It’s an unfortunate part of being a personal injury lawyer in Sydney, but I do see my fair share of victims of domestic violence. These people often feel helpless and it’s up to me to give them a hand. One of the first steps I, and any other lawyers, will do is to suggest an AVO – an Apprehended Violence Order. I realise that not everyone is familiar with what an AVO is so hopefully this blog will clear things up.
Let’s start off with the basics. When you choose to place an AVO against someone it’s because that person makes you fear for your safety because they may be harassing, assaulting, or intimidating you. That AVO will ban the person from harassing, threatening, stalking, intimidating, or assaulting you. Of course, no case is ever the same, so other conditions can be included, which I’ll get into later. Now you know what an AVO does, we’ll get into some of the finer details.
There are actually two types of AVOs: ADVO (Apprehended Domestic Violence Order) and APVO (Apprehended Personal Violence Order). The big difference between these AVOs is the relationship between the two people involved.
ADVO: This type of AVO focuses on the people involved being related to each other, or they are living together, or they are or have been in an intimate relationship. Of course, there are other guidelines as well. If you are Indigenous then it also applies to shared kinship, or the extended family of the other person involved. Also, if you have been in a relationship with the other person that revolves around dependent care (e.g. one of you is a paid carer, or you live in the same residential facility).
APVO: An APVO is one that you’re more likely to associate with newspaper cases about sexual harassment, but it does cover the same grounds as an ADVO. The difference between and APVO and ADVO is that where the ADVO involved close or family relationships, the APVO is for people who aren’t related and haven’t had any sort of close relationships. So an APVO would cover things like neighbours or work colleagues making you fear for your safety.
So now you know what sort of AVO you’re looking for, how do you go about applying for one?
You have two choices in getting an AVO out against someone. Firstly, you can go to the police, and they can make the application for you. Secondly, you can approach your local court and apply by yourself. If you choose the second option, you’ll need to look at hiring a lawyer. However, if you choose to go through the police, the Police Prosecutor will help you.
But what about those extra conditions mentioned earlier?
The basic idea of an AVO is to keep you safe, so sometimes extra conditions need to be made. Some of the more common ones include stopping the person from approaching you or places where you live, work, or go to (a more specific version of this condition is that they can’t approach you or the places you go if they have been drinking or taking illegal drugs), and damaging your property. Of course, as I said earlier, no case is the same, so other conditions can be made as well. But what happens if the person breaks these conditions?
If the person who you took the AVO out against breaks one of the conditions (e.g. you find they’ve been stalking you), because an AVO is a court order they can be charged with a criminal offence. It’s important that if the person does breach any of these conditions that you tell the police as soon as possible. It’s for your own safety.
Now, though an AVO may be made by the court that doesn’t mean that it is set in stone or that it is going to last forever. As a general rule of thumb, an AVO will only last for a certain amount of time but you can ask for an extension before this time is up if you are still fearful of the other person. Also, the Court realises that things can change, so if your circumstances change and you decide that you want to rewrite some of the conditions of the order, or you even want to have it completely cancelled this can be done. However, it’s important to remember that if there are any children involved with the AVO, only the police can apply for it to be changed or cancelled, but if children aren’t a concern, you just need to speak to the Local Court again.
Hopefully this has made everything regarding AVOs crystal-clear for you, and if you find yourself a victim of domestic violence remember that the law is here to protect you – there is nothing more important than your safety.