A victim of family or domestic violence often needs practical help to get out of the violent situation. Many victims are held back from getting out because of lack of support or other accommodation.
Staying at home
Sometimes when the police issue an intervention order or the perpetrator is charged with an offence, it may be a condition of the intervention order or the perpetrator's bail that they do not contact the victim and stay away from their former home.
Indeed in considering making an intervention order, the police must seek to ensure minimal disruption to the person who has been abused and any child involved [see Intervention Orders (Prevention of Abuse) Act 2009 s 10(1)(d)(ii)]. Therefore, it is more appropriate that the perpetrator is removed from the home rather than the person who has been abused. Similarly the police may make conditions of bail for the protection of any victim [see Bail Act 1985 (SA) ss 11(2)(a)(ii) and (2a)]. When considering bail, they must also consider whether to apply to the court for an intervention order [s 23A(1)].
Other measures may be taken for the victim's safety in staying at home, such as making the home premises more secure through the use of security doors and window screens. This may be an option where the perpetrator does not live in the same premises or is required to stay away from the premises and only attends under the influence of alcohol or for some other reason. An effective security system can help to keep the perpetrator away or at least give some protection until the police are called for assistance.
Leaving the home
Sometimes it may be that a victim needs to leave their home to find safety elsewhere. This may be just for a night or a few weeks until the situation has eased or it may be permanent.
The Domestic and Aboriginal Family Violence Gateway Service 1800 800 098 (open 9am - 5pm Monday to Friday) can provide South Australian victims with advocacy, telephone counselling, short-term face-to-face counselling, support to remain safe at home or access to other safe accommodation and referrals for and in relation to police, legal services and financial assistance.
After hours, from 5pm - 9 am, on weekends and public holidays calls are diverted to the Homelessness Gateway Service 1800 033 308, which can provide support and access to emergency accommodation.
There are also regional domestic violence services that can provide advocacy, counselling and access to other safe accommodation on site or elsewhere.
Where possible, a victim should take any children to safety with them. They should then obtain legal advice about the ongoing arrangements for the children and any property matters as soon as possible. A victim does not jeopardise their rights to a later property settlement application if they leave the home as a result of family violence.
Legal advice is free from the Legal Services Commission or community legal services. If making an appointment for advice with the Legal Services Commission, ask to speak with a domestic violence worker. Ongoing legal representation through legal aid is subject to a means and a merit test. Community legal services may also apply such a test. Usually, those with little income, and who are caring for children, are eligible for assistance.
The content of the Law Handbook is made available as a public service for information purposes only and should not be relied upon as a substitute for legal advice. See Disclaimer for details. For free and confidential legal advice in South Australia call 1300 366 424.