An AVO is a court order designed to protect someone (the person in need of protection – PINOP) from the violence and abuse or threats of violence and abuse of another person (the defendant). There are two types of AVOs:

  • Apprehended Domestic Violence Orders (ADVO); and 
  • Apprehended Personal Violence Orders (APVO). APVOs are usually made in circumstances involving neighbours or acquaintances, not for domestic and family violence matters. 

An ADVO is given if you have been in a domestic relationship with the perpetrator (e.g. LGBTIQ de facto relationship, intimate partners, flatmates, etc). An ADVO can protect you if your current or ex-partner has hurt, intimidated, harassed or stalked you, damaged your property or you are scared that they will (that is, they have made threats to harm you or your property).

You can get an ADVO that protects you even if you are still living with or in a current relationship with the defendant.

An ADVO protects you in NSW. If you move interstate you should apply to have your ADVO registered in that state or territory. Contact the Safe Relationship Project for assistance or the police in your new location or the local community legal centre in your new location. 

Police Issued Apprehended Domestic Violence Orders

On 18 February 2013 Cabinet approved amendments to the Crimes (Domestic & Personal Violence) Act 2007 to allow for police issued Apprehended Domestic Violence Orders (ADVOs).  The amendments allow police officers at the rank of Sergeant or above to issue provisional ADVOs. 

An application for an order must be made if a police officer investigating the matter concerned suspects or believes that a stalking or intimidation offence, a domestic violence offence or a child and young person abuse offence (but only in relation to a child) has recently been or is being committed, or is imminent, or is likely to be committed, against the person for whose protection an order would be made, or proceedings have been commenced against a person for such an offence against the person in need of protection. 

Where there is good reason to believe an order needs to be made immediately to ensure the safety and protection of the person or to prevent substantial damage to the property of that person, a police officer must make application for a provisional order. 

A police officer who makes or is about to make an application for a provisional order, may direct the person whom with the order is sought to remain at the scene of the incident concerned or in the case where the person has left the scene of the incident, at another place where a police officer locates the person, until the provisional order is made and served. If the person refuses to remain, the police officer may arrest and detain the person at the scene or arrest and take the person to a police station until the provisional order is made and served. 

The advantages of police making application for an AVO include police preparing the application for court, support from police domestic violence liaison officers, police prosecutors and enhanced costs protections. Private applications do not enjoy these benefits and similar resources are not widely available to private applicants except at cost.

Private Application for an ADVO

You can also make a private application for an ADVO. If you haven’t or don’t want to call the police you can make an appointment with the Registrar at your local court to apply. If you would like more information about making a private application for an ADVO contact the Inner City Legal Centre’s Safe Relationships Project or another community legal centre for legal advice and information.

Provisional, Interim and Final ADVOs

If you are in need of protection, the police can obtain a Provisional (temporary) ADVO. It will be in force from when it is served on the defendant. The defendant, the police and you will need to attend court at a date in the future so that the court can decide whether to make an Interim or Final ADVO. 

The police run the matter in court and if the defendant does not agree to the application or there are other reasons for the case to be adjourned (postponed), a court may make an Interim ADVO. An Interim ADVO will be made where the court believes you need temporary protection. It will usually stay in place until the court decides whether to make a Final ADVO. 

Both Provisional ADVOs and Interim ADVOs are temporary ADVOs. They are court orders and enforceable, and a defendant who breaches a Provisional or Interim ADVO can be charged with a criminal offence. 

A magistrate can make a Final ADVO if:

  • the defendant consents;
  • the defendant has been served with the application but does not show up at court; or
  • after hearing evidence the magistrate is satisfied that there are fears for your safety and those fears are reasonable.

A Final ADVO will last for a specified period of time, usually one to two years. The police may be able to apply for an extension of the ADVO before that period ends if you still fear the defendant and the court believes this fear is reasonable in the circumstances.

If there is a change of circumstances, you can apply to the Local Court or the police to have the ADVO’s conditions changed. 

The court will send you a copy of the ADVO. If you do not receive it within 48 hours, contact the court registry and ask them to email or post it to you.