Children's Court New South Wales

About Apprehended Violence Orders (AVOs)

What is an Apprehended Violence Order (AVO)?

Apprehended Violence Orders are orders that a court makes to protect people. The Children's Court deals with AVO cases where the defendant is under 18 years at the time the application is made.

The person in need of protection is referred to as the protected person, and if they are 18 years or older the AVO also protects any person with whom they have a domestic relationship. The Court must decide that the applicant ‘has reasonable grounds' to fear and in fact fears certain behaviour of the defendant including the commission of a personal violence offence, intimidation or stalking.

AVOs protect people by imposing conditions on the defendant. All AVOs impose a condition on the defendant not to assault, threaten, harass, intimidate, stalk, or destroy or damage property of the protected person for a specific period of time.

AVOs can also have additional orders. For example, orders can be made which prohibit the defendant from contacting the protected person, going within a certain distance of the protected person’s home or work, and destroying or damaging the protected person’s property. Read more about AVOs on LawAccess's AVO pages.

AVOs do not give defendants a criminal record and a person can agree to an AVO being imposed without making any admissions or agreeing with any allegations that have been made. However, the making of an AVO can have other implications for a defendant and legal advice should be obtained before you appear in court.

Who can apply for an AVO?

An application for an AVO can be made by the person who is seeking to be protected by the order or a police officer. Where the person sought to be protected by the order is under the age of 16 years the application must be made by a police officer.

In most cases applications for domestic violence orders are made by the police.

Interim and final AVOs

If the defendant does not consent to the making of an AVO the case will be set down for hearing to allow the judicial officer to determine whether a final order should be made. Interim orders are often made during the adjournment period.

In the Children's Court the police may ask the court to make interim orders for a longer period such as six months to allow the defendant to undertake counselling or to allow the defendant and other persons involved in the case to resolve the issues that led to the making of the application through mediation or other means.

If the AVO is not breached within this time the application may be withdrawn if the police are satisfied that there is no longer a need for an order after consulting with the person who was seeking to be protected by the order.

If the Children's Court makes a final order the order will be in place for a period determined by the Court and this period can be as long as the Court considers necessary to ensure the safety and protection of the protected person.

Breach of AVOs

It is a criminal offence if a defendant fails to comply with the conditions of either an interim or final AVO.

Applying for an AVO

Visit LawAccess for more information about AVOs and applying for an AVO.

Useful links

Need more information? Try LawAccess​, which is a website that can help you if you have a legal problem in NSW and are representing yourself. It explains legal procedures and forms for court and tribunal cases.

Law Access NSW is a free government telephone service that provides legal information, referrals and in some cases, advice for people that have a legal problem in NSW.

Last updated:

08 May 2023

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