Counselling Orders

What is a Counselling Order?

The Family Violence Protection Act (2008) enables a Magistrate to require the respondent to attend counselling when making a Final Order in favour of an Affected Family Member (AFM). The court must first order that the respondent attend court to be assessed for suitability for counselling. The counsellor undertaking the assessment must then provide their report to the Magistrate who ordered the assessment. The Magistrate, upon reading the report may then order the respondent to attend counselling (in connection with family violence). One such course of counselling is the Men’s Behaviour Change course, provided by various providers. In matters where the Court has jurisdiction, a Counselling Order might be made pursuant to s.127 –
  1. to provide for a relevant court to make orders to assess the eligibility of certain respondents for counselling; and
  2. if appropriate, to require a respondent to attend counselling for the purpose of –
    1. increasing the respondent’s accountability for the violence the respondent has used against a family member; and
    2. encouraging the respondent to change the respondent’s behaviour

Mandatory Counselling for Family Violence
Such an order is only available to be made against a respondent if at the time the final Family Violence Intervention Order is made, they are an adult and they reside in the relevant court’s postcode jurisdiction.

Unless the court considers factors relevant to the respondent result in it not being appropriate for that respondent to be the subject of such an order, the court will go on to make an order compelling the respondent to attend for counselling, with the ultimate goal of receiving a report that the respondent has successfully completed the course.

When a Breach Creates a Criminal Offence

It is important to note that these orders are mandatory and a respondent who refuses to attend (either for assessment or for ongoing counselling) commits an offence, and is liable for penalties.