Under the Family Violence Protection Act 2008 (Vic.) (FVPA) your client can obtain an Intervention Order to protect them from abuse by a family member. ‘Economic abuse’ is recognised as a form of family violence by the FVPA (s. 5) and includes behaviour that is coercive, deceptive or unreasonably controlling and which:
- denies a person economic or financial autonomy;
- involves withholding or the threat of withholding financial support necessary for meeting reasonable living expenses;
- coercing a person to sign a power of attorney, a contract or other legal document.
S. 6 of the FVPA gives further examples of these behaviours, and s. 7 covers the emotional and psychological abuse that accompanies financial abuse.
An Intervention Order can help your client feel supported and more in control and can help prevent further abuse by bringing the perpetrator of family violence to account. With an Intervention Order in place, the police can be called to take action on the breach of a condition of that order.
Although obtaining an Intervention Order is a civil law process, people often perceive it to be like criminal prosecution and may be reluctant to use it for the same reason that they are reluctant to make a criminal report against a family member. Note that breach of an Intervention Order is a criminal offence.