All Magistrates’ Courts (and Children’s Courts, if applicable) in Victoria can hear applications for family violence intervention orders. However, there are special court divisions and services that cater to family violence matters. These are discussed below.
Specialist family violence courts have been established as divisions of the Magistrates’ Court in Heidelberg and Ballarat. The Family Violence Court Division 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. For more information, see https://familyviolence.courts.vic.gov.au/resources/family-violence-court-division.
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 in some courts also have the power to direct respondents to attend counselling. This is mostly directed at male respondents who are required to attend a men’s behavioural change program. If a respondent is ordered to attend but refuses, they can be fined up to 10 pu.
The Specialist Family Violence Service operates at other Magistrates’ Courts, including the courts in Dandenong, Frankston, Melbourne’s CBD, Moorabbin, Sunshine and Werribee. Court staff, police prosecutors and other resources specifically cater to family violence cases.
The Koori Family Violence and Victims Support Program is a state-wide program that operates out of the Melbourne Magistrates’ Court. The program provides Koori people with support, information and referrals to legal services in relation to family violence intervention order matters. This is a free service. To speak to a Koori Support Worker, phone 9628 7991 (Koori Women’s Support Worker) or 9628 7873 (Koori Men’s Support Worker).