Get help from the police
If you are experiencing technology-facilitated abuse as part of domestic and family violence your local police can help.
Contacting the police
If this is not an emergency call or visit your local police station. You can also call the Police Assistance Line on 131 444.
If you are unsure whether you are experiencing or at risk of technology-facilitated abuse see what are the warning signs?.
You can call the police or visit your local police station to report technology-facilitated abuse, such as online abuse, threats and stalking.
It is helpful to take a supportive friend or family member along when you meet with the police. They can help by taking notes, so you can read over them later.
Make sure you write down the police report or event number, and the name and rank of the officer you speak with in case you need it later. An event number proves that you reported the abuse to the police, even if a police report is not made, and it will be important if you need to report later incidents.
Make sure you get a report or event number before you leave the police station.
Our advice on preparing to go to the police will help you provide the police with useful background information about your case. You can also read our advice on collecting evidence of online abuse.
Ask to speak to a specialist Domestic Violence Officer
When you visit or call your local police station or the Police Assistance Line (131 444), ask to speak to a senior police officer. Also ask if there is a specialist Domestic Violence Officer at your local station or a nearby station. These officers are very experienced at dealing with domestic and family violence issues.
There may be a different kind of specialist police officer you can talk to:
- If you are lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender or intersex (LGBTI) you can ask to speak with a Gay and Lesbian Liaison Officer.
- If you are Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander you can ask to speak to an Aboriginal Liaison Officer.
- If you are from an ethnic or multicultural community you can ask to speak with either an Ethnic Community Liaison Officer or a Multicultural Community Liaison Officer.
Preparing to go to the police
It will be easier for the police to help if you give them as much information as you can. It may be useful to show the police evidence so they can understand exactly what happened. This could include screenshots of any abusive text or chat messages that have been sent to you or other evidence of the abuse. See our advice on collecting evidence for more information on how to document technology-facilitated abuse.
Think about the key points you need to tell the police, and how the evidence fits with that. Each situation is different, and technology-facilitated abuse may be one of a range of abuses that you are experiencing. It is important that it is documented as part of your whole story.
You may also wish to take a lawyer with you when you meet with the police, particularly if you have already approached the police but have not yet received the help you need. See get legal help, which includes information about where you can get legal advice and other options to report technology-facilitated abuse.
How can the police help?
There are laws that cover behaviours like cyberstalking, sending threatening emails, texts, or messages, installing spyware on electronic devices, cyberbullying and sharing intimate images without consent.
Laws are different in each state and territory. Your local police can help you to work out whether there are laws that may apply to the specific type of online abuse you are dealing with.
The Police can help by:
- providing information about the process of applying for a protection orders see below
- supporting you and your family through the court process
- helping you to access other relevant local support services
Even if there are no specific laws the police can use for your case, you can ask them to record your complaint in a report. This means that if the technology-facilitated abuse continues or gets worse, there is a history of your concerns. Remember, to keep your report or event number safe so that you can use it later on if you need to.
You may need legal protection if technology is being used to abuse, control or frighten you. You, or the police on your behalf, can apply for a protection order preventing the abuser from doing things that can include approaching you, contacting you, or monitoring where you go and what you do. The order can also include a condition prohibiting the abuser from publishing or distributing intimate photos or videos of you. Contact your local police to discuss a violence or protection order. A lawyer or legal service can also help you apply for a protection order if you need one. For more information and help to find a lawyer see legal help.
Remember that it is a crime to breach a protection order. Once you have a protection order in place, you should let the police know immediately if you think it is being breached. Make sure you keep a record of any incidents you think are breaches as this may help if evidence is required later.
Protection orders are known by different names in Australian States and Territories:
- Australian Capital Territory — Domestic Violence Orders
- New South Wales — Apprehended Domestic Violence Orders
- Northern Territory — Domestic Violence Orders
- Queensland — Domestic Violence Protection Orders
- South Australia — Intervention Orders
- Tasmania — Family Violence Orders
- Victoria Family — Family Violence Intervention Orders
- Western Australia — Family Violence Restraining Orders
The National Domestic Violence Order Scheme
In November 2017 the National Domestic Violence Order Scheme (NDVOS) was introduced to ensure that domestic and family violence orders are enforceable across Australia, not just within the state or territory in which they were issued.
If a protection order was issued prior to 25 November 2017, it can be registered at any time by applying to any local court in Australia to ensure the victim is protected nationwide. It does not need to be a local court in the state or territory where the order was issued.
If a protection order was issued on or after 25 November 2017, it will be automatically recognised nationally and no further action is required.