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​Apprehended Violence Orders

What is an AVO ?

An AVO is a court order that restricts the behaviour of the person you fear from:

  • physically assaulting, harassing, stalking and/or intimidating you,

  • damaging, or threatening to damage, your property,

  • domestic and family violence.

  • entering, remaining on, or accessing your home or workplace, and/or

  • contacting you directly or through another person.

Other conditions can be put on the AVO if necessary. Orders can also protect persons with whom persons seeking the AVO have a domestic relationship - such as the protected person's children, parents or partner.

The person against whom an AVO is sought or made is usually called the defendant.

Types of Apprehended Violence Order (AVO)

  • Provisional Order(PO):
    Police may take out a Provisional Order if they believe the order will help protect you from suffering personal violence. For more see Local Courts website.

  • Interim AVOs (IAVO):
    IAVOs are made by magistrates at court. These orders are either made during business hours, instead of a Provisional Order, or to protect you between court dates.

  • Apprehended Domestic Violence Order (ADVO):
    An AVO made where the people involved are related, living together or in an intimate relationship, or have been in this situation earlier. This includes carers and others living in the same residential facility .

  • Apprehended Personal Violence Order (APVO):
    An AVO made where the people involved are not related and do not have a domestic or personal relationship, for example, they are neighbours.

How do I get an AVO?

There are a few ways to get an AVO issued:

  • Ask the police to apply for an AVO on your behalf:
    The majority of AVO applications are now commenced by the police. Persons seeking an AVO for 'domestic' violence are generally referred to the police to make the application. In certain circumstances, including domestic violence situations, the police may apply for an AVO on your behalf without your consent if they believe it is in your and/or your children's best interest.

  • Have an AVO issued by visiting a Local Court:
    You will be required to explain the reasons why you wish to seek an AVO against the person. For Apprehended Domestic Violence Orders, you should contact the police to make an application.

  • Use an Advocacy Service. The Women's Domestic Violence Court Advocacy Services is available to help women apply for ADVOs. They can also arrange for a lawyer if you don't have one and explain how the court process works. For more information on this service phone: Domestic Violence Advocacy Service Advice Line: 02 8745 6999 or 1800 810 784

You can also contact LawAccess on 1300 888 529 or visit the Legal Aid NSW website which has brochures about the scheme in many languages.

Community Legal Centres (CLCs) can also provide confidential legal advice and assistance with AVOs.

Do I need a lawyer?

  • If the police have applied for the AVO on your behalf, you do not need a lawyer as the police prosecutor will represent you in court

  • If you have made a private application (attended the local court and applied through the Chamber Registrar) you may either represent yourself or get a lawyer. Legal Aid or the Duty Solicitor at the Local Court or a Community Legal Centre may be able to help you.

What happens when an application for an AVO is made?

An Application Notice is used to apply for an Apprehended Violence Order. It contains the circumstances for the complaint (the reason why you need an AVO), the time, date and location of court, and a list of the conditions that you are seeking.

The application is sent to the police station closest to the defendant (the person you fear) for service where the defendant will receive notice about the AVO application and the court date.

The first court date is called a mention. On this day any one of the following might happen:

  1. Final order may be granted as long as the defendant was served (even if the defendant is not in court)

  2. The matter may be adjourned (put off until another date) for further mention if the defendant was not served

  3. The defendant may disagree with the application. The matter will then go to a hearing so you may have to attend court several times.

An interim order may be granted to give you protection until the hearing.

At a hearing, the magistrate hears your evidence and the defendant's evidence. The magistrate needs to decide if you hold reasonable fear of further violence. The order may be granted or the application may be dismissed. If the application is dismissed, an appeal can be made to the district court.

When does an AVO start and how long will it last?

If the defendant is at court when an AVO is made, the AVO starts immediately.

If the defendant is not at court when an AVO is made, the AVO will not start until they have been given a copy of the AVO by the police. The AVO will last for the period of time set out in the order.

What happens to the defendant once an AVO is issued?

The person the AVO is made against does not have to be charged for you to get an AVO. The person does not get a criminal record or go to gaol unless they do not comply with the conditions of the order.

While the AVO is not a criminal conviction, the person who has been violent towards you may be still be charged with a criminal offence relating to the violence against you

What happens if the defendant disobeys an AVO?

It is a crime to disobey an AVO. If the defendant disobeys any of the orders in the AVO (called a breach of an AVO), the defendant may be arrested and charged. The maximum penalty for disobeying an AVO is 2 years imprisonment and/or a fine of $5,500. Any breach must be proved in a court.

If you are a protected person and the defendant disobeys any of the orders in the AVO, call the police immediately.

Cancelling or changing an AVO

AVOs can be changed or cancelled by applying to the court although this depends on the type of AVO and whether the police applied for the AVO.

Applications to vary or revoke orders relating to children must be applied for by a police officer.

Helpful tips regarding AVOs

  • Keep a diary of all incidents that occur, this can be helpful when evidence is needed.

  • Make copies of the AVO and always carry a copy with you.

Further help and information on AVOs