Family Violence Contravention Offences

Sentencing for Contravention of Family Violence Intervention Orders and Safety Notices

The Council has undertaken research into sentencing practices for contravention offences under the Family Violence Protection Act 2008.

Victorian courts, the media, victims’ services, offender service providers, and the community generally have expressed increasing concern about family violence in recent years. A greater focus on family violence across the criminal justice system, especially in policing, has led to significant increases in the number of family violence matters reaching the courts.

The Family Violence Protection Act 2008 contains five offences relating to family violence:

  • contravention of a family violence intervention order
  • contravention of a family violence intervention order intending to cause harm or fear for safety
  • contravention of a family violence safety notice
  • contravention of a family violence safety notice intending to cause harm or fear for safety
  • persistent contravention of a family violence intervention order or safety notice.

The Council’s research project focused on sentencing practices for these five offences. It considered sentencing for contravention of a family violence intervention order and contravention of a family violence safety notice over two periods: 2009–10 to 2011–12 and 2012–13 to 2014–15. It also examined sentencing between July 2012 and June 2015 for the aggravated offences of contravention of a family violence intervention order intending to cause harm or fear for safety, contravention of a family violence safety notice intending to cause harm or fear for safety, and persistent contravention of a family violence intervention order or safety notice  (which became available in April 2013).

The Council published Sentencing for Contravention of Family Violence Intervention Orders and Safety Notices: Second Monitoring Report in December 2015.

The project builds on three previous Council reports:

The Council is undertaking a separate project on prior and subsequent offending patterns for offenders sentenced for contravention of a family violence intervention order during 2009–10. 

Contravention of Intervention Orders

This reference arose from the Victorian Law Reform Commission's Review of Family Violence Laws.

The VLRC report recommended that the Council review the sentencing of defendants and penalties imposed for breaching intervention orders.

In April 2008, the then Attorney-General asked the Sentencing Advisory Council to report on:

1. The appropriate statutory maximum penalties for the offences of breaching:

(a) a family violence intervention order
(b) a stalking intervention order
(c) a family violence safety notice.

2. Sentencing practices for the offence of breaching an intervention order.

The Council provided the first part of the advice to the then Attorney-General on these maximum penalties in June 2008 in the Breaching Intervention Orders Report. The Council’s advice was adopted in the Family Violence Protection Act 2008.

The Council’s second report, Sentencing Practices for Breach of Family Violence Intervention Orders Final Report, was released in June 2009.