What is a Protection Order
The Family Violence Act 2018 refers to a ‘child’, which is defined as ‘a person who is under the age of 18 years’. The Oranga Tamariki Act distinguishes between child (tamariki) and young person (rangatahi) so it is important to be aware of this difference in language when engaging with the Police or the Ministry of Justice on family violence matters.
Protection Orders can be granted by the Family Court to help protect the applicant or tamariki of the applicant’s family from violence perpetrated by someone who they are or have been in a family relationship with. Protection Orders protect the at-risk person (referred to as ‘the applicant’) by placing conditions on the person who poses a risk to their safety (referred to as ‘the respondent’).
The applicant for a Protection Order can be an adult or a tamaiti or rangatahi.
The respondent can be an adult (aged 18 or over) or a rangatahi aged 16 or 17.
Receiving a request for information
The Family Court can request 2 types of information under these proceedings. The requests can be about:
- the applicant or the respondent when the applicant is a tamaiti or rangatahi or te tamaiti of an applicant, or
- a rangatahi if they are the respondent.
The types of information requests are:
- Brief written advice — section 65 of Family Violence Act 2018
- Report — section 66 of Family Violence Act 2018
The process for managing these requests is similar to how we manage requests from the Family Court for section 131A advice and section 132 reports under the Care of Children Act 2004.
All requests for information will be sent to the national contact centre by the court.
The report and the documents provided to Oranga Tamariki as part of the referral are the property of the court and are not to be released without seeking advice first from Legal Services.
When the applicant is a tamaiti or rangatahi
Reports provided to the court under section 66 should consider the relationships and dynamics that are impacting on this tamaiti or rangatahi and what has led them to need a Protection Order and how this may keep them safe.
If te tamaiti or rangatahi is under the age of 16 then a representative will have applied for the Protection Order for them.
If the rangatahi is aged 16 or over then they can apply for a Protection Order without a representative.
If te tamaiti or rangatahi is in the care of the chief executive then consult with Legal Services to determine whether a Protection Order or a section 87 Restraining Order under the Oranga Tamariki Act 1989 would be the most appropriate option to protect te tamaiti or rangatahi.
When the respondent is a rangatahi
The court must not make a Protection Order against 16 and 17 year olds unless it is satisfied that the order is justified by special circumstances (section 64). A Protection Order can also include protection from the respondent’s associates, which also has to meet the special circumstances threshold (section 89).
In determining whether a Protection Order against a rangatahi is justified by special circumstances, the court:
- must consider whether to make a report of concern about the wellbeing of te rangatahi — section 15 of the Oranga Tamariki Act 1989
- may appoint a lawyer to represent te rangatahi — under section 166(1)(c) of the Family Violence Act 2018
- may direct the registrar to provide a copy of the application for a Protection Order to the chief executive of Oranga Tamariki — section 66 of the Family Violence Act 2018 (which will then require Oranga Tamariki to provide a report on the application to the court)
- may refer the matter directly for a care and protection family group conference — section 19 of the Oranga Tamariki Act 1989.
Completing the report
The report writer should:
- have experience and knowledge about power and control and the dynamics of family violence, and/or
- seek advice and guidance from family violence experts, where appropriate.
Use the copy of the application, if the court provides it, to scope the extent of the report. Consult with your supervisor about the areas of enquiry required to complete the report.
- including a summary of involvement with Oranga Tamariki — identify, analyse and report on any relevant patterns or trends in the CYRAS history
- identifying and interviewing key people where possible to assess key relationships and how they impact on tamariki or rangatahi — if clarification is required about who to interview, seek advice from the Family Court registrar
- how any violence and trauma has impacted on te tamaiti or rangatahi. This may include considering impact on their own wellbeing, which includes safety, security, connections, health and development. This information may be reflected in:
- school attendance and progress
- any disability needs
- attainment of developmental milestones
- any cultural implications and their place of belonging
- for tamariki who are respondents, criminogenic factors
- the home or community environment and any evidence of family violence.
When concerns are identified
The report writer should not wait for a request from the court to act on concerns, if they identify issues of risk to the wellbeing or safety of any tamaiti or rangatahi they encounter in the course of completing their report. Rather they should inititiate direct action in their own right. This could result in a report of concern or a referral to a family group conference.