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  • Subject Name : Law

A. The Location and Role of the Local Court in the Context of Seeking a Family Violence Protection Order

A. The location and role of the local court in the context of seeking a family violence protection order A summary of the legal process as it relates to protecting the adult son from family violence by order of the court;

Current Location and Role

As a Community service worker, the best way to support the 18-year-old boy in Queensland, Australia, is to seek protection from family violence. The relevant court to be approached in the given circumstances is the Magistrates Court. The Magistrates Court in Queensland is significant in handling domestic and family violence matters, including applications for family violence protection orders. It is accessible throughout Queensland, ensuring that individuals seeking protection can access the court efficiently.

The Domestic and Family Violence Protection Act of 2012

The DFVPA is the primary legislation in Queensland, Australia, that deals with domestic and family violence. This legislation consolidates all provisions related to family violence, including methods to seek protection through the court system.

B. A summary of the legal process as it relates to protecting the adult son from family violence by order of the court;

Summary of the legal process for obtaining a Family Violence Protection Order

In matters pertaining to family and domestic violence, the Magistrate’s Court of Queensland plays a crucial role. Moreover, the Magistrate’s court also significantly deals with protection order applications in such cases per the Domestic Violence and Family Protection Act of 2012 provisions. These courts are accessible to aggrieved individuals across various locations in Queensland. Citizens seeking protection from domestic and family violence can access these courts easily (Fitzgerald & Douglas, 2020)

Roles of the Magistrates Court (Taylor et al. 2015) with reference to domestic and family violence protection orders include:

  1. The Magistrates Court of Queensland is open to accepting applications (s. 32, Domestic and Family Violence Protection Act, 2012) from citizens who seek protection from acts of Domestic and family violence. In the given situation, the 18-year-old boy can seek protection by submitting an application to the court.
  2. Based on applications and appeals, the Magistrates Court of Queensland schedules hearing based on the nature of cases. In the given case, the hearing shall be for family violence protection. (s. 33, Domestic and Family Violence Protection Act, 2012) The 18-year-old boy and his stepfather shall present their arguments, supporting shreds of evidence and all relevant information pertaining to their case.
  3. Evaluating the arguments and supporting evidence of the plaintiff and defendant, the Magistrates Court has the right to issue family violence protection orders to protect victims from further harm. Considering the degree of harm the 18-year-old boy is exposed to in the given case; there is a strong possibility for the court to grant an interim order to protect the plaintiff until the final hearing.
  4. The Magistrates court can also impose conditions on the stepfather to prevent further violence, intimidation or contact towards the plaintiff.
  5. The court is also capable of issuing enforcement orders. Once an enforcement order is issued, a breach of such order can result in the imposing of criminal charges against the responding party.

As a community worker, I would thoroughly guide the 18-year-old boy through the application process for a family violence protection order. My assistance would involve guiding him right from assisting him with the application, briefing him about the legal procedure and helping him get all the necessary support to ensure his safety and well-being (Douglas, 2007).

C. An Overview of the Local Support Services Available in Connection with the Court

C. An overview of the local support services available in connection with the court and external to the court that would assist your client;

Application of a Domestic Violence Protection Order

The 18-year-old boy can apply for a DVPO if he is being subjected to family violence by his stepfather (s. 25, Domestic and Family Violence Protection Act, 2012). A DVPO can protect him from further harm by restricting the stepfather from accessing him or his residence. According to the legislation, the eligibility for a DVPO is that the son must satisfy the “relevant person” category. According to the law in Queensland, a relevant person can be a partner/former partner, a family member or someone with whom the respondent shares a child. As the son lives with his stepfather, he qualifies as a relevant person per Section 8 of the Victorian Act. To apply for a DVPO, the boy can lodge a complaint with the local magistrate's court or through the Queensland Police Department.

Interim Order of Protection

When an application is lodged, if the local magistrate has reason to believe that there is sufficient evidence of domestic violence, it can issue an Interim Protection order until the court provides its final hearing. Interim order of protection plays the role of a temporary restriction order ensuring that the applicant is protected from the accused perpetrator to avoid further damage.

Legal Aid in Queensland

This organisation offers free legal advice and representation to individuals facing family violence. They can help the son with the legal process and represent him in court if required (The State of Queensland, Department of Justice and Attorney-General, Queensland Courts, 2022).

D. An Explanation of How you (as the community Service Worker) would Prepare

D. An explanation of how you (as the community service worker) would prepare if you received a subpoena to both submit your file notes and attend court as a witness in this case;

Subpoena

A subpoena is a legal document that commands a person to attend court as a witness to provide substantial evidence or to produce relevant documents (Federal Circuit and Family Court of Australia: Subpoenas, N.D). A court issues this legal document. If an individual receives a subpoena, the person must appear in a court of law on the specified date and time. The Queensland Uniform Civil Procedure Code of 1999 and the Queensland Criminal Code lays provisions related to appearance and response to subpoenas in Queensland.

Being a community service worker, upon receiving a subpoena to submit file notes and attend court as a witness in this case (Stewart, 2000), I would consider doing the following:

  1. After receiving a subpoena, I would carefully read the contents, including the time, date and location of the court appearance. Furthermore, I would also make a list of documents and supporting files that I may require to carry to provide strong evidence to support the 18-year-old boy.
  2. I would strongly comply with the provisions of the subpoena and appear in the court of law as directed. Non-compliance would lead to legal consequences such as being held for contempt of the court.
  3. I would consider seeking legal advice from professionals about my obligations as a witness. Furthermore, I would also take advice about components of the subpoena to avoid making any mistakes. Consulting an experienced lawyer or solicitor in family violence cases would greatly help.
  4. I would consider answering all questions truthfully to the best of my ability. Providing all supporting evidence to support my statements will help make arguments solid and impactful. This would also leave less opportunity for the opposing party’s lawyer to cross-examine the information provided.
  5. Witnesses subpoenaed in a criminal offence have the privilege against self-incrimination. This gives witnesses the right to refuse to answer questions where they believe they may incriminate themselves.
  6. In some cases, witnesses also have the privilege against exposure to criminal proceedings. In such cases, they can refuse to answer specific questions that may lead to criminal charges against them.

E. Identify and Discuss two Ethical Issues

E. Identify and discuss two ethical issues that could arise for you in your role as a community service professional assisting the adult son in this matter. Include a description of how you would respond to the ethical issues that you have identified.

As a community service worker summoned as a court witness, I shall thoroughly know my rights before appearing.

I would consider a few ethical considerations as a community service worker. While supporting the 18-year-old boy, I should be mindful of my role in supporting him. Although ethical issues that could arise while I respond to him are stated as follows.

1. Maintaining confidentiality and the sharing of information

Maintaining confidentiality is one issue that may arise while ensuring the safety and well-being of the 18-year-old boy. As a community service worker, it becomes my utmost duty to respect my client's confidentiality and make sure that I do not disclose any sensitive information without the individual's consent (Nancarrow et al., 2020). In cases involving acts of family violence, there might arise a need to share relevant information with the appropriate authorities to safeguard the client and their individual rights.

Response:

To address this ethical issue, it is best to openly discuss client confidentiality and information-sharing protocols as soon as possible. It would be a good idea to openly discuss with the client how important it is to disclose relevant information to appropriate authorities in cases where there is an immediate risk of harm or danger. Furthermore, it would also be a good idea to obtain their informed consent to share this information with relevant authorities that would provide support to ensure the client’s safety. (Taylor et al., 2015) By obtaining such consent; it could also be easy to determine together the appropriate level of disclosure necessary to protect him from family violence. 

If possible, I would also seek the client’s permission to involve other networks that could aid in support. Family members and friends could help by providing emotional support or additional assistance when required. But throughout the process, it would be of topmost priority to ensure that any information shared is done understanding the degree of sensitivity and only shared with those who genuinely need to know.

1. Professional and personal boundaries

Another ethical issue that may arise as part and parcel of being a community service worker is the challenge of maintaining professional boundaries. Being a community service worker, I need to avoid being involved in the dynamics of a victim’s family beyond my professional capacity. (Eriksen et al., 2013) Though the 18-year-old boy may be vulnerable, I should avoid engaging in personal relationships, maintain a professional outlook, and provide unbiased support.

Response:

The best way I can address this issue is to establish clear boundaries from the outset of our interaction. I would clearly communicate my role as a community service worker by substantially stating the limitations of the professional relationship. Although providing emotional support is essential in the given scenario, avoiding trespassing into a parental role would be best. (Kagle & Giebelhausen, 1994) If, in case, there arises a situation where the 18-year-old seeks support that is beyond my professional expertise, I would strongly suggest he avail of other specialised services where experts can address the client's needs as per their requirements. Maintaining professional boundaries makes it easy for me to advocate for the boy’s protection order and provide all the required support without compromising the integrity of my role.

Being wary of the abovementioned ethical issues that may arise as part and parcel of community service makes it easy to proactively address them by communicating openly, acting with informed consent and setting professional boundaries. These aspects are vital and should be kept in mind throughout supporting the 18-year-old boy in getting a family violence protection order. By pursuing the scenario with such an approach, it would be possible to provide all the necessary support to the boy by upholding all ethical principles that guide my practice as a community service worker (Kagle & Giebelhausen, 1994).

References

Douglas, H. (2007). Not a crime like any other: Sentencing breaches of domestic violence protection orders. Criminal law journal, 31(4), 220-233. URL: https://deliverypdf.ssrn.com/delivery.php?ID=607074089082023064023116089010074100019000031052064056118111010085029065069119123076045022127062105116060079096121005074092070105018000043039102123103096024112028037023046119098028071096022087020107024114097110108111001124019067091023003097074025096&EXT=pdf&INDEX=TRUE

Eriksen, K. Å., Arman, M., Davidson, L., Sundfør, B., & Karlsson, B. (2013). “we are all fellow human beings”: mental health workers’ perspectives of being in relationships with clients in community-based mental health services. Issues in Mental Health Nursing, 34(12), 883-891. DOI: https://doi.org/10.3109/01612840.2013.814735

Fitzgerald, R., & Douglas, H. (2020). The whole story: The dilemma of the domestic violence protection order narrative. The British Journal of Criminology, 60(1), 180-197. DOI: http://doi.org/10.1093/bjc/azz043

Kagle, J. D., & Giebelhausen, P. N. (1994). Dual relationships and professional boundaries. Social Work, 39(2), 213-220. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1093/sw/39.2.213

(2022). Support Services. Queensland Courts. Retrieved July 20, 2023, from https://www.courts.qld.gov.au/going-to-court/domestic-violence/support-services

Nancarrow, H., Thomas, K., Ringland, V., & Modini, T. (2020). Accurately identifying the “person most in need of protection” in domestic and family violence law. Australia's National Research Organisation for Women's Safety. URL: https://apo.org.au/sites/default/files/resource-files/2020-11/apo-nid309729.pdf

Stewart, A. (2000). Who are the Respondents of Domestic Violence Protection Orders? Australian & New Zealand Journal of Criminology, 33(1), 77–90. DOI: http://doi.org/10.1177/000486580003300106

Taylor, A., Ibrahim, N., Wakefield, S., & Finn, K. (2015). Domestic and family violence protection orders in Australia: An investigation of information sharing and enforcement. URL: https://apo.org.au/sites/default/files/resource-files/2015-12/apo-nid60741.pdf 

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