THE Melbourne-based Neighbourhood Justice Centre has developed the first online intervention order application in Australia, with the aim of helping LGBTI people who are at high risk of family or domestic violence.

With one third of LGBTI people estimated to be in abusive relationships, the new online application will ensure the safety of those experiencing family violence and seeking support.

[showads ad=MREC]Neighbourhood Justice Centre director Kerry Walker said having the application online gives those experiencing family violence more independence and support.

“We want victims of family violence to have every confidence that the law will protect them as much as anyone else,” she told the Star Observer.

“We want the LGBTI community to have a real, lasting confidence in the court system.”

To apply for a Family Violence Intervention Order (FVIO) previously, those experiencing family violence would have to take a printed form to the court before filling it out beside a registrar, who would then enter it into the court database to be filed away.

“It’s often unsafe to go to the court, and there are a lot of things that are problematic for the LGBTI community,” Walker said.

“It takes an extra degree of courage coming into a court that traditionally responds to heterosexual people and if you’re dealing with someone who hasn’t dealt with members of the LGBTI community, that response can be homophobic.”

The new online form is password-protected, and people experiencing family violence can save it for up to 30 days and complete it when they feel it’s safe.

The form also flags high-risk cases to the magistrate to ensure they’re dealt with immediately.

Neighbourhood Justice Centre’s crime prevention officer Maree Foelz said: “We have the rainbow sticker at the front counter, we’re very welcoming for people to come in.

“But having to front up to a counter the first time is hard, and so the online process cuts down one potential visit.”

The new online form is currently being trialled in the City of Yarra in Melbourne until late this year, when it is expected to be rolled out across Victoria.

Walker believes the legal system for LGBTI people is a social issue that bears closer scrutiny.

“We have this discussion about marriage equality and the changes that are being made but the last faction in a sense is to crack is justice at the hands of the court system,” she said.

“We have to be more welcoming and more real for the LGBTI community.”


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