Are domestic violence orders worth it? Do they stop an offender from hurting their families? Domestic Violence has no cultural, socioeconomic or geographical boundaries. Last year there were 71 domestic violence related homicides in Australia. That’s 71 women who are now lost to their children, grandchildren and other family and friends. Although domestic violence orders seem to deter some perpetrators – they do not deter all.
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A Place of Beauty Marred By Family Violence
The poisonous tendrils of domestic violence are throughout our vast and beautiful country. The Gold Coast, home to about 625,000, is one of those places. This place that attracts many tourists with its sunny beaches and thriving night-life seems to have more than its share of heartache. In the last few years there have been 9 high-profile murders of women at the hands of their abusive partners.
The most recent death was that of nursing student Teresa Bradford. Teresa was killed by her estranged husband on the 31st January this year in front of their children. David Bradford had been released on bail after serious domestic violence charges. Teresa had been rightfully fearful for her life and was stabbed to death by Bradford who then killed himself.
Investigators say that Shelsea Schilling, 20, another victim of domestic violence homicide, was killed by her bikie ex, Bronson Ellery, 24. On the 18th November, 2016, Ellery breached the domestic violence order against him and executed Shelsea after bashing her senseless.
Melinda Horner, 36, was murdered by her partner, David Lee, 46, at their Burleigh Waters home on the 1st November 2015. Melinda had previously taken a domestic violence order out on him and friends say a fortnight before their deaths the couple had a fight so severe it ended in choking and threats of self- harm.
Just this week, Lionel Patea was sentenced to life in jail after pleading guilty to the murder of his former partner, Tara Brown. Patea ran Ms Brown’s car off a road at Molendinar on the Gold Coast in September 2015. She was trapped in her upturned car and Patea bashed her with a metal plate. The 24-year-old mother-of-one died a day later in hospital.
The court was told Ms Brown had wanted to break-up with Patea in 2015. Ms Brown was granted a domestic violence order, and interim custody arrangements were made giving Patea joint access to their daughter. But within days, he hunted Ms Brown down and killed her.
Do Domestic Violence Orders Work?
Although domestic violence orders do work in the majority of cases, they don’t offer enough protection for some women. One in three intimate homicide victims are killed by current or former partners against whom an apprehended violence order has been issued. Those intent on harm rarely have any care or consideration of the consequences.
This is something Rosie Batty knows personally and lives with everyday. Rosie, who took out a domestic violence order against her ex-husband Greg before he murdered their 11-year-old son Luke at cricket practice in Melbourne, agreed that domestic violence orders were worthless when people are intent on unleashing violence. “An intervention order is an essential step. It’s the only available step to you really when you go to find safety for yourself,” she said. “But it only really works when somebody is going to follow it. For a recidivist or someone that’s going to reoffend it only is a piece of paper. It’s not like it’s acceptable to breach it … there needs to be zero tolerance.”
Just last year in Queensland the maximum penalties for first-time domestic violence order breaches were increased to three years’ imprisonment and for subsequent breaches to five years. This was only after a series of awful family violence attacks where women and children were killed – including lives lost on the Gold Coast. It seems that no particular place of address is immune from this kind of tragedy. But with the increase in penalties and awareness of domestic violence all hope is not lost.
What Happens When You Apply For a Domestic Violence Order?
In Queensland the police can apply for a protection order, or you can – or someone on your behalf can apply for one. One is called a police application and the other is a private application.
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A police protection order can be issued on the spot, but private applications need to be decided on by a magistrate. A court date is set and there is a first hearing called the ‘mention’. The protection order may be decided here or at a later hearing.
Once a domestic violence order is in place the respondent must obey the order’s conditions, which may include not committing violence towards you, not having any weapons or a weapons licence, and not approaching you or coming within a certain distance of you. Breaching the domestic violence order becomes a criminal offence once it is in place.
Applying for a domestic violence order takes time, so if you believe you are in immediate danger you can apply for a temporary protection order. This is a temporary order that applies until the court decides the application for a protection order.
At Divorce Lawyers Brisbane our compassionate family lawyers offer a free, 10-minute phone consultation. We understand the complexities of divorce and the heartache of family violence. To speak to one of our family lawyers please contact us today. If you are in immediate danger then please contact the police on 000.