Loving parents may extend the offer of a place to live to their adult children when things go awry. This can work out badly when the adult child is dealing with challenges such as relationship breakdown, addiction or unemployment. Often older people seek the help of SLASS when the home they have provided to their adult child has become a place where they no longer feel safe or in control.
Bob is a loving father to his daughter, Erika. Unfortunately, Erika is a heavy drug user and in the grips of addiction. In Bob’s ongoing effort to support Erika he had invited her to move into his home when she was evicted. While Erika was living with him Bob continued to provide financial and emotional support but Erika’s use of drugs such as heroin and ice intensified.
One night Bob had to call the police when Erika was aggressive and threatening towards him. Used syringes were left around the property, posing a safety hazard. Erika also welcomed other drug users into the house against Bob’s wishes.
Bob was losing sleep over the stress of the situation and it was beginning to impact his mental health. Despite his love for his daughter Bob knew she had to move out.
Caxton Legal Centre’s Seniors Legal and Support Service (SLASS) lawyer and social worker met with Bob. The SLASS lawyer talked about the options available to Bob to force Erika to move out. The SLASS social worker told Bob about the services available to help him cope with the stress he was experiencing.
Soon after, Bob got in touch with SLASS to say that Erika had decided to enter a drug rehabilitation program. Bob was feeling far more optimistic about the future and said he would connect with SLASS again if needed.
Police protection notices – one type of Domestic Violence Order
Section 101 of the Domestic and Family Violence Protection Act provides the police with the power to issue a police protection notice. A police protection notice is made when police attend a place where domestic violence is occurring or has occurred. If the respondent is present, they can issue a police protection notice to the respondent. This notice immediately requires the respondent to be of good behaviour towards the aggrieved and any named person who is an adult, and not commit domestic violence. If the named person is a child, the respondent must also not expose the child to domestic violence. If the attending officers believe it is reasonable and necessary to protect the aggrieved from domestic violence, they may include:
- a 24-hour cool-down condition on the notice (s 107 DFVP Act). This condition requires the respondent to leave the home and not contact the aggrieved or named person for a period of time not exceeding 24 hours
- a no-contact condition (s 107A). In addition to the above requirements, this condition also requires the respondent to not locate the aggrieved’s whereabouts if unknown to the respondent
- an ouster condition (s 107B). This condition prohibits the respondent from approaching or entering the stated premises. A return condition (s 107C) allows the respondent under police supervision to return to the premises to recover personal property.
In imposing this condition, the officer must consider whether the respondent has suitable accommodation for the period and take reasonable steps to ensure the respondent has access to temporary accommodation.
Prior to issuing the notice, the police officer must obtain approval from a supervising police officer (s 102 DFVP Act) and also reasonably believe that:
- the respondent has committed the domestic violence
- there is no current police protection order or domestic violence order in place between the aggrieved and the respondent
- the notice is desirable or necessary to protect the aggrieved
- the respondent should not be taken into custody (s 101 DFVP Act).
After the police protection notice is made, a copy of the notice must be filed by the police officer at the local Magistrates Court (s 111(1) DFVP Act). Filing of the notice is taken to be an application for a domestic violence order made by a police officer. Where a notice has been issued and an order is then made in the court, the notice remains in force until the order is served on the respondent and becomes enforceable.
Breach of the police protection notice is an offence with a maximum penalty of three years imprisonment or 120 penalty units (presently $130.55 per unit or $15 666). Police also have the power to arrest a person without a warrant for breaching a police protection notice.