At least twenty women have been killed in Australia this year by their partners. Many more have experienced physical, psychological or sexual abuse. Most perpetrators are known to their victims.
How can we stop abuse? This is a difficult question – and particularly since family, partners and friends are the main perpetrators.
Apprehended Violence Orders
Nevertheless, those who need protection from violence, threats and harassment can apply for an Apprehended Violence Order (AVO). There are two types of AVO: Domestic (ADVO) and Personal (APVO). ADVOs protect individuals from their spouse, de facto partner, ex-partner, family member, carer, or another person living in the same household. APVOs protect individuals from other persons outside a domestic or family relationship.
AVOs are granted in the NSW Local Court under the Crimes (Domestic and Personal Violence) Act 2007 (the “Act”). In accordance with section 36 of the Act, every AVO will prohibit the defendant from assaulting, threatening, stalking, harassing or intimidating the protected person (or anyone the protected person is in a domestic relationship with). They are also prohibited from destroying or damaging the protected person’s property.
AVOs often include additional conditions. The defendant may be prevented from living at home, or from contacting the protected person. They may be required to keep their distance from the protected person. Orders may also be made in relation to Family Law.
AVOs are made on a Provisional, Interim or Final basis. In urgent situations, short-term Provisional AVOs may be granted before the court hears the matter. Interim orders extend Provisional Orders, or establish protections until a Final AVO is granted. An AVO lasts for 12 months, or for as long as the court deems necessary. If AVO conditions are breached, criminal charges can be brought under section 14 of the Act.
Although AVOs are imperfect (they cannot prevent unexpected attacks), they can reduce domestic and personal violence. In the weeks and months after AVOs are served on defendants, there is generally a “significant reduction” in violence, intimidation and harassment.
For further information about domestic violence, please see the NSW FACS website.
If you, or someone you know, are experiencing domestic or personal violence, please seek help. Call the Domestic Violence hotline on 1800 656 463.
If you need legal advice, then call Martin Bullock Lawyers on 02 9687 9322.