National Domestic and Family Violence
Bench Book

A free digital resource to help judges, legal practitioners and frontline staff navigate domestic and family violence cases. 

Visit the National Domestic and Family Violence Benchbook

About the Bench Book

The National Domestic and Family Violence Bench Book provides a central, national resource for judicial officers who are navigating the complex, sensitive and challenging issues that arise during domestic and family violence related cases. The Bench Book will also interest other legal professionals and service providers who are working with victims and perpetrators of domestic and family violence.  The Bench Book website attracts over 1000 visitors per month.


The Bench Book draws on the depth of knowledge and experience of lawyers, judges, police officers, and case workers around Australia to provide practical help and guidance.   

As there is no single ‘family violence law’ in Australia, a range of legal responses may be applicable in cases where domestic and family violence is involved. Some of these legal responses are federal (such as Family Law) and some are state or territory-based (such as domestic violence protection orders and criminal law). This bench book does not reproduce or interpret the substance of these laws and legal responses, or explain how they vary.


Funded and supported by the Commonwealth Attorney-General’s Department and the Australasian Institute of Judicial Administration, the National Domestic and Family Violence Bench Book, represents a significant nationwide collaboration.

In its review of the legal response to domestic and family violence in Australia, Family Violence – A National Legal Response, published in 2010, the Australian Law Reform Commission and New South Wales Law Reform Commission recommended that a National Domestic and Family Violence Bench Book should be developed. Recommendation 31.2 states:

The Australian, state and territory governments should collaborate with relevant stakeholders to develop and maintain a national bench book on family violence, including sexual assault, having regard to the Commissions’ recommendations in this Report in relation to the content that should be included in such a book.

Consequently this bench book complements efforts under The National Plan to Reduce Violence against Women and their Children 2010 – 2022 by assisting the education and training of judicial officers so as to promote best practice and improve consistency in judicial decision-making and court experiences for victims in cases involving domestic and family violence across Australia.

Lead author

The National Domestic and Family Violence Bench Book was developed with significant input and leadership from Professor Heather Douglas.


Visit the National Domestic and Family Violence Benchbook

Related links

You may also be interested other work by Heather Douglas: