Apprehended Violence Orders
Can I protect myself from violence or harassment?
If you fear violence or harassment from your husband or partner, you can take steps to protect yourself by applying for a protection order from a local court or a Federal Magistrates Court or a Family Court. The best form of protection order you can get is from the local court. All Apprehended Violence Orders made by the Court prohibit the person who is causing these fears from assaulting, harassing, threatening, stalking or intimidating you. Other conditions can be included.
What is a protection order?
Protection orders (called Apprehended Violence Orders in New South Wales) are orders made under State or Territory laws that provide a quick and flexible method of obtaining legal protection from many forms of violence, for example:
- Physical abuse, e.g. using physical force
- Sexual abuse, e.g. forced sexual activity
- Psychological abuse, e.g. harassment, intimidation
The local courts can make an “Apprehended Violence Order” (called “AVO” for short).
This is a restraining order, which orders the violent person to stay away from you, your home and/or your workplace. As a general rule, an AVO will stop the violent person from continuing to harass you. No one can guarantee that it will work but facing the violence by yourself is very dangerous.
There are two types of Apprehended Violence Order:
1. An Apprehended Domestic Violence Order – used when there is a domestic relationship between you and the other person e.g. partner, relative, house member etc.
2. An Apprehended Personal Violence Order -used when there is a not a domestic relationship between you and the other person – neighbour.
Who can apply?
You can apply for an Apprehended Violence Order against a person if you can show that you fear:
- Physical violence.
- Damage to your property
- Harassment, intimidation or offensive behaviour
- Being stalked.
How to apply
An application can be made to a Local Court by:
- A solicitor, friend, support worker who is authorised by you
- A police officer.
In some cases the police must make the application, for example, for children under 16 years and in certain circumstances involving violence against women.
If you called the police for help, then the police can apply for an AVO for you. The police prosecutor would then go to court to ask the magistrate to give you an AVO. You will still need to go to court to tell the magistrate why you need protection.
How do I get a protection order from the Local Court?
You can apply for your own AVO yourself or the police can apply for you. If you apply yourself, the court staff must, as a matter of law, allow you to make an applicatin for an Apprehended Domestic Violence Order.. You must explain to the chamber magistrate that you are afraid of violence or harassment and tell him or her what has happened that makes you afraid. The application will tell the defendant (the person who is causing fears for your safety) the date and time they have to attend court. The application wil be served on the defendant by the police.
If you need protection straight away, you can ask the chamber magistrate to help you get an interim AVO that will last until the case comes up for hearing.
On the day the violent person comes to court you need to come as well and tell the court why you want the order. You must tell the magistrate in court that you are afraid of the violent person and point to particular acts of violence and/or threats of violence that have happened that make you afraid this person will be violent to you in the future.
The order the magistrate makes will vary depending on your circumstances. Three conditions will always be included. These conditions prohibit the following behaviour:
Assaulting, molesting, harassing, threatening or interfering with the Protected Person;
Intimidating the Protected Person; and
Stalking the Protected Person. Anyone in a domestic relationship with the Protected Person can also be protected by these conditions. This may include your children.
The magistrate can also order that the violent person be prohibited from:
• Approaching the Protected Person
•Approaching or enering places where the Protected Person may live, work or go to;
•Approaching the Protected Person, or places where the Protected Person may be, after drinking alcohol or taking illegal drugs;
•Damaging property; and/or
•Any other conditions as agreed by both parties or decided by the Court.
Women’s Domestic Violence Court Advocacy Services are in many Local Courts to assist women who have experienced or are experiencing domestic violence to get appropriate Orders and to provide information and advice. List of WDVCAS phone numbers
You can also:
Call LawAccess NSW: 1300 888 529
Visit the Law Assist website
The order can be written to suit your situation.
Violence of any kind is a crime and should be reported to the police. The police do not always charge offenders with assault or some other crime. But making the report will help you get your AVO.
Stalking is also a crime and should be reported to the police.
Many police stations now have Domestic Violence Liaison Officers who should be helpful and understanding of your situation.
If police come to your home as a result of violence they are able to get a temporary AVO immediately over the telephone to protect you until you can go to court.
Police may also take any firearms away from the violent person.
If the violent person is on bail for assault or some other crime, you can ask that he be made to report to a police station far away from where you and the children live. It is important to report the violence you suffer to the police.
If you have difficulty with the police contact the Domestic Violence Advocacy Service for assistance. Domestic Violence Advocacy Service
The Domestic Violence Advocacy Service specialises in this area and offers free telephone advice on how to protect yourself and your children.