Apprehended Violence Orders
What is an AVO?
You can get an AVO to protect you against a person who makes you fear for your safety, to protect you from more violence, intimidation or harassment. All AVOs made by the court tell the person who is causing you to fear them not to assault (hit, kick, punch etc.), harass (make lots of calls to you, email or facebook you), threaten (say things to make you fear that you might be hurt), stalk (following you, turn up at your home without being asked to come, annoy you at your work etc.), or intimidate you. Other conditions can be included.
An AVO is not a criminal charge. It is an order for your protection and sets out conditions on what the person can and can’t do. An AVO is not on your criminal record, and is not on the criminal record of the person you are protected from. If that person does something against the AVO (breaching it), then that might be a criminal offence, and can show up on that person’s criminal record.
What conditions can be put in an AVO?
The conditions of an AVO are the things that the Court says that the person that you are afraid of and need protection from (the Defendant) cannot do. If an AVO is made, three conditions always apply (the standard conditions). The Defendant:
Must not assault, molest, harass or threaten you.
Must not intimidate you.
Must not stalk you.
Other conditions can be included. The Court might order that the Defendant is:
stopped from approaching you.
stopped from coming near you after they have been drinking alcohol or taking drugs.
stopped from going near where you live and work.
stopped from being able to talk to you except through a lawyer.
Any other condition which suits the situation.
Does the AVO protect my children and any other people I live with?
Yes. The AVO protects your kids and other members of your family. It does that because it protects people that you are in a “domestic relationship” with. The only part of the AVO that applies to people in a domestic relationship with you are the standard conditions. Other conditions only apply to you.
If you want more protection than the standard conditions for your children or family members then their names must be listed on the AVO as a protected person. If your children are under 16 years of age, only the Police can ask for an order for protection that names your children.
Can the Defendant and I still live together?
Yes. You can have an AVO that protects you but still lets you live together. An AVO that just has the standard conditions in it will allow you to live together.
But, if you have an AVO against your partner that stops them from going where you live, or stops them from approaching you or contacting you, then you will not be able to live together, unless the conditions of the AVO are changed.
If an AVO is made and the person does something they are not allowed to do, they are breaking the AVO. This is called a breach and it is a criminal offence.
If this happens you should report it to the police who will investigate and bring them to court. If the court finds them guilty they may have to pay a fine or go to gaol.
We recommend that you keep a diary of all of the times that the person does something that they are not allowed to do. Your diary should include the date and time it happened and a description of what happened. If you can, write down exactly what was said.
You should then go to the Police to report what has happened. Ask the Police to take a copy of your diary and to give you an “Event Number”.
If you feel like you need to speak to a Police Officer who is a specialist in domestic violence offences, ask to speak to the Domestic Violence Liaison Officer in your local area command.
There are 2 types AVO’s
1- Apprehended Domestic Violence Order (ADVO)
This is made when the people involved are in a domestic relationship. This means you are:
Married or in a relationship In a close personal relationship
Living in the same house
Extended family or kin
2-Apprehended Personal Violence Order (APVO)
This is made for all other relationships. These can include:
People you work with
How do I get an AVO?
There are two ways you can get an AVO:
1. The Police can apply for you
A police application can be made when:
You go to the Police Station OR
After the police have attended an incident OR
You are under 16
You need to give the police as much information as possible.
After the police make the application they will give a copy to the person you are afraid of.
The application will tell that person when they have to go to court. You will also have to go to court on that day.
2. You can apply - go to the Local Court
You can apply at the Local Court by:
Going to the court office and asking for help.
You need to fill out an application and give as much detail as possible.
The Court will arrange for the Police to give a copy to the person you are afraid of.
The application will tell that person when they have to go to court.
You will also have to go to court on that day.
Information to give when applying for an AVO
Name and address of the person you want to be protected from.
How you know the person (eg. husband, partner, family friend).
How long you have known the person.
The names of other people you want protected.
Details of the events that have made you afraid (days, times, what happened).
Any property they have damaged.
Any medical reports or injuries caused by the person you are afraid of.
Do I have to go to court?
Yes. You must go to court.
You may see the person you are afraid of at court but you do not have to speak to them. If you are frightened at Court, you can ask the police for help, or ask for help from the Women’s Domestic Violence Court Advocacy Service. Our courts have a safe area for women to wait.
Do I need a lawyer?
If the police have applied for an AVO for you, you do not need a lawyer as the Police Prosecutor will present the matter in court.
If you have applied for an AVO on your own through the Local Court, it is a good idea to get a lawyer to represent you. You can represent yourself if you want to.
What if I change my mind?
If you no longer fear for your safety, you can withdraw your application. You might need to give reasons why you want to withdraw.
If the police applied for the AVO for you, you may not be able to withdraw if your kids are involved or where they believe the person will be violent towards you.
If you do withdraw and the violence happens again you can come back to court and re-apply. It is a good idea to get advice before withdrawing the application.
How long does an AVO last?
The AVO will last for a period of time decided by the court.
The time period will depend on what the Court thinks is necessary to protect you. It could be 6 months, 12 months or 2 years. Most AVOs last for 12 months.
Before the AVO ends, you can apply to the Court asking that the time of the AVO be extended. You again need to show that you have a reasonable fear of that person.
Protection if you go to a different state
A Protection Order granted in another State or Territory needs to be registered at the nearest police station or Court, so that it is enforceable by that State’s police and courts.
If you have an order made in NSW and you are in another State, take a copy of the AVO with you. Go to the nearest police station or Local or Magistrates Court to have it registered.
Family Violence laws are not the same across Australia. Differences between States and Territories are:
The persons covered by the orders
The length of the order
What can happen to the violent partner if they breach the order
The effects of changing or removing an order.
Disclaimer: This information is a general guide to the law. It should not be relied on as legal advice. If you have a specific legal problem you should consult a lawyer.
It applies to people who live in, or are affected by, the law as it applies in NSW, Australia. The information contained in this publication is current at 1 January 2014.