Alana's story - fighting the criminalisation of family violence survivors

Alana* lives in constant fear because she is a victim/survivor of extensive family violence perpetrated by her ex-partner. She obtained a Family Violence Intervention Orders (FVIO) for her protection after Alana’s ex-partner repeatedly threatened to kill her and the dog. 

Alana wanted the FVIO extended beyond a duration of two years, but Victoria Police refused the application and withdrew from her case. Alana was also told by the police, who failed to investigate her initial reports about family violence, that she “could have put the bruises there herself.”  

Victoria Police’s decision left Alana unrepresented and with little confidence in their capability or desire to protect her. Alana was forced to take over her own case and successfully obtained a 10-year extension to the FVIO without police support.  

Later, she discovered her ex-partner had been near her residence, in breach of the FVIO, and Alana posted a message in a closed group asking the neighbours to call the police if they saw him again. Her ex-partner found out about the post and filed a report to the police. Victoria Police requested Alana delete the post and she immediately complied.  

This was not enough for her ex-partner. He went to another police station, where Alana had continuously experienced the dismissive and unprofessional treatment, more than two weeks after she complied with the police request to delete the post. The officers applied for an intervention order (IVO) on her ex-partner’s behalf and suggested they would consider stalking charges. Those charges never came to fruition.

Inner Melbourne Community Legal’s Police Accountability Project (PAP) assisted with negotiations and court appearances about the misidentification, and sought to expediate the matter due to the severe impact on Alana’s mental and physical health. The police prosecution eventually advised the IVO would be withdrawn.

Victoria Police later mistakenly reinstated the IVO matter without advising the Police Accountability team. It was not until three weeks later that the police notified our lawyers, and we strongly advocated on Alana’s behalf to secure the immediate withdrawal of the IVO.

The Police Accountability Project also assisted Alana in making a formal police complaint about the numerous duty failures to protect her as a victim/survivor of family violence. Victoria Police investigated the complaint and found Alana’s allegations were unsubstantiated.

The police conduct and mishandling of Alana’s matter severely exacerbated her trauma as a family victim/survivor. Alana said this caused her to lose trust in the police, and their ability to protect her. By assisting Alana we helped prevent her criminalisation and she was able to secure an ongoing Intervention Order. Alana said that this had restored her dignity and that she no longer feels under attack by the police.

*Name has been changed