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In times of pandemics and lockdowns, unfortunately the number of cases of domestic violence is growing. Here, our Public Officer, and Lawyer Luana Torres, summarizes what a protective measure ('AVO') is and how to apply for it.


AVO's - Protective Measures

An Apprehended Violence Order ('AVO') is a protective measure intended to protect an individual who is at risk. You do not need to experience physical violence to apply for an AVO.

The court awards AVOs to protect individuals against acts of violence such as physical and non-physical aggression, such as harassment, intimidation, stalking and damage to property (in person or through phone calls, text messages, emails and social media). If the victim has children, the AVO also protects them.  

Criminal charges and protective measures 

When an individual is accused of certain criminal offences, the court must order a provisional AVO, if it is satisfied that the person applying for the AVO has reasonable grounds to fear, and indeed fears, that the accused will commit a infringement of personal violence against her, will either intimidate or harass her for example. The accused must be legally notified of the AVO.

A criminal charge and an AVO perform different functions.

A criminal charge deals with past actions, and penalizes the accused for them, while an AVO provides protection for the future by asserting that the accused is not allowed to do certain things - otherwise, he may be subject to a criminal charge and punished.

It is possible to request an AVO against someone without prosecuting them criminally.

An AVO will not appear on the defendant's criminal record.



Against Domestic Violence Orders ('ADVOs') 

ADVOs are solicited when there is a domestic relationship between the victim and the accused. These measures are recognized and enforceable throughout the Australian territory (each state and territory has different terminology). Apprehended Personal Violence Orders ('APVOs') APVOs protect an individual from someone with whom he or she has no domestic relationship, such as a friend, neighbor or co-worker.


All AVOs contain standard conditions, which prohibit the accused from doing certain things like; assaulting; harass; to threaten; intimidate; or otherwise interfere with the person in need of protection.

The AVO may also include additional conditions.

How do I request an AVO?

You can apply for an AVO through the police; or you can make a private application through your local court or attorney. There is no cost to request an AVO. If the case is urgent, you should contact the police.  

What if the accused violates the AVO?

Violation of an AVO is a criminal act, the maximum penalty being a $5,500 fine and/or 2 years in prison.

Do I need to appear in court? Yes. It is important that you appear in court to obtain information about your case.


If the AVO is requested by the police, the police prosecutor will represent you. At the hearing, generally the parties, including witnesses, testify and are interrogated.

It is important to note that to obtain an AVO, you will need to prove certain facts, and making false statements is a crime. If you make an unsuccessful application in court, you may have to pay the accused's costs. If in doubt, consult an attorney.

Luana Torres is a lawyer, notary public, teacher and civil celebrant in Sydney, and works in the

your office Torres Lawyers.

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