Though commonly associated with violence against women, the term ‘domestic violence’ broadly refers to all interpersonal violence which takes place in a domestic setting. In this sense, domestic violence can occur throughout all family relationships, and may appear in a variety of forms such as intimidation, coercion and emotional, physical and financial abuse.
An Apprehended Violence Order (‘AVO’) is often regarded as one of the most effective mechanisms for dealing with crimes of domestic violence. An AVO acts to restrain the behaviour of the defendant, listing certain activities which the defendant is prohibited from doing.
Under Australian law there are two recognised categories of AVO’s. These include:
- Apprehended Domestic Violence Order (‘ADVO’) – an ADVO is used in circumstances where a domestic relationship exists between the defendant and the applicant.
- Apprehended Personal Violence Order (‘APVO’) – an APVO is used in circumstances where there is no domestic relationship between the defendant and the applicant.
According to section 36 of the Crimes (Domestic and Personal Violence) Act 2007, every AVO must, without exception, include the following mandatory conditions:
a) An order restricting the defendant from assaulting, molesting, harassing, threatening or otherwise interfering with the protected person or a person with whom the protected person has a domestic relationship,
b) An order restricting the defendant from engaging in any other conduct that intimidates the protected person or a person with whom the protected person has a domestic relationship,
c) An order restricting the defendant from stalking the protected person or a person with whom the protected person has a domestic relationship.
Additionally, section 35 of the Act allows the court to impose further conditions upon the defendant.
These conditions can include:
a) An order prohibiting or restricting approaches by the defendant to the protected person,
b) An order restricting access by the defendant to any or all of the following:
i. to any premises occupied by the protected person from time to time or to any specified premises occupied by the protected person,
ii. to any place where the protected person works from time to time or to any specified place of work of the protected person,
iii. to any specified premises or place frequented by the protected person
c) An order restricting the defendant from approaching the protected person, or any such premises or place, within 12 hours of consuming intoxicating liquor or drugs,
d) An order restricting the defendant from possessing firearms,
e) An order restricting the defendant from destroying or deliberately damaging the protected person’s property.
f) An order prohibiting or restricting specified behaviour by the defendant that might affect the protected person.
An application for an AVO may be made in one of two ways. Firstly, the applicant may attend a local court registry, with or without the assistance of a solicitor, and swear an application for an AVO before the Chamber Magistrate. In addition to this, an application for an AVO may also be made as a consequence of an incident involving the police. Here, the police officer may swear an application for an AVO on behalf of the victim.