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Personal Safety Intervention Orders - What you need to know

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In Victoria, Personal Safety Intervention Orders protect a person from physical or mental harm caused by someone who is not a family member. Here are 10 things that you need to know about Personal Safety Intervention Orders.

 

1. What is a Personal Safety Intervention Order?

Personal Safety Intervention Order (PSIO) is a Court Order made under the Personal Safety Intervention Orders Act to protect a person from physical or mental harm caused by someone who is not a family member. If the harm is caused by a family member, a Family Violence Intervention Order may be taken out.

The person protected by a PSIO is known as the applicant or the protected person. The person the order is made against is known as the respondent.

The PSIO has conditions that dictate how the respondent can behave with regard to the applicant. The respondent must follow the conditions of the order. A Court may impose any conditions on a PSIO that the Court considers necessary.

Commonly imposed intervention order conditions include:

  • The respondent must stop the prohibited behaviour;
  • The respondent must not stalk the protected person;
  • The respondent must not contact the protected person; or
  • The respondent must not go near the protected person's place of work or residence.

A Personal Safety Intervention Order is a civil matter, however a breach of any of the conditions imposed by an Order can bring about criminal charges.

 

2. What is 'prohibited behaviour' for a Personal Safety Intervention Order?

Prohibited behaviour includes:

  • Assault;
  • Sexual assault;
  • Harassment, including stalking;
  • Property damage or interference; or
  • Making a serious threat.

 

3. Who can apply for a Personal Safety Intervention Order?

An application for a PSIO can be made by:

  • The affected person;
  • Another person known to the affected person, so long as they have the written consent of the affected person;
  • Where the affected person is a child, the parent or guardian of that child; or
  • A member of the Police.

If an application for a PSIO is made be a member of the Police, it is likely that an Interim Order will be put into place and the respondent will either be issued a Summons, or be arrested and bailed to appear in Court for a Mention Hearing.

The Interim Order will be effected immediately and remain in place until the Court date. Seeking legal advice at this point is encouraged and can help you clarify your options.

 

4. Who can a Personal Safety Intervention Order be made against?

The most common people to apply for a Personal Safety Intervention Order are those who have a dispute or concern with:

  • A friend;
  • A person they know;
  • A neighbour;
  • A work colleague;
  • An employer or employee;
  • A tenant or landlord;
  • A student; or
  • A stranger.

 

5. How do I apply for a Personal Safety Intervention Order?

If you want to apply for an Order protecting you or someone else, you will need to provide some information to your local Magistrates' Court. To initiate your application, you will need to complete an Application for Personal Safety Intervention Order and an Affidavit of Application. Templates of these are available at your local Magistrates' Court, or via the Magistrates' Court website.

Once completed, you will have to contact your local Magistrates' Court and request an appointment to lodge a PSIO application. At your appointment you will be required to submit your PSIO application together with your Affidavit of Application.

If your application is approved by the Registrar, you will likely be issued with an Application and Summons, which will contain the details of your PSIO hearing.

The process of applying for a Personal Safety Intervention Order is similar to applying for a Family Violence Intervention Order, which you can read more about here, or you can contact us.

 

6. Will a Personal Safety Intervention Order Application always result in an Order being made?

No. An application may be refused by the Registrar at the Magistrates' Court if they consider the application to be made in bad faith, vexatious, frivolous or an abuse of the Court processes.

Additionally, an application may be refused if a Registrar of the Magistrates' Court considers that mediation between the parties would be more effective in resolving the dispute.

Mediation is a conference-like process whereby parties attempt to resolve their issues with the oversight of a trained, impartial third-party, known as a mediator.

 

7. Someone has applied for a Personal Safety Intervention Order against me. What can I do?

If you have been served with a PSIO, summons, or an interim intervention order, you are the respondent to the matter and there are several options available to you.

a. Consenting to a PSIO without admissions

Firstly, you can consent to the Order while disagreeing with the allegations made about you in the application. This is known as consent without admissions. A respondent may agree to consent without admissions to avoid further court dates and associated fees, to have the matter dealt with as soon as possible, or for many other reasons. Consenting to an Order means that you agree to comply with the conditions of the Order for the duration of the Order.

b. Contesting a PSIO

Secondly, you may choose to contest the Order. Contesting an Order will result in at least one further court hearing, known as a contested hearing, whereby each party will be required to present evidence to a Magistrates, who will then make a final decision to either grant the Order or strikeout the application. It would be wise to seek legal advice should you choose to contest a PSIO.

Finally, you may seek an Undertaking.

c. Seeking an Undertaking

An Undertaking is a promise made by the respondent to the Court and the protected person to not engage in certain behaviour. An Undertaking requires the consent of the applicant and more often than not, will have the same conditions that have been sought in the PSIO application.

 

8. What is the difference between a Personal Safety Intervention Order and an Undertaking?

Whilst they appear similar and may include identical prohibitions, an Undertaking and a PSIO are quite different. Importantly, it is essential to understand that, unlike a PSIO, an Undertaking is not a Court Order. Rather, it is a promise made between the parties of a dispute.

Although there are many differences between a PSIO and an Undertaking, the most significant differences are the consequences of breach, enforceability, and implications on the respondent. Such differences are outlined below.

 

Features of a Personal Safety Intervention Order:

Consequences of breach: Criminal charges can be laid.

Enforceability: A breach may be reported to an investigated by Police and may result in criminal charges.

Implications on respondent: A respondent who has a final Order made against them will attract a prohibited person status, which may impact their ability to retain certain licenses or clearances, such as a firearms licence, a security licence, or a Working with Children Check.

 

Features of an Undertaking:

Consequences of breach: Affected person can use the non-compliance of the Undertaking to form the basis of a new PSIO application.

Enforceability: Police have no authority to charge the respondent if they breach a condition of the Undertaking as it is not a Court Order.

Implications on respondent: An Undertaking may be reportable under certain circumstances, but there are no implications on licences and clearances.

 

Our criminal lawyers can help guide you through the process and help you understand what your best course of action is.

 

9. How long does a Personal Safety Intervention Order last?

If the Court is satisfied that there are grounds for granting a Personal Safety Intervention Order in favour of a protected person, it may do so on an Interim or Final basis.

final intervention Order is made when a respondent consents or when, after hearing the evidence from both parties, the Court is satisfied that the applicant requires the protection of an Order. In both cases, the Court determines a duration as appropriate. The most frequent duration of a Personal Safety Intervention Order is 12 months, but the Court may order a longer period should it see fit.

 

10. If there is a Personal Safety Intervention Order in place and the protected person consents, can I engage in prohibited behaviour?

No. One of the biggest misconceptions is that a respondent can breach the Order provided the protected person permits them to do so. This is not the case. In fact, even if they advise the Court or a member of Police that both parties have resolved their dispute giving rise to the PSIO, you as a respondent cannot do anything that the Order prohibits, for example, attend the prohibited address, until one of the following occurs:

  • A Court alters the Order;
  • The Order expires; or
  • The Order is revoked.

If you are caught breaching a condition of the Order, even with the consent of the protected person, you may be criminally charged with a breach.

Should the Order no longer be required, there are processes in place to have the Order varied or revoked. These processes are different depending on whether the person seeking the variation or revocation is the respondent or the protected person. You may wish to contact one of our criminal lawyers, who can further discuss this process with you.

 

If you have any questions about Personal Safety Intervention Orders, please contact our experienced criminal lawyers.

 

How to contact our Office

 

 

Melbourne Office
259 William Street 
MELBOURNE VIC 3000 

T (03) 9200 2533 
enquiries@galballyobryan.com.au 

 

Dandenong Office 
Shop 9/147-151 Foster Street 
DANDENONG VIC 3175 

T (03) 9769 2510 
dandenong@galballyobryan.com.au 

 

Pakenham Office 
Shop 1, 15 John Street 
PAKENHAM VIC 3810 

T (03) 5941 7990 
pakenham@galballyobryan.com.au 

 

The information on this website is of a general nature only and may not reflect recent changes to certain areas of law. It should not be relied upon as a substitute for discussing your situation with a qualified legal practitioner. Contact us for more information.