Apprehended Violence Orders ('AVO') are designed to deter people from committing future acts of violence and to protect people who might be the victims of that violence. In New South Wales there are two types of AVOs. One is called an Apprehended Domestic Violence Order ('AVDO') and the other is Apprehended Personal Violence Order ('APVO').
The ADVO is aimed at protecting everyone including children who might experience or witness domestic violence and to reduce and prevent violence that might occur between people who are in a domestic relationship. This includes a spouse, de facto partner, ex-partner, family member, carer of person living in the same household.
The APVO is designed to protect people from personal violence including intimidation, harassment and stalking from others they are not in a domestic or family relationship with (and never have been). A neighbour who needs protection from another neighbour would seek an APVO.
Which court has the power to make an Apprehended Violence Order (AVO)?
The Local Court and the Children's Court can make orders for an AVO and decide whether an AVO is necessary.
What does the court consider when choosing to grant an application for an Apprehended Domestic Violence Order or Apprehended Personal Violence Order?
For an ADVO to be made, the court needs to be sure ('on the balance of probabilities') that the person for whom the order is being made ('the protected person') is fearful that the person whom the order is being made against ('the defendant') will commit an act of personal violence, intimidate, or stalk the person seeking protection.
If however the person needing protection is a child, the court doesn't need to be convinced that the child is actually fearful. It will order an AVO in circumstances where an act of personal violence has been committed against the child in the past or it's likely that an act of violence will be committed in the future.
Matters that the court will consider when making an Apprehended Domestic Violence Order
The court's primary concern is the safety and protection of the protected person and any child that is affected by the actions of the defendant. In deciding whether to make an order the court will consider the living arrangements of the protected person and the defendant (and any children involved); the difficulties that the order will make in the lives of the protected person; and the accommodation needs of everyone involved. The court looks at these matters from the perspective of what is the likely impact in the making of an order.
What does 'balance of probabilities' mean?
Generally speaking it means 'more likely than not' and is what is known as the civil burden of proof. It is unlike the criminal burden of proof which is 'beyond a reasonable doubt'.
Who is the 'defendant'?
This is the person against whom the AVO is being made.
What is a 'protected person'?
This is the person being protected by the AVO.
What is the difference between 'interim', 'provisional' and 'final' AVO?
An 'interim' AVO may be made by the Court or Registrar. It has the same effect as a 'final' AVO. A Court has the power to make an interim AVO without the defendant being there or even knowing the order is being made. A Registrar can only make an interim AVO if the defendant and the protected person consent to the AVO.
A police officer may make a request to a Magistrate or Registrar of a court for an 'interim' AVO by way of a telephone call or fax. If the interim AVO is granted it is referred to as a 'provisional AVO'.
A 'final' AVO is the ADVO or APDO made by the Court and remains in force until it expires or is revoked.