Contravene Personal Safety Intervention Order In NSW

Contravene Personal Safety Intervention Order In NSW

Contravene Personal Safety Intervention Order In NSW

Personal safety intervention orders are civil orders made in a magistrates court. If a respondent contravenes the conditions stated in the order, they risk severe consequences, including imprisonment, fines and a criminal record. Find out more about personal safety intervention orders PSIOs, what behaviour is prohibited, how to apply for an order and what happens if the order is breached.

Let’s take a closer look.

What Is A Personal Safety Intervention Order?

A personal safety intervention order protects a person from physical or mental harm caused by harassment, violence or physical threats. The order can help provide peace of mind to the affected person and a sense of personal safety for themselves and their family. It is an order made by a magistrate in court which will include conditions/rules that must be adhered to, or the respondent (the person the order is against) may be charged with a criminal offence. The personal safety intervention order act is structured in such a way that mediation is considered as a first option to resolve low-level neighbourhood disputes. Finding mutually agreeable resolutions and long lasting solutions via mediation can be a more peaceful alternative to going to court. A magistrate may refuse an application if they believe the mediation can resolve the dispute. Individuals at risk of personal harm have personal safety intervention orders available to ensure that they remain protected and can feel safe and secure in their homes and protected from prohibited behaviour.

What Is The Family Violence Protection Act?

The Family Violence Protection Act legislation protects a family from violence and their property from damage. The intervention order has specific restrictions to prohibit the respondent from engaging in prohibited conduct against a family member. While a PSIO is designed to protect someone fearful of a person who is not a family member, family violence intervention orders help protect the safety of family members. If a family member is experiencing violence, they will need to take out a family violence intervention order for their own safety, which will offer them protection. The order may be known elsewhere as a restraining order.

What Behaviour Is Prohibited?

The act covers a broad spectrum of abusive behaviour, from interpersonal disputes and violence to stalking. The order contains conditions which state what conduct is prohibited. It may include any of the following;
  • Assault
  • Harassment
  • Sexual Assault
  • Property Damage or Interference
  • Serious Threat
  • Stalking 
  • Violence or Threats of Violence
  • Psychological Abuse
  • Economic Abuse
Property damage is when another person intentionally damages or destroys another person’s property. It may also include threats to harm or kill family pets. Interference with property is when someone prevents another person from accessing personal property such as a car, medication or other items. Economic abuse is a form of domestic abuse where a partner or ex-partner takes control of the money and finances and all of the items in the home of financial value, which may result in the depletion of the individual’s confidence and financial independence.

What Is The Difference Between Harassment And Stalking?

Harassment is when someone behaves in a demeaning, derogatory or intimidating manner towards another person, with persistent unwanted contact, taunts, insults, threats or offensive language. Harassment will often include sexual or racial discrimination. Stalking is when a person follows, loiters or intends to cause harm to a person by waiting outside their workplace or home. Stalking can also involve unwanted material being published on the internet.

Common Conditions Imposed

Personal safety intervention orders will include conditions that a respondent must comply with. Otherwise, a breach of the order will result in severe consequences. Some of the conditions may include the following;
  • Immediately stop any prohibited behaviour, which may include stalking the protected person
  • Do not contact the protected person
  • Do not go to the protected person’s workplace or home

What Does It Mean To Contravene An Order?

When personal safety intervention orders are created, terms must be obeyed by the respondent. Such as “no contact or communication with the protected person for the duration of the order.” If the respondent calls, emails, or sends a message to the other party, they breach the order. Contravening or breaching an order has severe consequences and may result in a criminal conviction. The protected person should report any breach of the order to the police, who will determine whether to charge the respondent.

How Do You Apply For An Order?

A personal safety intervention order can be applied at the magistrates court. To make a PSIO application, the name and address of the respondent must be provided. The applicant must provide comprehensive details about what has occurred to make them fearful for their safety. They will have an interview with a registrar at the magistrates court who will go through the details of the application. Once the document has been signed, it becomes a legally sworn document.  The applicant can ask the registrar to request an interim intervention order if required. They may be asked to go to court to provide sworn evidence. An interim order benefits a protected person who feels immediately at risk, as the court process may take several months to determine a final intervention order. An application may be refused if the registrar at the Magistrates court believes the application is frivolous, made in bad faith or vexatious.

Who Can Apply For An Order?

Several people can apply for a personal safety intervention order. Depending on the circumstances, the police apply for an order on the person’s behalf if they think the person needs protection. In most cases, the following people will request the order;
  • The person seeking protection
  • The parent or guardian of a child, if they are the affected person
  • A police officer
  • A person applying on behalf of the affected person, with their consent
If the police believe that a person requires immediate protection, they may apply for an interim order, which will become effective immediately and be replaced with the PSIO once it has been finalised in the local magistrates court.

Responding To An Order

Firstly, the applicant will sign the PSIO application and confirm that the details are correct. They will receive a copy of the summons with the hearing date. They may receive interim orders if required. If an applicant has requested interim orders, they must attend court to provide evidence about their application. When an order is made, the police will send a copy of the application, summons and an interim order (if applicable) to the respondent. If a person is served with a personal safety intervention order, they can either;
  • Consent without admissions means agreeing to the order but not with the allegations made but will agree to comply with the conditions.  
  • Go to court for intervention orders and contest the order. Which will require evidence to be presented in court, and a magistrate will decide whether to grant the order.
  • Request an undertaking which must be accepted by the protected person, which is a promise not to engage in specific behaviour.
Another alternative is to attempt to resolve the dispute via mediation. The court may order the respondent to attend counselling for a family violence intervention order. Counselling orders are designed to encourage a change in the respondent’s behaviour and for the individual to accept responsibility for their violent actions.

What Is The Difference Between A PSIO And An Undertaking?

An undertaking and a PSIO may have the same conditions attached, but they have substantial differences. An undertaking is a promise between both parties and is not a court order. The consequences of a breach, implications to both parties and enforceability are vastly different.

Features Of A Personal Safety Intervention Order

A PSIO is a civil order and does not impose a criminal record unless the conditions are breached. However, if a breach occurs, the respondent may be charged with a criminal offence and be investigated by police. It can also impact their ability to maintain or obtain employment in security, law enforcement or child-related sectors and keep any relevant licences or clearances. Another negative impact of a personal safety intervention order is that the media is permitted to report any PSIO matter before the Magistrates court. This could reflect poorly on an individual who has a public profile. There are restrictions to the publicity of a PSIO when the matter involves children. There are also conditions under the Family Violence Protection Act that restricts information that can be published to avoid people being identified.

Features Of An Undertaking

An undertaking is not a court order, and a respondent can not be charged if they breach the conditions. This means that police do not have any authority if the conditions are breached. A protected person must rely on a promise from the respondent and could be put in a vulnerable or dangerous situation if the other party breaks that agreement. The benefit of an undertaking for the respondent is that there are no negative impacts on personal licences and clearances if a breach occurs.  

What Happens Once An Order Is Made?

Once the application has been filed, the applicant and respondent will receive the date for the hearing, which is called a “mention hearing” or mention date. At the preliminary hearing, the magistrate will ask questions about the application. Both parties may be requested to attend a mediation assessment, which will determine whether the case is suitable for mediation. Alternatively, the magistrate may make orders for a PSIO. A contested hearing will be arranged later if the application is in dispute.

Going To Court

Going to court for a mention hearing can be an overwhelming experience for many people, especially victims of abusive behaviour. If the applicant feels uncomfortable or unsafe in the respondent’s presence, separate waiting areas can be arranged. The court can also arrange for security to be present in the courtroom. In extreme cases, an individual may be permitted to provide evidence via a video link to avoid being in the same courtroom as the other party. It is not essential to have a lawyer when attending the first court date, and duty lawyers can provide free legal advice in court. If the matter proceeds to a contested hearing, both parties should arrange for a lawyer for representation. If required, the court can provide an interpreter to assist with the PSIO application and to be present at the court hearing. In some cases, a support worker may provide information and support. Also, in Victoria and Queensland, the court network group offers free assistance to court users to help individuals navigate the court process. Bringing a friend or family member to court can help provide additional support.

What Happens If The Other Party Breaches The Order?

If a respondent willfully breaches the personal safety intervention order, it may result in criminal charges. Having a criminal record will attract a prohibited person status, which could have a negative impact on the individual’s employment opportunities and lifestyle. For example, if the respondent worked in security or law enforcement, they would not be able to retain a firearms licence, working with children check or security licence.  Penalties for breaching an order may include;
  • Arrest
  • Receive a criminal charge for the breach
  • Imprisonment for up to two years
  • Receive the maximum penalty of up to $30 000

How Long Does A Personal Safety Intervention Order Last?

In most cases, a personal safety intervention order will last at least 12 months. A magistrate can extend the PSIO if they believe it is necessary. Alternatively, if the prohibited behaviour continues, the protected person can attend court and request the order be extended. They will be required to explain the reasons for the request and why they feel they are still at risk.

Can Changes Be Made To A PSIO?

A PSIO must provide adequate protection to the protected person, and adjustments may be required over time. It is possible to vary the order conditions as situations change. Adding or removing clauses can help ensure that the order is relevant and practical. To change a personal safety intervention order, a respondent must first attend a court hearing where a judicial officer will decide if a change application can be made.

How Do You Cancel An PSIO?

If a protected person or respondent wishes to change, cancel or revoke their PSIO, they must apply in writing to the court to explain why changes have occurred to warrant changing or discharging the order. The request must be made to the same court where the order was issued. If both parties disagree, they may be required to provide written statements and return to court. 

Summary

Personal safety intervention orders protect a person from physical or mental harm, including harassment, violence or physical threats.  When a PSIO is created, there are terms of the order which must be obeyed. Such as “no contact or communication with the protected party for the duration of the order.”  The act covers a broad spectrum of abusive behaviour, from interpersonal disputes and violence to stalking. A magistrate makes the order in court, including conditions/rules that must be adhered to, or the respondent may face criminal charges. Penalties for breaching an order may consist of; imprisonment, fines and a criminal charge. A PSIO is a civil order and does not impose a criminal record unless the conditions are breached.  While a PSIO is designed to protect someone fearful of a person who is not a family member, family violence intervention orders help protect the safety of an affected family member.  Another alternative is to attempt to resolve the dispute via mediation. The court may order the respondent to attend counselling for a family violence intervention order.  It is possible to vary the order conditions as situations change. Adding or removing clauses can help ensure that the order is relevant and practical. In most cases, a personal safety intervention order will last at least 12 months.  If a person is served with a personal safety intervention order, they can either; consent, contest or request an undertaking.  It is not essential to have a lawyer when attending the first court date, and duty lawyers can provide free legal advice in court. Finding mutually agreeable resolutions and long lasting solutions via mediation can be a more peaceful alternative to going to court.

FAQs

How Do I Cancel An Intervention Order In NSW?

If a protected person or respondent wishes to change, cancel or revoke their PSIO, they must apply in writing to the court to explain why changes have occurred to warrant changing or discharging the order.  To change a personal safety intervention order, a respondent must first attend a court hearing where a judicial officer will decide if a change application can be made.

Simon Fletcher is the Principal Solicitor at FletchLaw. He has been admitted as a solicitor to the High Court of Australia and the Supreme Court of New South Wales. His academic qualifications include of a Bachelor of Laws, a Graduate Certificate in Professional Legal Practice and a Master of Applied Laws (Mediation and Family Law Dispute Resolution). He can offer assistance in a wide variety of legal areas.

Do you have a problem with Personal Safety Intervention Orders or any other legal issue? Call us on 02 9159 9026 to find out how we can help.

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