court.
What happens if an interim VRO is made?
The police will serve the interim VRO on the respondent. After it is served on the respondent, the interim VRO can be enforced by the police and the court.
Once served, the respondent has 21 days to object to a final VRO being made. They can ask the court for a copy of your affidavit and a transcript or record of what was said at the first hearing.
If the respondent does not object to the interim order within 21 days, it automatically becomes a final VRO. If the respondent sends in a notice of objection to the court, the interim order will remain in place. You and the respondent will need to come back to court for a hearing so the court can decide if a final VRO should be made. Objecting to an interim VRO does not mean the order is cancelled.
How long does a VRO last?
An interim VRO stays in force until it becomes a final VRO, or is cancelled or dismissed by the court.
A final VRO against an adult usually lasts for two years, and up to six months against a child or young person. You can ask for an order against an adult to be longer if you prove it is necessary. Final orders can run for different times if they are varied or cancelled by the court.
How else can a court can make a VRO?
VROs can be made during other cases and in other courts. This includes:
- in bail applications and court cases about criminal charges
- when sentencing people for violent or sex offences
- during parenting cases in the Family Court of WA
- during protection and care cases in the Children's Court of WA.