Individuals, organisations and government departments may hold a firearm licence for employment and recreational purposes.
To be eligible for a licence, you must:
- be a resident of Victoria or work with firearms in Victoria
- be 18 years and over for an adult licence, or, between 12 and 18 years for a junior licence
- be a fit and proper person
- be a non-prohibited person or have been deemed not to be prohibited by a court
- be able to demonstrate and maintain a genuine reason for needing a firearm licence
- have completed the relevant firearm safety course
Fit and proper persons
The Firearms Act 1996 requires that you must be a 'fit and proper person' to possess, carry, use, acquire or dispose of a firearm. You may not be considered to be fit and proper if you have:
- a history of irresponsible handling of firearms
- been deemed to be a 'prohibited person'
- findings of guilt for crimes of violence
- not proven to be of good character
- a criminal history associated with firearms (eg. armed robbery, assault with a weapon, attempted murder and murder)
- provided false or misleading information to the police in a firearms matter
- a record of physical or mental illness which medical evidence suggests you should be excluded from owning or using firearms
- a record of drug or alcohol misuse which medical advice suggests you should be excluded from owning or using a firearm
- failed to possess sufficient knowledge and competency in the carriage and use of firearms (eg. you have not completed or failed the Victorian Firearms Safety Course)
There may be other criteria that will prevent you from being considered a fit and proper person. Situations that fall outside the above guidelines will be assessed on a case-by-case basis.
Prohibited person status
This information has been developed to assist the public understanding of what a prohibited person is under the Firearms Act 1996 (the Firearms Act).
This advice is general in nature and may be of assistance to you; however, the Licensing and Regulation Division does not guarantee that the information here is wholly appropriate to your circumstances. Anyone needing specific legal advice should consult the Firearms Act or seek independent legal advice.
A prohibited person is someone who must not be issued a firearms licence. A prohibited person will not be allowed to retain a firearms licence or possess, use or carry a firearm.
There does not need to be a formal declaration for someone to be considered a prohibited person; a prohibited person is a status. This means that a person is not declared prohibited person (for example, by a court), they automatically become one if they meet the definition provided in section 3 of the Firearms Act.
There are two scenarios that will make someone a prohibited person.
- being found guilty of specific criminal offences in Victoria or any other Australian State or Territory
- being made the respondent in a final intervention order under the Family Violence Protection Act 2008 or the Personal Safety Intervention Order Act 2010 in Victoria or equivalent legislation in other states and territories
The list of offences that cause a person to be considered prohibited can be found in section 3 of the Firearms Act.
Length of prohibition
How long a person remains prohibited for depends on why they are declared a prohibited person. If a person becomes prohibited because of criminal offending, they may remain prohibited anywhere from 12 months after being found guilty to 15 years after serving a term of imprisonment.
If a person becomes prohibited because they are the respondent in a final intervention order they will remain prohibited for five years after the expiry of the intervention order unless they are deemed to be non-prohibited by a Court.
Intervention orders and prohibition
Interim intervention orders
An interim intervention order is a short-term order made by a magistrate.
A respondent in an interim intervention order is not considered a prohibited person; unless the order contains conditions or rules relating to firearms. Where a firearm condition exists they must be strictly observed.
You may be the respondent in an interim intervention order even if you were not at court or present when the order was made.
Even though as a respondent in an interim order you are not considered a prohibited person, your firearms licence may be suspended or cancelled.
Interim intervention orders remain in place until they expire or a determination on a final order is made.
Final intervention orders
An interim order is a longer term order where a magistrate believes a person needs protecting.
A respondent in a final intervention order is considered a prohibited person for the duration of the order and for five years after the expiry of the order.
You may be the respondent in a final intervention order even if you were not at court or present when the order was made. A prohibited person cannot be issued a firearms licence, allowed to retain a firearms licence or possess, use or carry a firearm.
Respondents in final intervention orders that do not contain conditions cancelling firearms licences, permits or authorities are eligible to make an application to be deemed non-prohibited under section 189 of the Firearms Act 1996.
Respondents in final intervention orders that do contain conditions cancelling firearms licences, permits or authorities are ineligible to make an application to be deemed non-prohibited unless the order is first varied to remove the firearms conditions.
Revoked or expired orders
If you are the respondent in a final intervention order that is revoked or expires, you remain prohibited for five years from the date the order was revoked or expired. For example, if your order was revoked or expired on 1 December 2018, you will remain a prohibited person until 1 December 2023.
So long as your intervention order did not contain firearms conditions, you can make an application under section 189 at any time during your prohibited period.
Intervention orders, both final and interim, can be issued with firearms conditions. These conditions can include the suspension of a firearms licence or the surrender of firearms for the duration of the order.
Firearms conditions must be strictly observed. Application to vary or remove these conditions can only be made at the Court that issued the intervention order and can be opposed by police or affected family members.
Respondents in final intervention orders are not eligible to make a section 189 application to be deemed non-prohibited if their intervention order contains contain conditions cancelling firearms licences, permits or authorities. People in this situation who want to make an application to be deemed non-prohibited would first need to make an application to vary the intervention order to remove the firearms condition before proceeding to lodge a section 189 application.
Under the National Domestic Violence Order Scheme Act 2016 domestic violence orders (DVOs) or intervention orders (IVOs) issued in states or territories other than Victoria are considered the same as orders issued in Victoria. If you are subject to an interstate DVO or IVO you may be considered a prohibited person under the Firearms Act and be ineligible to be issued with a Victorian firearms licence or possess, use or carry firearms in Victoria.
If you are a prohibited person as a result of being subject to an interstate intervention order, you should seek independent legal advice as to the avenues open to you.
Applications to the Court to become non-prohibited
Some prohibited people can apply to the court to be deemed non-prohibited.
Not all prohibited people can apply to the Court to be deemed non-prohibited under the provisions afforded in section 189 of the Firearms Act.
The only prohibited persons who can apply to the Court to be deemed a non-prohibited person are respondents subject to any final intervention order that does not include a condition that cancels a firearm licence, permit or authority; or a person who has been found guilty by an Australian Court in the past 12 months for:
- an offence against the Act where it was possible to receive a term of imprisonment but one was not given
- an offence against any other Act involving the possession or use of firearms where it was possible to receive a term of imprisonment but one was not given
- an indictable offence against any Act where it was possible to receive a term of imprisonment but one was not given
To be deemed non-prohibited you must make an application to the Court under section 189 of the Firearms Act 1996. Section 189 application forms are available from any Victorian Court. When you lodge the application you will be given a hearing date by the Court.
The Licensing and Regulation Division cannot provide these forms to you or provide assistance in completing or lodging these forms.
If you became a prohibited person because of a matter heard in Victoria, your section 189 application form must be lodged at the same level of Court that heard the case that resulted in you being prohibited. For example, if your final intervention order matter was heard at the Magistrates' Court you must lodge your application with the Magistrates' Court.
If you became prohibited as a result of a criminal matter heard in a State or Territory other than Victoria or because of a final intervention order issued in a State or Territory other than Victoria, your section 189 application must be lodged with the Supreme Court of Victoria.
You are required to give the Chief Commissioner 28 days' notice of your application. The Court where you lodged your section 189 application will do that for you by forwarding a copy to the Licensing and Regulation Division.
If your final intervention order includes a condition cancelling your firearms licence, you are not eligible to make a section 189 application. To be eligible to make a section 189 application you will first need to make an application to the Court to vary the final intervention order to have the condition removed.
Once you have lodged your section 189 application, the Court will forward a copy to the Licensing and Regulation Division. In the case where there is an intervention order, Affected Family Members (or Protected Persons) will be interviewed as to whether they oppose the application.
If the Affected Family Members wish to oppose, police will usually support them. In some cases, police will decide to oppose the application even in the absence of Affected Family Member opposition.
If the application is opposed, it will usually be adjourned to a later date and police will file material on which they will rely in opposing the application. Applicants can also be ordered by the Court to file material to support their application.
If the application is not opposed, the Court will usually make a determination at the first hearing.
Court hearings for section 189 applications proceed in a similar way to Court hearings for orders made under the Family Violence Protection Act 2008 or the Personal Safety Intervention Order Act 2010.
If the application is opposed, it will be set down for a contested hearing where the applicant may call witnesses and give evidence to support their application. Police can call witnesses such as affected family members and police members to give evidence opposing the application.
Successful section 189 applications
If your firearms licence was suspended as a result of a final order, so long as there are no other probity issues that concern the Chief Commissioner, the licence may be reinstated and the licence card returned to the licence holder.
If your firearms licence was cancelled prior to the application you will need to apply for a new firearms licence.
Unsuccessful section 189 applications
If your licence was suspended and your section 189 application was unsuccessful, your licence will be cancelled by Licensing and Regulation Division.
You will receive advice by post that your suspended licence has now been cancelled and that you have 28 days to have firearms stored at a police station transferred to a licensed firearm dealer or surrendered for destruction.
You will remain a prohibited person until you make a successful section 189 application or until your prohibition period expires.
For information regarding Firearm Prohibition Orders please see: Firearm Prohibition Orders
Reviewed 20 February 2019