Chapter Two explains the Victoria Police response to family violence and discusses how workers can support victim survivors through this process.
Q&A – Victoria Police Response
The following are the questions most commonly asked by regional stakeholders about the Victoria Police response to family violence.
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- Police may receive reports of family violence directly from the affected family members; their family, including children; from a friend, neighbour or anonymous person; or from another service.
- Reports are often made by telephone or in person at a police station.
- Police may also detect family violence in the course of their normal duties.
- In cases where the affected family member is not fluent in English, an interpreter of the same gender as the victim (if appropriate) should be arranged at the earliest opportunity and at every stage of the investigation. This includes:
- during initial crisis intervention (e.g. at the scene)
- when evidence gathering and statement taking
- when explaining the conditions and purpose of a family violence safety notice and/or intervention order to the affected family member or the respondent.
- Police should not use individuals known to the affected family member or the respondent as interpreters. Importantly, family members and children should not be used.
- Police investigate any criminal offences that have been reported to them. In addition to investigating the criminal offences, police will consider civil options and, where appropriate, will apply for an intervention order or family violence safety notice to help keep the affected family member safe.
- In circumstances where there are no criminal offences disclosed to police, consideration will still be given as to whether civil options are appropriate.
- Victoria Police recognises that children and young people are particularly vulnerable to the negative impact of family violence and for this reason they are likely to require additional assistance and support. The needs of children and young people are different from their parents. Therefore, it is essential that police assess the interests of children independently from those of a parent.
- Upon receiving a report of any family violence incident, police must:
- consider the safety needs of children and young people separately and where appropriate include them in an application for an IVO to protect the AFM: or consider the need for a separate application with the child or young person as the AFM
- consider the referral or reporting needs of the child. If the child or young person has suffered or is likely to suffer, significant harm as a result of physical injury or sexual abuse, police must make a mandatory report to Child Protection
- consider making a referral to Child First where there are significant concerns for the wellbeing of a child, unborn child or young person
- make mention of children and young people present in any referral made on behalf of the affected family member.
- Police will make an application for an intervention order or family violence safety notice wherever the safety, welfare or property of a family member appears to be endangered by another family member.
- Intervention order conditions may, amongst other things, prohibit the respondent from:
- contacting or communicating with an affected family member by any means
- approaching or remaining within five metres of an affected family member
- going to or remaining within 200 metres of a named address or any other place where an affected family member lives, works or attends school/childcare.
- Once the intervention order or family violence safety notice has been served, a respondent who is in breach of the order can be arrested.
- 'Holding powers' are to be used for the safety of affected family members and their children, or preserve property of affected family members while an application is being made for an intervention order. A respondent can be directed to a police station, or another location and must remain there whilst the application for an intervention order is made.
- If workers have any questions following an incident that has been reported to police, they can liaise with the police member involved. The Family Violence Liaison Officer at the relevant police station may also be able to assist, and may refer the worker to the Family Violence Investigation Unit (FVIU) if the incident is being investigated or if risk management is being undertaken by the FVIU.
- In the first instance, feedback or issues concerning police action should be dealt with at the local level by contracting:
- the Family Violence Liaison Officer (who is a police supervisor)
- another police supervisor, or
- the Officer in Charge of the relevant police station.
- Any unresolved issues can be referred to the Divisional Family Violence Manager.
- Professional Standards Command can also be contacted if a person has feedback or wants to make a complaint about police.
Victoria Police Response resources on the NIFVS website has more information about the Victoria Police family violence response including the Victoria Police Code of Practice for the Investigation of Family Violence.
NIFVS Service Directory provides a list of legal services, courts, specialist family violence services and other relevant services.