Personal Safety Intervention Orders - Barwon Community Legal Service
Court building exterior, awaiting personal safety intervention order hearing

Personal Safety Intervention Orders

The content on this site is information only and is not legal advice. If you need legal advice please contact us.

What is a Personal Safety Intervention Order?

A Personal Safety Intervention Order (PSIO) is a Court Order. It can help to protect a person from harm by another person, who is not a family member.

PSIOs are sometimes known as Restraining Orders or Apprehended Violence Orders.

Harm includes:

  • Physical, emotional and sexual abuse
  • Property damage
  • Threats or harassment
  • Stalking

The harm may have already happened (actual harm), or you may fear it will happen (apprehended harm).

A PSIO can help to protect you, your family, and your property.

If you or your family are in danger, you should contact the Police immediately on 000.

When you contact the Police, they can respond to immediate danger, threat, or harm. But to deal with an ongoing problem, or if you fear an ongoing problem, you need to apply for a PSIO.

The PSIO is put in place to protect you, your family and your property from harm. You can apply for a PSIO if:

A person has harmed you, or threatened to harm you; and
They’re likely to do it again

This can happen when a person has:

  • Physically or sexually hurt (assaulted) you or your family member
  • Threatened to physically or sexually hurt you or your family member
  • Emotionally hurt you or your family
  • Threatened to hurt you or your family emotionally
  • Damaged, or threatened to damage your property
  • Acted in a way that makes you concerned for your safety or your family’s safety

Damage to property includes harm caused to your pets.

If you’re the respondent to a PSIO application, you’ll receive a copy of the application from the Police, as well as a hearing date. This is known as being served with the PSIO application.

When you receive the application, you’ll need to read it carefully and decide whether you will:

  • Agree to the Order (you can do this even if you disagree with what the application says about you, but you need to tell this to the Court)
  • Contest the application. This means you wish to challenge or dispute it. The Court will schedule a contested hearing, in which evidence can be presented to the Court
  • Sometimes, the issues can be resolved if you promise to do, or not to do, something. You’ll need the applicant’s agreement for this.

If you wish to contest the application, you must go to Court on the first hearing date. Otherwise, the PSIO may be granted in your absence.

For more information about what to expect, see Victoria Legal Aid’s Self-Help Guide for Respondents.

PSIO is the new name for Restraining Orders.

A PSIO is an Intervention Order made against someone who:

Has threatened harm or actually harmed you, your family or your property (or a combination of all three); and
Is not your family member, for example:

  • Someone you know from work
  • Your neighbour
  • Someone you don’t know
  • A friend or acquaintance
  • Your landlord (if you are renting a property)
  • Your tenant (if you’re a landlord)

A FVIO Is an Intervention Order made against someone who:

Has threatened harm or actually harmed you, your family or your property (or a combination of all three); and
Is a family member, for example:

  • Your partner
  • Your former partner
  • Your husband or wife
  • Your former husband or wife
  • Your adult child
  • Your adult step-child
  • Other relatives

For more information, visit our FIVO page

How do I get a Personal Safety Intervention Order?

To get a PSIO, you must apply to the Magistrates’ Court of Victoria.

The Court uses some terms which you’ll need to understand:

  • Applicant – is the person applying for the PSIO
  • Affected person – is the person who needs the PSIO. (Sometimes the affected person and the applicant are the same people. Sometimes the applicant makes an application on behalf of the affected person, for example, a child)
  • Respondent – is the person who the applicant says has threatened harm, or actually harmed the applicant, the applicant’s family, or the applicant’s property
  • Conditions – are the rules the Court makes in its PSIO about the respondent’s behaviour
  • Interim Order – is a temporary Order. Usually, interim Orders can be made immediately and take effect as soon as the respondent receives the paperwork. They may stay in place until the danger has passed, or until final Orders are made

Final Order – is an Order that is made if the applicant needs ongoing protection. Usually, the Order is made after a Court hearing with evidence

Complete the application form

The first step is to attend a Magistrates’ Court to apply for a PSIO. You can attend any Magistrates’ Court, but the Courts within the Barwon area are the Geelong Magistrates’ Court and Colac Magistrates’ Court.

There is no fee to apply for a PSIO. It is a free service.

The Court will ask you to complete a PSIO application form. You can download the form online, print it out, fill it in, and take it into Court. If you don’t have access to the internet and a printer, the Court staff can print the form for you.

You can download an application form on the Magistrates’ Court website.

The application form will ask you for information, including:

  • Your personal details
  • The respondent’s details
  • Reasons why you’re applying for a PSIO
  • The conditions you think are appropriate to ensure your safety

When you go to the Court, you will meet with a Court Registrar (an officer of the Court). You will need to give the Registrar your completed form.

The Registrar will use your form to create a formal application.

The Registrar will then ask you to sign the application to acknowledge that it’s true and correct.

The Court will issue the paperwork and give you a copy. The paperwork will have a time, date and place for the hearing, which you must attend. Otherwise, the Court may dismiss your application.

If your situation is considered urgent and you want immediate protection, the Registrar will provide the documents to a Magistrate. You will need to go into Court and ask the Magistrate for an interim PSIO. The Registrar will tell you how this process works.

If the Magistrate grants an interim PSIO, the conditions will commence as soon as the Police give the respondent the paperwork. The interim PSIO is used as a way to protect your safety until the Court can hold a hearing to work out whether the Orders should be made final.

Sometimes, a Registrar may recommend mediation as a more suitable option than a PSIO. The Registrar won’t recommend this if your safety is at risk.

Mediation is a meeting which you and the respondent attend. You meet with an independent person called a mediator, who is trained in helping people resolve their disputes without going to Court. Usually, the mediator meets with both parties separately and then together to get an understanding of the issues and to try and find a way forward.

The Disputes Settlement Centre of Victoria offers free and confidential mediation services.

Your PSIO application is put on hold until after the mediation. If the mediation is unsuccessful, you have the choice of resuming with your application.

If you resume your application, the PSIO paperwork is issued by the Court and then served on the respondent. The Police will give a copy to the respondent. The paperwork advises the respondent of the date, time and reason for the application.

On the day of the hearing, the Court will consider whether to grant a Final Order. It may order you to give more information, known as Further and Better Particulars.

The Magistrate will grant the PSIO if it’s convinced that the respondent’s behaviour is serious and is likely to happen again. The Court will give conditions which the respondent must obey. Conditions can require the respondent not to:

  • Harass or threaten the protected person
  • Stalk the protected person
  • Assault the protected person
  • Have direct contact with the protected person (contact is only allowed through the Police, the Court, a lawyer, or another suitable person)
  • Come within a certain distance of the protected person, including any places where the person spends time (for example, home, school, childcare, work)
  • Damaging or threatening to damage the protected person’s property
  • Cancel firearms licenses and hand into the Police any guns or other weapons

The PSIO conditions can be negotiated to suit each party’s situation and to ensure a balance between safety and practicality.

If the respondent disagrees with (or contests) your application, the Court may have a Contested Hearing with witnesses and evidence. At the end of the hearing, the Court will either grant the PSIO or dismiss your application.

If the Court grants the PSIO, the respondent must obey the Order. Any breach means the Police can charge them. If found guilty of the offence, they face criminal penalties.

If the Court dismisses your application, you will need to decide whether to appeal, or what other options are available to you. We can provide you with advice about what to do next.

For more information about the PSIO legal process, visit the Magistrates’ Court of Victoria PSIO website page.

For more information about the hearing process, see Victoria Legal Aid’s resources:

You don’t need to have a lawyer at Court, although if you choose to, you will need to pay your lawyer.  It’s a good idea to have a support person at Court with you, especially if you’re worried about your safety.

There are alternatives to applying for a PSIO, depending on your situation, and especially if your safety is not at risk.

Mediation may be appropriate. Mediation involves you and the respondent meeting with an independent person (a mediator) to work out whether the issues can be resolved. The Dispute Settlement Centre of Victoria offers free, confidential mediations with mediators who are trained in PSIO issues.

Other options may be:

  • Making a complaint to your local council
  • If the issue concerns a member of a school community, asking the school for help
  • Asking the Department of Housing to intervene if you live in Government housing and are having difficulties with a neighbour
  • Real estate agents, if you are renting and having difficulty with a landlord or tenant

We can help you work out your options. Contact us to make an appointment.

PSIOs are civil matters. But if a PSIO is breached, it becomes a police matter.

Because the PSIO is a civil matter, not a criminal matter, you won’t get a criminal record if there’s a PSIO against you. The PSIO won’t appear on any criminal record check or a Working with Children check.

However, if you breach the conditions of the PSIO and you’re found guilty of the breach, the PSIO will appear on your criminal record.

A final PSIO may be made by consent (this means by agreement). If not, it is made after the Court has a hearing, considers all the evidence and then decides whether to make a Final Order.

Generally a PSIO has an end date which can be found on the Order itself. If you wish to have any conditions amended, or for the Order to be cancelled, you will need to make an application to the Court to vary/cancel the Order.

In both these situations, you will need legal advice.

If a final PSIO is made against you, it means that you become a prohibited person for five years from the date of the PSIO. You won’t be allowed to hold a firearms licence. If you already have a firearms licence, it will be suspended.

If you want your prohibited person status lifted sooner, you must make an application to the Magistrates’ Court.

You or your support person can ask the Magistrates’ Court to provide a free interpreter to help you understand the legal process.

We can give you information and advice about PSIOs, but we can’t represent you in Court. We can refer you to other legal services for legal representation.

Contact us to book an appointment to discuss your PSIO needs.

We can help you understand PSIOs

Find the legal help you need.

Call us today

Last modified on September 15th, 2022 at 9:56 am

The content on this site is information only and is not legal advice. If you need legal advice please contact us.