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An Apprehended Violence Order (AVO) is an order made by a court against a person who makes you fear for your safety. The purpose of an AVO is to protect you from further violence, intimidation or harassment.
All AVOs say that the person you fear (known as the defendant) must not assault, harass, threaten, stalk or intimidate you. The defendant must obey the conditions of the AVO. If the defendant breaches the AVO, they may be charged with a criminal offence.
There are 2 types of AVOs:
1. Apprehended Domestic Violence Order (ADVO)
An ADVO is made where the people involved are in a domestic relationship. A domestic relationship means the people involved are related, living together in the same household, in a current or former intimate relationship, in a dependant care arrangement including foster carers, carers for a person with a disability or disability support workers, or people living in the same residential facility.
In the case of an Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander person, ADVOs can be made where the people involved are part of the kin or extended family of the other person according to cultural kinship systems.
2. Apprehended Personal Violence Order (APVO)
An APVO is made where the people involved are not related and do not have a domestic relationship, for example co-workers or neighbours.
Most AVO applications are made by NSW Police on behalf of the person(s) protected by the AVO.
Alternatively, you can apply for an AVO for your own protection if:
For help and advice about making an application for an AVO you can:
Women’s Domestic Violence Court Advocacy Services (WDVCAS) are locally-based, independent services that provide information, advocacy and referrals to assist women and their children who are or have been experiencing domestic and family violence, with their legal, social and welfare needs. This includes helping women seek protection through an ADVO. There are WDVCAS at all 136 local court locations across NSW.
Phone: 1800 938 227
Law Access NSW is a free government telephone and webchat service that provides legal information, referrals and in some cases, advice for people who have a legal problem in NSW.
Phone: 1300 888 529
TTY Phone: 1300 889 529
Contact information for people who are Deaf, hard of hearing or have a speech impairment are set out on the Law Access NSW website.
Under the Domestic Violence Duty Scheme Legal Aid NSW funds private lawyers to assist women and children experiencing domestic violence in court proceedings. You can find out more through your local WDVCAS or by calling Law Access NSW on the contact details above.
If the police have applied for an AVO on your behalf, you don't need a lawyer as the Police Prosecutor will present the matter in court.
If you have applied for an Apprehended Violence Order 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. Legal aid is available in Apprehended Violence Order matters through Legal Aid NSW.
If you need legal help call LawAccess NSW on 1300 888 529 or you can find your local Legal Aid NSW office.
The police will serve the application on the defendant. The application states the date and time the defendant has to attend court.
If the defendant has been served with the application but does not come to court and does not have a good reason for not attending, the court can make an Order in their absence.
Sometimes the police are not able to serve the defendant with the application by the time you first go to court. If this happens, your case will be adjourned (postponed) to give the police more time to serve the defendant.
You can ask the court to make an Interim (temporary) Order to protect you during the period of the adjournment. The magistrate may need to hear some evidence from you to make an Interim Order.
The court can make an AVO if:
The magistrate can make an AVO if the defendant agrees to the Order being made. The defendant can consent (agree) to the Order being made, without admitting that they have done anything wrong. In this case, your Order will be made that day.
If the defendant does not consent to the AVO, your case will be adjourned (postponed) for the magistrate to make a decision about whether there are grounds to make the Order.
It's important that you ask the court for an Interim (temporary) AVO to protect you until the hearing.
If your matter is adjourned for hearing, you may be told by the magistrate to provide written statements to the court by a certain date. Directions about these statements will be given to you by the court. Your matter will then be "listed for mention" to see if both you and the defendant have followed the court’s directions.
If you (the applicant) have failed to comply with these directions, the application for an AVO may be dismissed, or the court may order you to file any outstanding statements.
If the defendant does not comply with the direction, they may not be able to give any evidence at the hearing.
If neither of you comply with this direction the application for an AVO will be dismissed.
Once you and the defendant have complied with the court’s direction, the matter will be "listed for hearing".
It is important that you attend court for your matter. If you do not attend, the ADVO application may be dismissed.
If the defendant does not attend, the Order may be made in their absence.
The hearing will be based on the evidence contained in the statements unless the court allows additional evidence or evidence to be given verbally.
The applicant (you) presents their case first. The defendant or their solicitor will then have the opportunity to ask you and your witnesses questions about your evidence.
The defendant then has the opportunity to present their case.
You or your lawyer (or the Police Prosecutor in a police application) will be able to ask the defendant and their witnesses questions about their evidence. It is up to the applicant to prove to the magistrate that an AVO should be made.
The defendant does not have to prove than an Order should not be made.
In certain circumstances, the accused person is prohibited from cross-examining a victim-survivor. For more information, please read the changes to cross examination for Domestic Violence complainants fact sheet (PDF, 473.2 KB).
If an AVO is made, 3 conditions will always be included. These conditions prohibit the defendant from the following behaviour:
Extra conditions may be included in the AVO prohibiting the defendant from:
For ADVOs, the court can also make specific orders about contact related to family law and parenting.
If you left your personal property (belongings) with the defendant, or the defendant has left personal property with you, you can get them returned through the court Property Recover Order. The order can only be made at the same time that a Provisional, Interim or Final AVO is made.
A Property Recovery Order sets out how the belongings should be returned. An order may be made about goods like clothes, personal papers and children's toys. The court can order the police to accompany the person recovering property for everyone’s safety.
When an AVO is made, the defendant does not get a criminal conviction or a criminal record. The details of the AVO are kept on a police database and the police will take any firearms in the defendant’s possession or control.
If the defendant has a firearms licence, the licence is automatically revoked (cancelled) for a period of 10 years. If the Order is revoked (cancelled), the defendant can get their firearms licence back only if they are considered to be a fit and proper person to have a firearms licence.
An AVO is a court order. If the defendant breaches (breaks) a condition of the AVO, they may be charged with a criminal offence.
You should keep a copy of your AVO on you at all times and call the police if the defendant breaches any of the conditions listed on it.
Your AVO will last for a certain period of time that is specified on the Order.
The application form for an AVO allows you (the applicant) to tell the court how long you would like the AVO to last and your reasons why. The court will decide how long an AVO will last based on what is necessary to ensure your safety and protection.
If the court does not specify a period, the default period of time that an AVO lasts is:
For more information read the ADVOs Changes to Duration factsheet (PDF, 161.5 KB) about changes to ADVO durations that came into effect on 28 March 2020.
Before the AVO period ends, you can apply for an extension of the Order, as long as you still have a reasonable fear of the defendant.
Yes. If there is a change of circumstances, you can apply to the Local Court or the police to have the Order changed or cancelled. However, only the police can apply to change or cancel an Order if children are named on it.
An exclusion order allows you to remain at home as part of an AVO, and excludes, or removes, the violent person. An exclusion order is one of the conditions which may be applied for in an AVO. It can prohibit the violent person from living in the home of the protected person.
Before applying for an exclusion order, there are a number of questions you should be asking yourself:
A Magistrate can make an exclusion order if it is requested in the application for an AVO. It’s important to discuss this option with a lawyer, court support worker or police officer when applying for an AVO. Sometimes it’s best to get an exclusion order as part of a Provisional Order, which police can apply for following a violent incident.
The Court considers a number of things in deciding whether or not to make an exclusion order. These are:
Domestic and family violence perpetrators can harm, or threaten to harm, animals to intimidate and control victim-survivors. The tactic is used to manipulate victim-survivors during the relationship and after separation as punishment for leaving.
The NSW Government introduced reforms to recognise and better protect against domestic and family violence involving pets which commenced in March 2021. These reforms included:
21 Dec 2022
We acknowledge Aboriginal people as the First Nations Peoples of NSW and pay our respects to Elders past, present, and future.
Informed by lessons of the past, Department of Communities and Justice is improving how we work with Aboriginal people and communities. We listen and learn from the knowledge, strength and resilience of Stolen Generations Survivors, Aboriginal Elders and Aboriginal communities.
You can access our apology to the Stolen Generations.
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