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Are you applying for an AVO?

Information for applicants and persons in need of protection.


What is an Apprehended Violence Order?

An Apprehended Violence Order (AVO) is an order made by a court against a person who makes you fear for your safety, to protect you from further violence, intimidation or harassment. All AVOs say that the person you fear (the defendant) must not assault, harass, threaten, stalk, or intimidate you. Other conditions can be included.

The defendant must follow the AVO. You can contact the police to help you apply for an AVO, or you can contact your Local Court or Legal Aid NSW for assistance.

There are two types of AVOs:

  1. Apprehended Domestic Violence Order (ADVO)

    An ADVO is made where the people involved are related, living together or in an intimate relationship, or have previously been in this situation. In the case of Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander people, ADVOs can also be made where the people involved are part of the kin or extended family of the other person. ADVOs are also available to people who are or have been in a dependent care arrangement with another person, including paid and unpaid carers, and to people living in the same residential facility.

ADVOs are now automatically recognised in all Australian states and territories.

  1. 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, they are neighbours or work together.

How do I apply for an Apprehended Violence Order?


You can contact the police and they can apply for an AVO on your behalf. If the police have fears for your safety following an incident, they can apply for a Provisional (temporary) AVO for you. The police will let you know about the AVO and tell you when to come to court.

Alternatively, you can apply on your own at your Local Court:

  • Apprehended Domestic Violence Orders (ADVO) – Court staff must allow you to apply for an ADVO at a Local Court. Legal Aid NSW may be able to assist you with your application.
  • Apprehended Personal Violence Orders (APVO) – An application for an APVO may be refused if the court believes the application is frivolous, vexatious or has no reasonable chance of success. This means if your APVO application is not serious or is deliberately made to cause trouble. The Court may advise you to try mediation.

You should make a note of the Court date given to you at the time you make the application

The police will serve (formally give) the defendant the AVO application. The AVO application will tell the defendant the date and time they must go to court.

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. Legal aid is available for ADVO matters. This means Legal Aid NSW may pay for a lawyer to represent you in your ADVO application.

Lawyers from the Domestic Violence Duty Scheme or the Legal Aid NSW Domestic Violence Unit are available in many Local Courts to provide advice and assistance for ADVO applicants. They can also give advice about other legal issues like family law, housing and Centrelink. For more information contact your local Women’s Domestic Violence Court Advocacy Service (WDVCAS).

You can also contact Legal Aid NSW or LawAccess NSW to get advice and assistance about domestic violence as well as other legal issues.

What happens when I go to court?

If the defendant has been served with the AVO application but does not come to court— and does not have a good reason for not attending—the Court can make an AVO 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 with the application.

You or the police can ask the Court to make an Interim (temporary) AVO to protect you until the next court date. The magistrate may need to hear some evidence from you to make an Interim AVO.

WDVCASs provide assistance at most Local Courts and can give you information before your court date. LawAccess NSW can also give you information about what happens when you go to court for an AVO.

When can the Court make an Apprehended Violence Order?

The Court can make an AVO if:

  • the defendant consents (agrees) to an AVO being made; or
  • after hearing evidence the magistrate is satisfied that there are fears for your safety and those fears are reasonable; or
  • the defendant has been served with the AVO but does not show up at court.

What are Consent Orders?

The magistrate can make an AVO if the defendant consents (agrees) to the AVO being made.

The defendant can consent to the AVO being made without admitting that they have done anything wrong. In this case, your AVO should be made that day.

What happens if the defendant does not consent to the Apprehended Violence Order?

If the defendant does not consent to the AVO, your case will be adjourned (postponed) for a hearing. The Court may decide to make an Interim (temporary) AVO to protect you until the hearing.

A hearing is when the magistrate listens to the evidence and decides if an AVO should be made.

If your matter is adjourned for hearing, you may be told by the magistrate to give written statements to the Court by a certain date. Your matter will usually be listed for mention (another court date) to see if both you and the defendant have done the statements. If the police applied for the AVO for you, they will be preparing the statements.

When both you and the defendant have given the Court your written statements the matter should be listed for a hearing. It is important that you attend court for the hearing. If you do not attend, the AVO application may be dismissed. If the defendant does not attend court, the AVO may be made in their absence.

What happens at a hearing?

The hearing will be based on the evidence in the written statements provided, unless the Court allows additional evidence or evidence to be given verbally. The police may also submit a video or audio recording taken at the time of an incident as evidence. If this happens, the defendant or their lawyer may want to ask you more questions.

The applicant presents their case first. The defendant or their lawyer will then have the opportunity to ask you and your witnesses questions about your evidence.

The defendant then presents 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 magistrate to decide if an AVO should be made.

You can talk to your local WDVCAS if you need to give evidence. Call 1800 WDVCAS (1800 938 227).

What types of conditions can be put in an Apprehended Violence Order?

If an AVO is made, three conditions will always be included. These conditions prohibit (stop) the defendant from:

  • Assaulting or threatening the Protected Person;
  • Stalking, harassing or intimidating the Protected Person;
  • Intentionally or recklessly destroying or damaging any property that belongs to or is in the possession of the Protected Person.

Anyone in a domestic relationship with the Protected Person is also protected by these conditions. This may include their children.

Extra conditions may be included in the AVO prohibiting (stopping) the defendant from:

  • Approaching or contacting the Protected Person;
  • Going near where the Protected Person may live, work or go to;
  • Approaching the Protected Person, or being in their company, after drinking alcohol or taking illegal drugs;
  • Trying to find the Protected Person;
  • Any other conditions the Court thinks are necessary for the safety and protection of the Protected Person.

What is a Property Recovery Order?

If an AVO has been made, and you need to get your personal property, say from the house where the defendant is living, the court can make a Property Recovery Order at the same time as they make the AVO. This should be done on the first date you go to court. A Property Recovery Order allows either you or the defendant to get personal property from a home or other place. The Court can order the police to accompany the person recovering property for everyone’s safety.

What are the consequences of an Apprehended Violence Order being made?

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.

If the defendant has any firearms (guns), the police will seize (take) them. If the defendant has a firearms licence, the licence is automatically cancelled for 10 years. If the AVO 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.

There can also be consequences of an AVO for the defendant if they want to have a security licence or work with children.

What happens if the defendant breaches an Apprehended Violence Order?

An AVO is a court order. If the defendant does something that the AVO says they must not do, they may be charged with a criminal offence. This is called a breach of the AVO.

You should always keep a copy of your AVO with you. If you have children, think about also giving a copy of the AVO to their school. You should make a report to police if the defendant breaches any of the conditions listed on the AVO. For example, if your AVO says that the defendant must not contact you, but they call your mobile phone. This is a breach and you should report this to the police.

How long does an Apprehended Violence Order last?

How long an AVO lasts for is up to the magistrate and depends on the situation.

Can I apply to change the conditions on an Apprehended Violence Order?

Yes. If there is a change of circumstances, you can apply to the Local Court or the police to have the AVO changed or cancelled. This is called a variation. However, if the only Protected Person on the AVO is a child under 16 years old, only the police can apply to change or cancel the AVO.

For more information and help

In an emergency, call the police on 000 or 112 from mobiles.

Women’s Domestic Violence Court Advocacy Services (WDVCAS): 1800 WDVCAS or 1800 938 227 – Information, court advocacy and referral for women in domestic violence situations and assistance with getting an ADVO. .

LawAccess NSW: 1300 888 529 – Legal assistance and referral over the phone to applicants and defendants including assistance with applying for legal aid. Victims of domestic violence are priority customers for advice.

Family & Community Services Domestic Violence Line: 1800 656 463 – Assistance with emergency accommodation and referrals for counselling, heath and legal services. 24 hours, 7 days.

1800 RESPECT or 1800 737 732 – Provides counselling, information and referral. 24 hours, 7 days.

Women’s Legal Service NSW: (02) 8745 6900 or Domestic Violence Legal Advice Line 1800 810 784- Legal advice, assistance, referral and representation for women with a focus on family law, domestic violence and sexual assault.

Domestic Violence Unit, Legal Aid NSW: (02) 9219 6300 - Legal advice, assistance, referral and representation as well as social work support to victims of domestic and family violence

FASS (Family Advocacy and Support Service): - Duty lawyer and social support service at various Family Law Courts in NSW. For more information, please call the Legal Aid NSW Domestic Violence Unit on (02) 9219 6300.

Family Violence Law Help: www.familyviolencelaw.gov.au - A website with easy-to-understand legal information about AVOs, family law and child protection. The information can be translated into different languages.

Link2home: 1800 152 152 - Referrals to homelessness services across NSW. 24 hours, 7 days.

Victims Services: 1800 633 063 - Support and assistance for victims of crime; Aboriginal Contact Line: 1800 019 123 (8am to 6pm, Monday to Friday, except public holidays).

The Justice Journey website contains useful information about the court process for people who have experienced crime.

Other Legal Aid NSW publications about Domestic Violence:

  • So you want the violence to stop (WDVCAS Services)
  • Break your silence stop the violence (ATSI resource for WDCAS services)
  • Are you experiencing domestic violence?
  • Advice about your visa if you have been hurt or harmed by your partner
  • Are you experiencing violence or abuse? (elder abuse)
  • Domestic violence: help at court (WDVCAS services in Easy English)
  • Charmed and Dangerous
  • Family Advocacy and Support Services (FASS) – Do you need legal help and support with domestic violence?

This publication is a general guide to the law. You should not rely on it for legal advice, and we recommend that you talk to a lawyer about your situation.

The information is correct at the time of printing. However it may change. For more information contact LawAccess on: 1300 888 529.

© Legal Aid NSW 2019

August 2019