Applying for protection

If you’re in immediate danger or need urgent help, call 000.

If you need protection from domestic violence specifically, go to our section on domestic violence orders.

Peace and good behaviour orders

If you have a problem or dispute with someone who isn’t considered a respondent under the Domestic and Family Violence Protection Act, you may apply for a peace and good behaviour order under the Peace and Good Behaviour Act 1982.

You can apply for an order to protect your rights to peace and quiet, undisturbed by threats to your wellbeing or your quality of life, if a person has done any of the following:

  • threatened to assault or do bodily injury to you or someone under your care—or has threatened to have someone else do it—and you fear this person because of this threat
  • threatened to destroy or damage your property—or threatened to have someone else do it—and you fear this person because of this threat
  • displayed intentional conduct that has caused you to fear that the person will destroy or damage your property.

Note: If the dispute or threat relates to domestic or family violence specifically, find out how to apply for a domestic violence order.

What the order does

You can apply to the Magistrates Court for a peace and good behaviour order that requires the named individual to ‘keep the peace’ and ‘be of good behaviour’ towards you. The order can remain in force for a specified time period or as the court sees fit.

To provide the order, the court must be satisfied that the respondent has committed or threatened to commit an act of wilful injury or wilful damage against you and/or your property, or has had another person do it.

Before you apply

Before you start proceedings, consider getting legal advice to discuss:

  • the strength of your case:as you need to prove in court that your complaint is true
  • costs, as the court may award costs against you if your case is unsuccessful.

Also consider alternative/more appropriate options available to you depending on your circumstances:

  • If a crime has been committed, call the police.
  • If your problem or dispute doesn’t match a situation above, but you’re being subjected to unacceptable behaviour, contact the police or get legal advice.
  • If mediation is an option (i.e. trying to settle a dispute without legal action), contact a Dispute Resolution Centre to discuss your options. Mediation is suggested for all complaints but may not be an option for alleged threats of violence.

Applying for an order

Be aware that all information you provide must be true and accurate. There are penalties for making false statements under oath.

  1. Download both:
    1. Form 1 - Complaint (PDF, 18KB) or (DOC, 39KB)
    2. Form 2 - Summons (PDF, 185KB) or (DOC, 32KB).
  2. Complete the complaint form, providing details about the threats made against you.
  3. Provide an original and two copies of the form to a justice of the peace (JP) to be signed and sworn. Find a JP in your area.
  4. If the JP believes you have reasonable grounds to fear the person you’re complaining about (‘the defendant’) and they have a case to answer in court, they’ll issue either:
    1. a summons directing the defendant to appear before a Magistrates Court at a certain time, date and place
    2. a warrant to apprehend the defendant and bring them before a Magistrates Court.
  5. If the JP issues a summons, file the original complaint and summons with the Magistrates Court registry closest to where either the defendant lives, or the incident or threat took place. Pay the relevant filing fee when lodging your complaint.
  6. Organise for the complaint and summons to be served on the defendant. The police may organise this service for you. If not, arrange for the court bailiff or a private process server to serve it (for a fee).

Note: A JP may consider referring the matter to mediation instead.

Going to court

You’ll need to attend court (with or without legal representation) to get the order. It’s your responsibility to put your case to the magistrate.

You may bring a lawyer, friend or relative to court for support. If you need an interpreter or any other assistance, tell the court in advance. You will need to provide your own interpreter.

Mention date

The first date is a mention date where a magistrate can make an order if either:

  • the defendant agrees
  • if the defendant fails to appear and they have definitely been served with the complaint and summons, and you can show the complaint falls into an above category.

Instead of making an order, the magistrate may refer the matter to mediation before proceeding.

If the defendant contests the complaint, the magistrate will adjourn (postpone) and set a hearing date.

Hearing date

On a hearing date, both parties present their version of events and provide evidence (such as witnesses or written material as a sworn affidavit). The magistrate makes a decision based on the evidence presented.

Be prepared to answer all questions and give your reasons for the application. You’re under oath to provide true and honest statements.

If you don’t appear, or the court finds your application vexatious or malicious, you may need to pay costs.

Possible outcomes

The court may dismiss your complaint or impose an order against the defendant.

If the magistrate makes the order, you and the defendant will receive a copy. If the complaint is dismissed, the magistrate may make an order for you to pay costs.

Costs may also be awarded if the court decides that the application was filed vexatiously or maliciously.

If the defendant doesn’t appear

If there is no doubt the defendant received the summons, the magistrate may:

  • issue a warrant to apprehend the defendant and bring them before the court
  • proceed with the hearing and make a decision without the defendant
  • adjourn the hearing to another time.

If the defendant disobeys the order

If the defendant disobeys the order, you can make a further complaint under a breach of the order. You can also contact the police who may take action on your behalf.

The defendant may be fined up to $12,190 or imprisoned for one year for breaching the order.

Further information

Contact your nearest Magistrates Court for help making a complaint.