Helping Women and Children break the cycle of domestic violence...

Domestic Violence

For the purposes of ADVO's, a domestic relationship is where you

  • have been or are married or de facto with the other person
  • have been or be intimate, even if not sexual, with the other person
  • have lived or be living in the same household
  • have lived or be living in the same residential facility,
  • have been or be in a carer relationship
  • have been or be a family member or relative
  • have been or be in a relationship with the other person.
  • In the case of Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander, you must be or have been part of the same extended family, or kin of the other person according to the Indigenous kisnship system of the person's culture.

Sometimes the Police will apply for an AVO on your behalf, if they think you need protection. You can apply for an AVO yourself by going to a local court and explaining why you want an AVO to the Chamber Registrar. Bring any evidence, diary or journal, list of incidents, statuatory declarations by witnesses etc that you have with you, although these aren't always necessary to secure an AVO. You will have to swear an oath or make an affirmation about the truth of your reasons. The Chamber Registrar will then issue a summons requiring the defendant to go to court for the AVO. The summons can be served on the defendant by police. The Chamber Registrar can refuse to issues a summons for an AVO if they believe you're just trying to cause trouble or don't have adequate or reasonable grounds for one. The Chamber Registrar will also take into account whether you might be able to sort things out with mediation.

All AVOs state that defendants may not assault, harass, molest, intimidate, stalk or threaten you. AVOs can also limit whether the defendant is allowed to communicate with you, whether in person or by phone or other means. It can order the defendant not to approach your home, schools, even work places. It can protect you, and also your family, including your children. It can protect your property.

If the defendant has firearms, these will be seized by police. If the defendant has a firearms license, this will be revoked. If alcohol or other drugs are an issue, it can order the defendant to stay away within 12 hours of consuming drugs or alcohol. This is often used where there are fears only when the person is intoxicated. Click the link at the top of the page "AVO Appication Explained" to see an AVO application.

When the Magistrate grants an AVO he or she can also make orders that will help either party get back personal belongings located at premises occupied by the defendant. Property recovery orders require the defendant to allow you access to the premises to collect your property. The orders can also provide for a police officer to go with you to do this. CCDVCAS or your solicitor can assist you in requesting a property recovery order.

AVOs are usually set for 6 months, 12 months or 2 years, but they can be longer. You can apply to have an AVO renewed. This is best done before it expires.

An AVO is not a criminal charge, so you only have to prove that you have reasonable grounds to fear the defendant, and do in fact fear him. You can simply explain your fears to your legal representative, or to the magistrate. It helps if you can bring in reliable witnesses, doctor's certificates, photos, etc. Keeping a diary or record of the incidents with as much detail as possible is really helpful, and respected by the court. If the defendant has left messages on your mobile phone, you can usually take your phone to the police and they will print the messages for you as evidence.

The magistrate will grant an AVO if the defendant (that's the person you're taking the AVO against) consents to the orders, or if the magistrate if convinced that you do in fact fear for your safety, and that there are reasonable grounds for those fears. If the defendant disagrees with the AVO, the Magistrate will adjourn the matter for a later date. This is called a Hearing. If the defendant hasn't been served with the complaint and summons by Police in time, the matter can be adjourned to a later day. You or your legal representative can apply for an Interim AVO in the meantime - see above. If the defendant doesn't appear in court after receiving the summons from the Police, called "ex-parte", the AVO will usually be granted.

Interim Orders provide temporary protection until the AVO matter goes to court. If you are particularly fearful, you can ask for Interim Orders from the police or the Chamber Registrar at your local court. Interim Orders are usually organised by the Police if they fear for your safety, or by the magistrate if the AVO application matter is adjourned to a later date. The Police can apply for an Interim Telephone AVO over the phone if they believe the matter is urgent and there are grave fears for your safety. Telephone Interim Orders come into effect immediately, and last 5 days.

If the defendant is in court when the Interim Orders are made, they will be effective immediately. Otherwise, they will take effect as soon as the Police have given him a copy of the Interim Orders. Interim Orders will last until the court makes a final AVO (if the defendant is in court when the final AVO is made), or the defendant is served by the Police with a copy of a final AVO, or the court cancels the interim AVO, or the AVO application is withdrawn or dismissed.

An Interim Order is just like an AVO. If the defendant disobeys an any of the conditions of an interim order it's a crime, and he can be arrested and charged. The maximum penalty for disobeying an AVO is two years imprisonment and/or a fine of $5,500. You need to tell the Police immediately.


If the defendant disobeys the AVO (usually called a "breach"), it's a crime and he can be convicted and even sent to jail. The maximum penalty for disobeying an AVO is two years imprisonment and/or a fine of $5,500. Police and the Courts take breaches very seriously.  If you have an AVO and the defendant disobeys any of the conditions, you need to tell the police straight away.

To quote the NSW Police website, "he/she will be charged and, depending on the seriousness of the breach, is unlikely to be granted bail. A person convicted of an offence of knowingly breaching an Order must be sentenced to a term of imprisonment if the breach involved an Act of violence, unless the Magistrate finds reasons why they should not be imprisoned." 
NOTE: Even, for example, if you invite the defendant to your house, if he's breaching the conditions of the AVO, it's punishable by law.


It's important to make your AVO work for you. Maybe he just sent a note to say "I love you", or sent you flowers. If he's not allowed to contact you - that's a breach.  

Small breaches usually lead to bigger and more dangerous ones. Make sure you contact police as soon as any breach happens.

Use your AVO to draw
‘a line in the sand’ 
between acceptable and
unacceptable behaviour.


If you find that your circumstances have changed and you need to vary or cancel (called "revoke") an AVO, you can apply to the Chamber Registrar for a variation. You will need to convince him or her that circumstances have changed. The defendant can also apply to vary or revoke an AVO. You will need to appear in court to support your application.

These orders take priority over an AVO, so if you're concerned, seek legal advice prior to appearing for your AVO. The magistrate can change the Parenting Orders himself at the same time so the two orders work together. Make sure he's aware of any Parenting Orders. Talk to your CCDVCAS worker or solicitor.