The Guides to Social Policy Law is a collection of publications designed to assist decision makers administering social policy law. The information contained in this publication is intended only as a guide to relevant legislation/policy. The information is accurate as at the date listed at the bottom of the page, but may be subject to change. To discuss individual circumstances please contact Services Australia.

1.1.D.235 Domestic & family violence


Domestic and family violence usually refers to threatening, coercive, dominating, controlling or abusive behavior.

Domestic violence usually refers to instances where this kind of behavior occurs between 2 people who have a current or previous intimate relationship. Domestic violence can occur outside of a domestic setting, such as in public and between 2 people who do not live together.

Family violence is usually a broader term that includes abusive behavior within the following relationship types.

  • Relatives
  • Guardians
  • Kinship groups or other family groups recognised by various cultures and communities
  • ‘Family like’ relationships such as carers or support workers

In addition to the above, domestic and family violence may also occur between co-habitants (for example, flat mates), as well as current and former friends.

However, domestic and family violence does NOT usually include cases where there is no significant personal relationship or cohabitation between the affected person and the perpetrator (for example, abuse from strangers).

For more information about definitions of domestic and family violence, please see pages 37-8 of the National Plan to End Violence against Women and Children 2022-2032.


This definition applies where the terms ‘domestic violence’, ‘family violence’ or 'domestic and/or family violence' are used in legislation or policy relating to social security payments. In this document we refer to 'domestic and/or family violence'.

Examples of use of the term 'domestic and/or family violence' in social security legislation and policy include the qualification criteria for CrP, the intent to claim provisions for vulnerable claimants and in the application of the member of a couple (1.1.M.120) provision.

Forms of domestic & family violence

Domestic and/or family violence can involve a number of behaviors including, but not limited to:

  • physical violence, such as causing harm, injury or death to other people or to animals
  • emotional or psychological abuse, such as the use of manipulation tactics, threats of harming the person or other people or to animals, intimidation, humiliation or isolation
  • verbal abuse, such as insults or degrading someone, especially where the intent is to cause emotional harm
  • economic (financial) abuse, such as withholding or control of a person’s money
  • social abuse, such as preventing or restricting contact with friends, family or the community
  • technology abuse, such as recording or sharing intimate images of a person without their consent, installing spyware on a person’s device and tracking them, monitoring online activities or constant texting
  • system abuse, such as manipulating or threatening to use the legal system against a person like Police, Immigration, Child Protection agencies or Services Australia
  • spiritual or cultural abuse, such as denying access to cultural events and/or religious practices
  • causing or threatening damage to property
  • sexual assault and other sexually abusive behavior
  • reproductive abuse, such as manipulating a person not to use birth control or fall pregnant or forcing a person to terminate a pregnancy
  • forced marriages
  • stalking, following or harassment
  • kidnapping or deprivation of liberty
  • neglect where there is a relationship of dependence, such as denying a person’s basic needs including food, housing and essential medical care
  • exposing a child to any of the above behaviors.

Policy reference: SS Guide Qualification for CrP - extreme circumstances (domestic & family violence) forcing departure from home, Qualification for CrP - remaining in the home after removal of family member due to domestic or family violence, Payability of CrP - extreme circumstances (domestic & family violence) forcing departure from home, Payability of CrP - remaining in the home after removal of a family member due to domestic or family violence, Contacting Services Australia about a claim

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