Team member Donna Nguyen.

Donna Nguyen - Family Lawyer

Donna is a family law solicitor admitted in the Supreme Court of New South Wales with a double degree in Business and Law. Donna is drawn to family law as…
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Australia has high domestic violence rates, with reporting that approximately 34.2% of Australian women saying they had experienced domestic violence since the age of 15. Rates of violence are 2-5 times higher in Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander families according to the Better Health Channel in Victoria.

Hopefully this article can shed some light on the differences between an AVO and an ADVO as well as give some insight on what you can do if someone is threatening your safety.

Difference Between AVO ADVO

When you’re in an intimate relationship with someone who is threatening your safety you may feel as if you can’t do anything, but you can.

You can report the incident to the police and take out a Court Order commonly referred to as an AVO. You do not have to have been physically harmed for the Court to consider your request for an AVO. If you feel as though you are in danger then the Court may still agree to make the Order if they have reasonable reason to believe that you are in danger.

This article will discuss the different types of AVOs and how you can get one made if you are worried about your safety. It will also talk about the impact of an AVO and how long they last for.

What is an AVO (Apprehended Violence Order)?

An Apprehended Violence Order (AVO) is generally made by the Local Court when you have experienced violence and are concerned about your safety and want protection from further threats or violence.

After the Court has made an AVO, the person who you’ve taken the AVO out against isn’t allowed to stalk, harass or intimidate you. There may be other conditions attached to the AVO such as not drinking alcohol or carrying weapons depending on the conditions in which it was taken out.

If someone is trying to take an AVO out against you then you need to know that it’s not a criminal offence, so it won’t appear on your criminal record. You also should keep in mind that AVOs generally last for 12 months and you will be subject to certain conditions for the lifetime of the AVO. Breaching the conditions may result in a Court appearance and being convicted of a criminal offence.

What is an ADVO (Apprehended Domestic Violence Order)?

When the Court makes an ADVO you cannot contact the person who took out the ADVO. This type of Order can be made when you are in an intimate or domestic relationship with someone.

If you’re Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander then an ADVO can be made against your kin or extended family for example your cousin, aunt, uncle, grandfather, grandmother, grandson or granddaughter.

An AVO or an ADVO will be issued when the Court decides that you (the applicant) has reasonable grounds to fear for your safety or is in danger of experiencing further violence and it is in your best interests for an AVO to be issued.

What is an APVO (Apprehended Personal Violence Order)?

An APVO (Apprehended Personal Violence Order) is an Order made by a Court that prevents an a certain person having any type of contact with you.

How does an Apprehended Violence Order (AVO) work?

An AVO offers AVO legal protection to you if you are worried for your safety either because you have previously been physically assaulted, or because you have been threatened.

When the Local Court has made the AVO you must not make contact with the person who took out the AVO against you unless it is through your lawyer.

All police AVOs come with standard conditions that you aren’t allowed to assault or threaten the person, you can’t stalk, intimidate or harass them and you must not destroy any of their personal belongings.

In some cases, the AVO will come with other conditions.

An AVO is enforceable as soon as the Court has made the Apprehended Violence Order (AVO) or Apprehended Domestic Violence Order (ADVO).

If you breach your AVO then you will need to get legal advice because criminal charges could be laid against you which could restrict your ability to get certain jobs.

If you had an AVO taken out against someone and they have since threatened you, then you need to report the incident to the police as soon as you can. This ensures that criminal charges can be laid and to ensure your safety.

If you’re reading all this and are worried for your safety, then the first step to ensuring your safety is to apply to report the incident to your local Police Station who can apply for an AVO on your behalf. You can also apply for an AVO yourself.

How do I apply for an AVO or ADVO?

If you would like to make an application for an AVO there are certain processes that must be followed before the Court can make an AVO or ADVO.

You should report any incidents against family members or another individual to the police. The police will take a statement from you and consider all the circumstances. You will need to give them detailed information so they can assess the application. Additional information will need to be supplied if you are applying for an ADVO. Details of the required information can be found on the Law Access NSW website.

When you have given the police all the information that they need to assess your application for an AVO you will need to sign the statement. Before you sign the statement, check that all the information that you’ve given is correct. If it isn’t, then you could be charged with a criminal offence of giving false or misleading information.

When you apply for an AVO, the police will consider the evidence and whether there have been previous domestic violence charges made against the defendant. If the police officer determines that you need urgent protection then they will make an interim AVO. Only a senior police officer or the Court can grant a Provisional AVO and only the police can apply for an AVO on their behalf.

After the AVO has been made, a police officer will personally deliver the AVO notice to the defendant. If the police cannot personally deliver the AVO notice then it is possible to get another Court Order made where they will be served another way. The AVO notice will let the defendant know their court date that they must appear to defend the AVO application.

When the police make an AVO application on your behalf then you will be represented by a police prosecutor. The NSW Police will also give you the details of a Domestic Violence Liaison Officer who will support you throughout the process and offer follow up support after the final AVO has been made.

Applying for an AVO in NSW

If you would like to apply for an AVO yourself, you can do so through the Local Court for a private AVO. Before you do so it is recommended that you attend mediation with the person whom you want to take an AVO out against. This may be appropriate in situations where you are dealing with a neighbour or another person you do not live with.

If you make an application to the Court for an AVO you will need to contact the registrar who will help you make your application.

When you apply for an AVO, you will need to supply as much supporting information as possible. This includes the people involved, the incidents where you experienced violence or threats and information of previous efforts to resolve the issue through mediation.

If you make an application for an AVO and it is refused, then you may be ordered to pay the defendant’s court costs. If you are unsure if you should apply for an AVO you should get legal advice. Being legally represented can increase your chances of being successful and your lawyer can inform you on the steps during the AVO process.

When you first apply for an AVO, if your application is approved it will become a Provisional AVO. You will legally be recognised as a Protected Person. This means if the person who you took it out against harasses or stalks you, they will need to appear in Court again.

The AVO process: what happens in Court?

After you’ve decided that you want to take out an AVO you may need to attend Court more than once.

The first Court date will be when the mention is made. In some cases your matter will be finalised at the first mention. In other cases the court proceedings will be adjourned to another date.

Before your first Court hearing date you should prepare your evidence and make your written statements.

The Court will read statements from you and the other person (defendant). You may be required to answer questions at the Court so you should prepare any information prior to the hearing.

After reading all the statements from you and the other person the Court will either agree to make the final AVO or they will dismiss your application. If your application is refused then you could be ordered to pay the legal costs for the court proceedings.

If the AVO is made against your current or former partner and you still have personal belongings at the protected person’s property then you can make an application for a Property Recovery Order. A Property Recovery Order allows you to recover your personal property without breaching the AVO.

After the court hearing you should retain a copy of the Order. If you breach the AVO it will be treated as a criminal law matter and you could be charged with a criminal offence. This may be your first time in trouble with the law and it could be intimidating so you may be unsure on how to respond.

What do I do when served with an ADVO?

If you have been served an Apprehended Domestic Violence Order (ADVO) then it is very important that you do not approach the Protected Person even if you were in a domestic relationship with them. If you approach the protected person then you may be charged with breaching the ADVO.

If you intend to challenge the ADVO then this will mean attending Court to give a statement. It is important that you seek legal advice before the Court date and write to the Court to get an adjournment. This allows you the chance to prepare for the Court hearing where both you and the applicant will give evidence. It is best to challenge an AVO as soon as it is taken out. Not doing so could put you at risk of breaching the AVO.

What are the penalties for breaching an ADVO?

Breaching an ADVO is covered under criminal law and you could be found guilty of a criminal offence. The NSW Crimes (Domestic and Personal Violence) Act 2007 sets out the offence of breaching an AVO.

If you are a protected person and the defendant breaches any of the conditions set out in the AVO then you should contact the police and seek legal advice as soon as you can.

Breaching an AVO gives the police the authority to arrest you and lay criminal charges against you.

The maximum penalty for breaching the conditions of an ADVO is a fine of up to $5,500 and/or 2 years imprisonment. You may want to consider getting the AVO dropped a short time after it has been taken out.

How to get an AVO dropped

Getting an ADVO removed after it has been made is possible under certain circumstances.

The police, the protected person, a parent or guardian of a protected person, the defendant or any other people involved can apply to the court to get an AVO dropped or revoked.

If you are fighting an AVO then it is best that you seek legal advice and are legally represented before your first court date. Your lawyer will talk you through the steps on how to beat an AVO and will cross examine the applicant. It is important to get an AVO dropped because an AVO can wreak havoc on your life.

The impacts of an AVO or ADVO

An AVO can have serious consequences on your life and will restrict you from going to certain places or working in certain industries because of restrictions around working with children.

An AVO will not necessarily stop you from working with children however it will be included in your record when a Working with Children Check is carried out.

The police have a duty of care to the ensure that protected persons are safe and you will need to apply to the Court to have the AVO removed or revoked.

When an ADVO is made against you if you hold a firearms licence it will be automatically revoked and you will need to surrender any legal or prohibited weapons.

If you and your former partner or spouse have a Parenting Order that was made before the ADVO issued, then you will generally still have access to your children however any communication relating to your children must only be made:

  • Through a lawyer.
  • Through mediation, counselling or conciliation.
  • As ordered by the Court about matters relating to your children.
  • As agreed in writing about your children.

If a Parenting arrangement has not been made and is under consideration by the Federal Circuit and Family Court of Australia then they are obliged to consider any family violence matters when making family law decisions related to the children. Any decision made by the Federal Circuit and Family Court of Australia over-rides an AVO. Any Order made by one of these courts must be attached to the ADVO.

In most cases an AVO application is genuine however in some instances they are used as a strategic move in family law proceedings. Sometimes a Provisional AVO will be used as a strategic move in matters related to child custody or other Court Proceedings where it could influence the Court outcome.

Provisional, Interim and Final ADVOs

A Provisional or interim AVO is a Provisional ADVO that is served on you until a final AVO is issued. An interim AVO is temporary and lasts until the matter is fully decided. An interim AVO can be enforced if the defendant breaches the Order. A provisional AVO lasts for 28 days from the date it was approved.

Outside of NSW, courts can issue Intervention Orders which are the interstate equivalent of an AVO.

Under legislation, Intervention orders are automatically recognised and can be enforced in other states other than the one in which they were made. An Intervention Order will come with conditions attached to it and there are penalties for breaching the Order.

Frequently Asked Questions About Apprehended Violence Orders

What is an AVO in Australia?

An AVO in Australia is the equivalent of a restraining order in NZ or a protective order in the USA. The Orders are designed to protect the Protected Person from domestic violence or family violence.

What is an AVO Application?

An AVO Application is an application made to a court for an order that prevents the defendant from having any contact with the protected person.

What are grounds for an AVO?

If you are aged 16 years or over you can apply to the Court if you have been the victim of domestic violence, physical assault, sexual assault or have been threatened and fear for your safety.

How do I get an AVO in NSW?

The police can make an application on your behalf for an AVO if you are experiencing domestic violence or you can make an application to the Local Court. If you are in an intimate relationship with the defendant this does not restrict you from making an AVO.

How long does an AVO last in NSW?

If the Judge has not specified a date on the Order it will last for 12 months.

Is an AVO a criminal record?

An AVO is not a criminal conviction and will not appear on your criminal record.

What happens when you have an AVO?

When you have an AVO or an ADVO you cannot approach the person who took it out against you and if you and must remain a certain distance from them. The AVO may have other conditions attached to it. If you breach any of the AVO conditions such as engaging in certain behaviour like drinking alcohol you could be charged with a domestic violence offence.

If you’re experiencing domestic violence and are worried about your safety, then call the team of expert family lawyers at Unified Lawyers on 1300 667 461.

Team member Donna Nguyen.

Donna Nguyen - Family Lawyer

Donna is a family law solicitor admitted in the Supreme Court of New South Wales with a double degree in Business and Law. Donna is drawn to family law as she is interested in helping clients during a difficult and transitional period following separation. She strives to achieve the best outcome for her clients and has their best interest at the forefront of her advice.

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