Legal remedies have always been available to victims of family violence. A victim of violence can always sue for damages in State courts for the assault or battery committed. A civil injunction can also be applied to stop further commissions of tortious or criminal conduct.
However, despite the legal remedies available, victims rarely avail of these for a number of reasons. Suing for damages is rarely invoked by victims because they find such remedy ineffective to prevent or stop the violence. Payment of damages is hardly compensation for a victim who is not interested in getting paid but seeks justice for the criminal acts.
Victims find it cumbersome to apply for a civil injunction which based on experience has been granted more for property disputes and not family violence. Furthermore, the injunction that is available under Section 114 of the Family Law Act 1975 can only be used by people who are or were previously married to each other. Aside from being cumbersome, applying for an injunction can be expensive. Armed with an injunction police can cause arrests but in reality, they are reluctant to do so because they consider family violence a matter for the family courts to deal with.
As a result of the dissatisfaction with the legal remedies available, state protection orders have been introduced in the 1980s. Australian States and Territories have embraced a system of civil restraining or protection orders. Since 1996, unmarried parties and their children can apply for injunctions under Section 68B of the Family Law Act 1975.