The law offers protection to victims of violence including those suffering from domestic violence.  A victim of violence can make a complaint to police who will lay criminal charges, such as assault, against the alleged offender.  Protection against violence or abuse can be obtained by seeking an Apprehended Violence Order. There are 2 types of order and they are Apprehended Domestic Violence Order (ADVO) or Apprehended Personal Violence Order (APVO).

Victims of violence

Domestic violence is the most common form of violence in Australia.  It is usually defined as physical, emotional, verbal, sexual or economic abuse between people who are, or who were, in an intimate personal relationship, who are relatives, or who share a house.  In the overwhelming majority of cases, it is women who are the victims of domestic violence.

Report to the police

Crimes of violence should be reported to the police, and if the police believe a person has been assaulted, they can charge the alleged offender with assault.  If the charge is proven in court, criminal convictions and punishment will result.  It is up to the police to decide whether or not somebody will be charged and whether or not the matter will go to court.  Only the police prosecutor or the Director of Public Prosecutions can drop charges if they decide there is not enough evidence to convict.

Each police station should have a Domestic Violence Liaison Officer.  When you ring the police station, you can ask to speak to the Shift Supervisor if the Domestic Violence Liaison Officer is not available.

Protection is available if you have been a victim of domestic or other violence.  This violence can take the form of physical violence, threats, harassment, intimidation or someone following you about.  Protection is also available if you fear that any of these things may happen to you.  You, or the police on your behalf, can apply to your Local Court for an Apprehended Violence Order.  Only the police can apply for such an order if you are under 16 years of age.

What are Apprehended Violence Orders?

An Apprehended Violence Order is designed to protect you by placing conditions for a set period of time on the behaviour of the person who is making you afraid.  The person against whom you want an order is called the defendant.

The conditions of an Apprehended Violence Order vary according to your situation.  Most orders will tell the defendant not to assault, threaten, harass, intimidate or follow you around.

Additional conditions could, for example, prevent the defendant from contacting or approaching you, at home or at work.

Having an Apprehended Violence Order made against a person does not give them a criminal record.  However, if they break any of the conditions of the order, the police can arrest and charge them with the offence of breaching an Apprehended Violence Order.

How can you obtain an Apprehended Violence Order?

There are two steps:

  • Firstly, either you – or the police on your behalf – should see the Chamber Magistrate of the nearest Local Court.  The Chamber Magistrate will issue a "complaint and summons" which tells the defendant when to appear in court.  This will be given to the defendant by the police.  It is very important to know that the complaint and summons is not the order – it is an application for the order.
  • Secondly, you have to go to court on the date given in the complaint and summons.  If, in court, the defendant agrees to the order being made, the court will make the order for a specific period.  Typically, orders are made for a period of between 12 months and two years.  You should tell Martin Bullock Lawyers, the police prosecutor or the court how long you want the order for.

If the defendant does not consent to the order being made, you will need to go back to court another day for hearing.  At the hearing the court decides whether or not to make an order after listening to what both sides have to say.  It is helpful to bring to the hearing any witnesses or medical evidence you have available.  If the police applied for the Apprehended Violence Order on your behalf, the police prosecutor will represent you in court.  Otherwise, it is advisable to have Martin Bullock Lawyers represent you in court.

The Domestic Violence Advocacy Service can provide or arrange such representation for you, usually free of charge.  The Legal Aid Commission, community legal centres and Martin Bullock Lawyers can also assist you. 

If you feel the situation is urgent and you need protection before you and the defendant are due to go to court, you need to tell the Chamber Magistrate that you want an interim order to protect you in the meantime.  The Chamber Magistrate cannot issue the interim order but will take you into court so that a Magistrate can hear what you have to say.  Outside court hours, the police can apply for a Telephone Interim Order for your protection.  A Telephone Interim Order can last for up to five working days.  The police can also arrest an alleged offender if there is evidence of an offence.  If the defendant breaches an order, ring the police immediately.

Compensation for injury

If you are injured, either physically or psychologically as a result of an act of violence, then you may be eligible to make a claim for victims compensation.

Remember, if you are a victim of violence, see Martin Bullock Lawyers for advice, we are conveniently located in Parramatta and are very close to the Court precinct in Parramatta.