Queensland Law Society

Facilitate empowerment or accountability

Keep the client fully informed throughout the legal process

Practice points:

Reassure your client of confidentiality and legal privilege.

Always remain client focused – not all victims want to navigate the legal journey.

Focus on the most effective solution in the circumstances of your client’s case.

Prepare your client for any meetings by letting them know any steps they can take prior to the meeting to assist.

Consider providing appropriate written material to your client at the initial interview so they have information to take away and read, after assessing it is safe to do so. You must ensure this does not place your client at further risk, for instance if the perpetrator discovered the documents.

Discuss available options and always let your client make up their own mind. Provide them with enough information to assist them to make an informed decision.

Communicate to your client that independent verification of allegations of domestic and family violence is not needed for a court to be satisfied that it has occurred, but be realistic about evidence available.

Remind your client about the principles in section 4 of the Domestic and Family Violence Protection Act 2012, that where there are conflicting allegations of domestic and family violence in the Magistrates Court, the Magistrate should identify the person most in need of protection.37

Make the client aware of Victim Assist Queensland’s services.38

Make the client aware of potential appropriate referrals for distressed children.

Consider the client’s workplace and employment rights to request paid leave and flexible working arrangements.

Where appropriate ensure your client is aware of how the legal system responds to victims who have used violence in response to domestic and family violence.39

Be empathic in your communications with your client and develop a rapport with your client.

Be aware that some clients have severe financial incapacity and consider referrals to appropriate support to ensure they can travel to attend court events eg Salvos may provide bus voucher.

When acting for perpetrators:

Make your client aware of resources available to address and stop domestic and family violence behaviours.

Explain the consequences of behaviours continuing in the legal process, including any attempts to approach the other party at events in the legal process.

Do not put pressure on a client to agree to any orders or agreements if it would jeopardise their safety and continue the domestic and family violence

Practice points:

Do not pressure the client to agree to orders or a parenting plan during a court event or primary dispute resolution process.

Communicate to clients that they have the right not to agree to conditions if they are not comfortable with the outcomes.

Provide information about the next steps and other resolution methods available if no agreement is reached.

Accept your client’s decision even if this means there is no resolution.

Explain any agreements’ terms and implications to your client.

Reality test agreements to ensure they are workable.

Place agreements in context. Ask your client to think of possible scenarios to ensure they fully understand the agreement’s possible ramifications.

Ensure that your client is aware of the process if no settlement is reached, including the likely costs, whether or not they will have to represent themselves, time to achieve an outcome, prospects of success at court and in obtaining legal aid funding, the impact on their well-being and health and the impact on the children being involved in any court process over a period of time.

When acting for perpetrators:

Discuss arrangements that can be put in place to minimise risk of certain behaviours recurring (eg limit any direct contact between the parties).

Provide information about the next steps and other resolution methods available if no agreement is reached.

Accept your client’s decision even if this means there is no resolution.

Ensure your client has a full understanding of the agreement’s terms and implications.

Reality test agreements to ensure they are workable.

Place agreements in context. Ask your client to think of possible scenarios to ensure they fully understand the agreement’s possible ramifications. 

With perpetrators, provide accurate information about domestic and family violence behaviours

Encourage clients to develop an awareness of their behaviours that are considered to be domestic and family violence.

Remind clients that regardless of context, domestic and family violence behaviours are never justified.

Remind clients that violent and controlling behaviours are solely the responsibility of people using those behaviours.

Provide information about resources available to address these behaviours40 and consider the impact of their behaviours and provide support for change.

Be aware of how your own life experiences may affect your views of victims and perpetrators.

With perpetrators, understand the process for obtaining a voluntary intervention order, voluntary intervention order programs and referral processes

Practice points:

Review Part 3 Division 6 of the Domestic and Family Violence Protection Act 2012 which covers the basis for making a voluntary intervention order and the way in which a court can make one.

Understand your local court’s voluntary intervention order process and voluntary intervention order programs operating in your area, as well as the referral processes in order to provide clients with current information.41

Explain the impact for other legal proceedings in engaging in this process.

Encourage children involved in court processes to feel empowered

Consider and understand the role of the Independent children’s lawyer.42

Consideration of a children’s counsellor or support worker to be present at interviews, etc.

Section 148 of the Domestic and Family Violence Protection Act 2012 provides that a child cannot be compelled to give evidence.

Section 149 of the Domestic and Family Violence Protection Act 2012 provides that a child must be allowed to obtain legal advice.

If domestic and family violence is a factor in a matter which requires a social or family assessment, make inquiries about the qualifications of the assessor and their expertise in domestic and family violence.

 


37. Section 4(2)(d) of the Domestic and Family Violence Protection Act 2012. http://www5.austlii.edu.au/au/legis/qld/consol_act/dafvpa2012379/s4.html
38. Victim Assist Queensland http://www.justice.qld.gov.au/   data/assets/pdf_file/0008/18926/Victim_Assist_Queensland_brochure.pdf
39. See R. v. Robyn Bella Kina (1993) QCA p 480 at http://archive.sclqld.org.au/qjudgment/1993/QCA93-480.pdf
40. Refer to http://www.familyrelationships.gov.au/searchpages/GeneralService.aspx?ResourceId=3319 for resources.
41. Refer to Magistrates Court bench book http://www.courts.qld.gov.au/   data/assets/pdf_file/0020/435026/dv-bench-book.pdf
42. http://www.familycourt.gov.au/wps/wcm/connect/fcoaweb/family-law-matters/parenting/independent-childrens-lawyer/ and http://www.austlii.edu.au/au/legis/cth/consol_act/fla1975114/s68la.html