Specialist family violence courts have been established as divisions of the Magistrates’ Court in Heidelberg and Ballarat. The Family Violence Court Division (FVCD) deals with a variety of matters related to family violence, including interim and final intervention orders, mandated counselling orders, civil proceedings in respect to damages for personal injury, victims of crime compensation, and breaches of intervention orders.
In addition to the powers that all magistrates have in family violence cases (see “What is a family violence intervention order?” and “Family violence intervention orders and Family Law Act orders”), magistrates also have the power to direct respondents to attend “behavioural change” counselling. This is mostly directed at male respondents who are required to attend a men’s behaviour change program. If a respondent is ordered to attend but refuses, a fine of up to 10 pu can be imposed.
In addition, the Specialist Family Violence Service operates at the Magistrates’ Court in a few other venues (including Dandenong, Frankston, Melbourne’s CBD, Moorabbin, Sunshine and Werribee). Court staff, police prosecutors and other resources specifically cater to family violence cases.
Of course, all Magistrates’ Courts (and Children’s Courts, if applicable) in Victoria can hear applications for family violence intervention orders.