Private AVOs and how to get one

Private AVOs and how to get one

The subject of Apprehended Violence Orders, or Private AVO, is often an emotional one. With so many Australian’s experiencing violence, both inside and outside of the home, it is also a subject that can arise for anyone.

What you may not know is that there are two different kinds of AVOs. We will explore what they are and the differences between them in this article.


What is a Private AVO and what does it do?

An apprehended violence order is an enforceable order of the court. It can have a number of different conditions, but the first and most important condition is an order preventing the person with the AVO from harassing, stalking or assaulting the Person in Need of Protection, or PINOP. They can also prevent someone from attending the PINOP’s home or place of work, from being within a certain distance of the PINOP or from contacting the PINOP at all.

The breach of an AVO is itself a criminal offence, for which you can be jailed for up to two years, fined up to $5,500 or both.

In terms of getting an AVO, either the police can apply on your behalf, or you can make an application on your own. We will explore some of the potential pitfalls further below.


Apprehended Domestic Violence Orders

An Apprehended Domestic Violence Order, or ADVO, can only be granted in circumstances where someone needs protection from another person with whom they have a domestic relationship, usually a spouse, parent or child. It is most common for ADVOs to be sought on someone’s behalf by state police. The police will make a judgment about whether they believe there is an urgent need to protect someone before determining whether to issue a provisional ADVO, without the matter being heard by a court.

This is often appropriate where allegations of violence have been made between people who live in the same household, as the police will err on the side of caution.

An ADVO can also be sought directly by an applicant, by making an application to the court.


Apprehended Personal Violence Orders

An Apprehended Personal Violence Order, or APVO, is identical in all respects to an ADVO, except that an APVO is granted where someone needs protection from another person with whom they do not have a domestic relationship. This could be granted in cases of stalking (where the stalker is not an ex-spouse) or between neighbours where allegations of harassment have been made.

As with ADVOs, an APVO can be sought on your behalf by police, or by you directly by way of a court application.

An APVO will always contain the “mandatory conditions”: that the defendant is prohibited from assaulting, harassing or stalking you or anyone with whom you live. There are other orders that can be appended, including orders that the defendant stay a certain distance from you or your home or be prohibited from contacting you.


Police or personal application

A police AVO application does not require any particular effort on your behalf, except for reporting the incident or incidents to the police. The officers who deal with your matter will determine if a provisional AVO is required and the Police Prosecutor will prosecute your case in court on your behalf. The most you may need to do is give evidence in court, if the matter is defended by the alleged offender.

A personal application is slightly different and carries several risks. For one, you will need to seek out your Local Court Registry, as each registry has slightly different processes for making an AVO application. However, some information will remain the same regardless of the registry. You will need the name of the person you want protection from, their address and date of birth, if available, your relationship with them and what incident or incidents occurred to cause you to seek protection.

You would then need to complete the appropriate forms and file them at the Registry. There will usually be a filing fee associated with this. Finally, you will need to arrange for the application to be served on the defendant. This is usually done by either police or a nominee of the Court. You should ask court staff about the service process when filing your application.

We recommend talking to a solicitor for legal advice before filing and before your first court date, to ensure that you have complied with all of the necessary processes.



A personal AVO application comes with certain risks that you must be aware of before embarking on this course of action. The first and least concerning is that most private AVO applications will be referred to mediation, unless there is a good reason not to. The second is that, if your application is unsuccessful, the defendant can ask for an order that you pay their legal costs. Finally, if your application is found to be false or misleading, that in itself is a criminal offence, punishable by way of a maximum $1,100 fine or 12 months imprisonment.

You should consider carefully whether an AVO is worthwhile and whether you believe you have solid evidence to support your allegations, before making a private application.

If you have questions about AVOs and whether you might need one, contact our team on 1300 749 709.