Police & the Legal Response
There are two types of AVOs, an ADVO (Apprehended Domestic Violence Order) and an APVO (Apprehended Personal Violence Order).
An ADVO relates to the protection of a person/s where there is or has been an intimate or spousal or defacto relationship or where the persons are relatives through a family.
An APVO relates to the protection of a person/s where there is no relationship between the parties, eg co-workers, neighbours, a victim of stalking by an unrelated person known or not known to them or in cases of teenage bullying at school.
Both types of AVOs can apply to any person who is or has been the victim of repeated physical assault, threats of physical harm, stalking, intimidation or harassment and has a reasonable fear to believe that this behaviour will continue, has the right to seek protection by an application to a court for an AVO. If the behaviour amounts to a criminal offence, then you should report the matter to the police, whether or not you have a relationship with the perpetrator.
If the matter relates to stalking by any person, you should report the matter to the police for investigation, irrespective of the relationship. In all stalking matters, police have an obligation to investigate and apply for an AVO for your protection.
If the matter relates to neighbourhood disputes or harassment at work and you tried to reconcile the differences through consultation at work or through mediation using the CJC and you still feel the need for the protection of an AVO, you should speak to the Court Registrar at your local Court.
If the matter has involved violence, then you should speak to the police in the first instance.
If the matter involves a perpetrator with whom you have a relationship or is a family member, then you should report the matter to the police. Police will need to record a statement from you of the details of the history and recent incident. Following an assessment of the details, the police may form a belief and suspect that an AVO is necessary to ensure your safety and protection. In these circumstances, police have an obligation to make the application on your behalf.
If the complaint relates to the safety and protection of a child or young person under the age of 16 years of age, police have an obligation to make and application on their behalf, whether it relates to a domestic or personal violence situation.
The making of an application to the courts for an AVO or, in urgent cases, a Telephone Interim Order (available 24 hours 7 days per week) will result in the application being heard in a court to consider the making of a Final Order for an Apprehended Domestic Violence Order.
If police respond to a reported incident and the perpetrator is the subject of a current enforceable Apprehended Violence Order (AVO), police have an obligation to investigate and treat the incident as an allegation of a Breach of the AVO. If sufficient evidence is available to support a conviction for this offence and any associated offence, police will arrest and charge the perpetrator with a Breach of the AVO in addition to any other substantive offence committed at that time.
Can I be Supported at Court?
The Women's Domestic Violence Court Assistance Scheme (WDVCAS) can help women through the court system to get an ADVO. Support Workers in the Scheme will explain all aspects of ADVOs and provide advice on how to stop domestic violence; tell you what will happen in court; go with you to court to support you and tell you about other support agencies that can help you.
There are 33 Schemes located across rural and metropolitan NSW. For details on how to contact the scheme nearest to you, visit the Legal Aid website.
NSW Police through the DVLO work closely with the Court Assistance Scheme Support Workers. Where police have applied for an AVO on your behalf, you will be referred to the local Court Assistance Workers to enable you to receive support and preparation for court.
A brochure, "Domestic Violence Help With Going to Court", is available on the Legal Aid website. This brochure is available in 15 languages.
For further information, go to the Help and Support Resources page of this website.
What is a ‘Domestic Violence Offence’?