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Are you experiencing domestic violence?

How Legal Aid NSW can help you.

If you are experiencing domestic or family violence, you can get help from Legal Aid NSW. We can help you get protection from the violence and help with other legal advice and information.

How can Legal Aid NSW help me?

You can get free legal advice and assistance at Legal Aid NSW. You may also be able to get a lawyer to represent you in court if you’re eligible.

Legal Aid NSW can help you with:

  • Applications for Apprehended Domestic Violence Orders (ADVOs);
  • Disputes about children, divorce and dividing property;
  • Child support;
  • Children’s Court matters about the care and protection of children;
  • Mediation to help resolve disputes about children or property (Family dispute resolution);
  • Financial problems such as paying the mortgage, credit and debt, and housing;
  • Immigration issues such as residency applications where the marriage or relationship has broken down due to domestic and family violence;
  • Information and referrals about the Victims’ Support Scheme;
  • Representation for defendants in cross applications for ADVOs where the defendant is also a protected person and has experienced domestic or family violence themselves;
  • Representation for defendants in ADVO matters (in certain circumstances);
  • Representation for defendants in domestic violence criminal charge matters.

Phone your nearest Legal Aid NSW office or check the Legal Aid NSW website at www.legalaid.nsw.gov.au for information about the times and locations of our free advice sessions and services provided at court.

Can I get a lawyer to represent me?

Yes. Sometimes Legal Aid NSW can pay a lawyer to represent you, for example if you need ongoing legal help or need to go to court. This is called a grant of legal aid or ‘getting legal aid’.

Not everyone can get legal aid however. Legal Aid NSW prioritises people who are experiencing or at risk of domestic or family violence. It is best to get legal advice before you apply for legal aid.

Can I get legal aid for any type of case?

Legal Aid NSW does not represent people in every type of case. Talk to a Legal Aid NSW lawyer or LawAccess NSW about whether legal aid is available for your situation.

Can I get a lawyer to represent me in my ADVO case?

Most applications for Apprehended Domestic Violence Orders (ADVOs) are made by the police. In these cases the police prosecutor will appear in court and make the application for your protection. You don’t need a lawyer for the ADVO application however you can still speak with a Legal Aid NSW lawyer about other legal issues that might be related to the domestic violence.

If you want to make a private application for an ADVO, Legal Aid NSW may be able to assist you. The Women’s Domestic Violence Court Advocacy Service (WDVCAS) can refer you to a lawyer or help you apply for legal aid. Call 1800 WDVCAS or 1800 938 227.

Can an ADVO defendant get legal aid?

The person an ADVO application is made against is called the defendant. A defendant in an ADVO application can only get a grant of legal aid in exceptional circumstances. More information is available from a local Legal Aid NSW office or from LawAccess NSW on 1300 888 529.


What if I have an AVO and someone else applies for an AVO against me?

This is called a cross application. In these circumstances, you are also a defendant. Cross applications can be complicated and it is important that you get legal advice or contact your local WDVCAS (for women).

You may be able to get a grant of legal aid to defend the cross application, especially where you have experienced domestic or family violence yourself. For more information contact LawAccess NSW on 1300 888 529, Legal Aid NSW or your local WDVCAS.


Will I get a lawyer who works at Legal Aid NSW?

If you qualify for a grant of legal aid, Legal Aid NSW will pay for your lawyer. That lawyer may work for Legal Aid NSW or be a private lawyer paid by Legal Aid NSW.


What is a conflict of interest?

Sometimes a lawyer who works for Legal Aid NSW may not be able to represent you because the other party has been or is currently assisted by a Legal Aid NSW lawyer. This creates a conflict of interest.

A conflict of interest does not mean that you are not eligible for legal aid. If a Legal Aid NSW lawyer is unable to help you because of a conflict of interest, you will be referred to another lawyer who can assist you.


For more information and help

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

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.

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. You can contact your local WDVCAS by calling LawAccess NSW on 1300 888 529 or by visiting the Legal Aid NSW website for a list of local WDVCAS phone numbers.

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

1800 RESPECT or 1800 737 732 – Provides counselling, information and referral. 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).

Domestic Violence Duty Scheme (DVDS) – These are lawyers paid by Legal Aid NSW who have expertise in domestic and family violence. They can help you with an ADVO matter, and provide advice and referrals for other legal issues such as family law, victims support or debt. The DVDS operates in some Local Courts on AVO list days. Call your local WDVCAS or LawAccess NSW on 1300 888 529 for more information.

Domestic Violence Unit, Legal Aid NSW: 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 New South Wales. For more information, call the Legal Aid NSW Domestic Violence Unit on 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.

Mensline: 1300 789 978 - Phone support and referral for male victims and perpetrators of domestic violence. 24 hours, 7 days. Visit www.mensline.org.au. Men requiring legal advice and information can also call LawAccess NSW on 1300 888 529.

Legal Aid NSW Offices


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