Reporting family violence

All family violence is unacceptable. Police will respond to any family violence that is reported to them, regardless of who reported it. 

Family violence can be reported to police by: 

  • the person experiencing the violence
  • another member of the family, including children 
  • by a friend, neighbour or anonymous person 
  • by another agency. 

Police may also find out about family violence in the course of their work.

What the police will do

Police take all reports of family violence seriously. When family violence is reported to police, they will:

  • respond as a priority
  • make sure you and your children are safe immediately (this may include removing the abusive person) 
  • assess the risks and threats
  • organise any immediate help that is needed (for example, call an ambulance or interpreter)
  • get as much information as possible
  • tell you about keeping any physical evidence (for example pictures, clothing or text messages)
  • make sure there is someone who can support you.

You can get protection from police, and from the courts through a family violence intervention order. In some cases, where there are criminal forms of family violence (such as physical violence, sexual abuse, stalking, property damage, threats or homicide) police may lay charges.

Your safety and protection

The police will respond to all reports of family violence, and have a duty to protect people, including children, if they are at risk of harm from family violence. The top priority for police when responding to a report of family violence is safety.

The police will ensure your safety by:

  • removing the abusive person in some circumstances
  • referring you to a service that can support you
  • referring you to emergency accommodation if it's not safe to stay in your home, and you want to go
  • help you safely leave the premises
  • if necessary, stay at the scene until you and your family members can be removed from risk.

 Police assess the risk to you by considering issues such as:

  • the level of fear experienced by you
  • the level and nature of violence
  • the likelihood that the incident will escalate
  • the presence of children
  • the presence of or access to firearms or other weapons
  • any threat of suicide or murder
  • the vulnerability of those involved (for example, pregnancy or recent separation)
  • any history of family violence.

This will also help police decide how best to keep you and your family safe in the future.

Family violence intervention order

The police may also decide to apply for a family violence intervention order if the safety, welfare or property of a family member appears to be in danger.

Police may make an application for an intervention order even if you do not agree. The police officer will make it clear to the abusive person that applying for an intervention order is a police decision, not yours. Your children can be included on the intervention order, or in a safety notice, to make sure you are all safe.

You can also apply for an intervention order at a court, without police. The Victims of Crime Helpline can give you more information about this option. Call 1800 819 817.

If the police come to your house after hours or on the weekend they can issue a family violence safety notice, which has similar conditions to an intervention order. It lasts for 72 hours and acts as an application for an intervention order, which will go to court. A magistrate will then decide what happens next.

The abusive person must follow the rules of the intervention order or family violence safety notice. It is a criminal offence for someone to disobey an intervention order or family violence safety notice. If they are found guilty they could pay a fine or even go to jail.

Find out how to apply for an intervention order.

Connections with support services

Police will provide you and your family with referrals to specialist services for ongoing support. These referrals may be formal (police give your information to the organisation) or informal (police give you the organisation’s contact details).

Even if you do not want help at the time of the crime, you may change your mind afterwards. 

Read more about the services available to you.

Mandatory reporting for children

If a child has suffered or is likely to suffer significant harm as a result of physical or sexual abuse, and the parents have not or are unlikely to protect them from that type of harm, police must notify the Department of Health and Human Services.

Protection at court

If you've been affected by family violence, the law in Victoria says that you should be protected from unnecessary contact with the accused person at court.  

Read more about protection at court.