Family or Domestic Violence Protection Orders

In cases of family or domestic violence, the police or the court can issue orders that may restrict contact between people or impose conditions on their behaviour.

Check your region below to find out about orders that apply in your state or territory.

Differences between states

Northern Territory

Domestic Violence Orders (DVO)

A Domestic Violence Order (DVO) may have conditions that limit when people can make contact with you.  For example, a DVO may say that a person has to stay away from you if they have been drinking but they can come near you or even stay living with you at other times (a ‘contact’ or ‘no harm’ order), or that they are never allowed to come near you (a ‘no contact’ order). A DVO might also say that a person cannot come to where you live, or another address that you feel safe.

A DVO application may be made to a Magistrate by:

  • the victim;
  • a police officer;
  • any child affected by witnessing or experiencing family violence;
  • any other person if permitted by the court. Application forms are available from any branch of the Northern Territory Magistrates Court or online.

For legal advice about getting a DVO, you can contact:

The Court will grant a DVO if satisfied that a person has committed family violence and that they may again commit family violence.

In making a DVO, the Court must consider the following matters:

  • the safety and interests of the victim and any affected child;
  • contact between the victim and the alleged offender and any child who is a member of the family; or
  • whether there are any relevant Family Court Orders in place.

The court may make a temporary domestic violence order (interim order) until the application can be fully considered.

Changing or extending your DVO

If the Court decides to make a DVO, it will remain in force for such period as the Court considers necessary to ensure the safety and interests of the victim or until an application is made to revoke the DVO. The length of a DVO is usually 12 months.

Sometimes people need to change the terms of their DVO. This could be for many reasons such as allowing contact between a parent and their children or because the parties have reconciled and a party removed from the home by an order wishes to return. Sometimes a protected person may want to increase their level of protection, perhaps by varying a non-harm order to a full non-contact order.

An application to vary, extend or revoke a DVO may be made to a court at any time.

The Court must consider the safety and interests of the victim and children and if there has been a substantial change in the circumstances since the order was made.

Police Domestic Violence Orders (PDVO)

A police officer may issue a Police Domestic Violence Order (PDVO) against a person if satisfied that the person has committed, or is likely to commit, a domestic or family violence offence.

A PDVO will be revoked if a DVO or interim DVO is issued in respect of the same parties.

Changing your PDVO

You can apply to the court to vary the conditions of your PDVO. Because the police made the order in the first place, they get to have a say about whether the order should be varied. When a Magistrate is deciding whether to change the order, some of the things they will consider are whether the police agree, whether the parties to the order agree, and whether the variation will affect the safety and interests of the victim or any affected child.

DVO and PDVO Conditions

DVOs and PDVOs have specific conditions. Depending on the circumstances, the following conditions can be part of a DVO or PDVO:

  • not approach or contact an affected person or child;
  • not to go where the protected person is living, working or visiting;
  • not to have any contact with the protected person when the defendant is under the influence of drugs or alcohol;
  • surrender any firearm or weapon;
  • refrain from harassing, threatening, verbally abusing or assaulting an affected person or child;
  • not damage any property belonging to the protected person; or
  • not request that a third party undertake any of these actions against the protected person.

DVO and PDVO Breaches

If a person does not comply with the conditions imposed by the DVO or PDVO, they can be arrested and charged for the breach. Serious penalties can apply such as imprisonment or a fine depending on the severity of the breach and the offender’s history of breaching. In some cases, a mandatory term of imprisonment may apply.

If you are protected by a DVO or PDVO you cannot consent to a breach. You also need to be careful not to initiate a breach.

For example, if the DVO says that the alleged offender is not allowed near your home, you cannot invite them over. If the DVO says they cannot call you, you cannot call them. If you did make the phone call you can be charged for inciting a breach. The offender may also be charged for breaching the DVO.

If you have a DVO against someone, and they breach that DVO, then you should call and report the breach to the police.

ACT

Domestic Violence Orders (DVO)

In the ACT, if you experience domestic violence, you can apply for a Domestic Violence Order (DVO). A DVO is a type of Protection Order.

A DVO is a civil proceeding, not a criminal proceeding.  The person who has the Order against them does not have a criminal record.  However if there is a breach of the DVO, there may be criminal proceedings.

Applying for a DVO

A DVO application may be made to a Magistrate by:

  • the victim;
  • a police officer; or
  • any other person if permitted by the court.

Application forms are available from the ACT Magistrates Court or online.  You can also get advice from the Legal Aid Domestic Violence and Personal Protection Order Unit located at the Magistrates Court.

The application process is set out on the website of the Domestic Violence Crisis Service.

In making a DVO, the Court must consider the following matters:

  • whether a person has committed domestic violence;
  • why an order is needed to ensure the safety and interests of the victim and any affected child;
  • contact between the victim and the alleged offender and any child who is a member of the family; or
  • whether there are any relevant Family Court Orders in place.

If the Magistrate agrees that it is necessary to ensure your safety leading up to the final hearing, a temporary DVO (interim order) can be made on the day of your application which is in force until the application can be fully considered.

Changing or extending your DVO

If the Court decides to make a DVO it will remain in force for such period as the Court considers necessary to ensure the safety and interests of the victim or until an application is made to revoke the DVO. The length of a DVO can be up to two years.

Sometimes people need to change the terms of their DVO. This could be for many reasons such as allowing contact between a parent and their children or because the parties have reconciled and a party removed from the home by an order wishes to return.

An application to vary or revoke a DVO may be made to a court at any time.  If you need to extend your DVO you must make the application at least 21 days before it expires.

Emergency Order

An Emergency Order is a type of DVO which only the police can apply for. Emergency Orders are normally only considered outside of normal court hours.  An Emergency Order will be granted if there are reasonable grounds to believe that a person will physically harm you, your child or substantially damage property. An emergency order will only last up to two days.

DVO and Emergency Order Conditions

DVOs and Emergency Orders have specific conditions. Depending on the circumstances the following conditions can be part of a DVO or Emergency Order:

  • requiring a person to vacate any premises;
  • not enter any premises;
  • surrender any firearm or weapon;
  • refrain from harassing, threatening, verbally abusing or assaulting an affected person or child; and
  • not approach or contact an affected person or child

DVO and Emergency Order Breaches

If a person does not comply with the conditions imposed by the DVO or Emergency Order they can be arrested and charged for the breach. Serious penalties can apply such as imprisonment or a fine depending on the severity of the breach and the offender’s history of breaching.

If you are protected by a DVO or Emergency Order, you cannot consent to a breach. You also need to be careful not to initiate a breach.

For example, if the DVO says that the alleged offender is not allowed near your home, you cannot invite them over. If the DVO says they cannot call you, you cannot call them. If you did make the phone call you can be charged for aiding and abetting or inciting a breach. The offender may also be charged for breaching the DVO.

Western Australia

Police Orders & Violence Restraining Orders (VRO)

Police may make an on the spot restraining order called a Police Order in situations of family and domestic violence. A Police Order may be made for up to 72 hours. A 72 hour order lapses if it is not served within 24 hours. If you want an ongoing Violence Restraining Order (VRO) you will have to apply to the court yourself or ask the police whether they can apply for you.

A police officer can make an order to include whatever restrictions they think are required. These can include an order that restrains a person from:

  • being on or near premises where a person lives or works;
  • approaching within a specified distance of another person;
  • causing or allowing another person to engage in the conduct above.

A police officer cannot make a Police Order against a child that might affect the care and wellbeing of a child, unless they are satisfied that appropriate arrangements have been made for their care and wellbeing.

If the Police Order has a condition allowing for the collection of property from the protected person’s residence in the presence of a police officer, they can ring 131 444 (Police Assistance Centre). Their request will be put on hold until the police can contact you and arrange a time convenient to you and the police for the person bound by the Police Order to collect their property in the presence of a police officer.

If family violence has led to the offender being charged with a criminal offence and appearing in court, they may plead guilty and have their matters finalised on the day. If you or your children still require protection after that day, you may apply for a VRO.

If the offender pleads not guilty or has to come back to court again, the police can ask for protective bail conditions to remain in place until the court matters are finalised.

You may apply for a VRO to be issued at any time you experience family violence, regardless of whether the offender has been charged. This may provide extra protection for you and your children if the police cannot assist you.

A child in a family and domestic relationship with the respondent can also apply for a VRO. The court may also choose to extend an order for a person protected in circumstances of family and domestic violence so that it also covers a child who is likely to be “exposed” to an act of abuse. “Exposed” means to see or hear an act of abuse or to see physical injuries resulting from an act of abuse.

NSW

Apprehended Violence Orders (AVO)

If police believe that domestic violence has occurred, they can lay charges as well as make and serve an application for an Apprehended Violence Order (AVO) on the defendant.

Applying for an AVO

You can contact the police to report domestic violence and they can make the application for an AVO for you. You can also make an application on your own at your Local Court. You should keep a record of the court date given to you at the time you make the application.

The application will tell the defendant the date and time they have to attend court. The application will be served on the defendant by police.

If the police have applied for an AVO on your behalf, you do not need a lawyer as the Police Prosecutor will present the matter in court. If you have applied for an AVO on your own through the Local Court, it is a good idea to get a lawyer to represent you. You can also represent yourself.

There are Women’s Domestic Violence Court Advocacy Services available at most courts in NSW to assist you at court and in some cases to help with legal representation. You can contact Legal Aid for more information.

The Local Court of NSW has more information about applying for an AVO and the court process. You can also get help from LawAssist or Legal Aid, or Women’s Legal Service NSW.

When the court can make an AVO

The court can make an AVO if:

  • the defendant consents to an AVO being made; or
  • after hearing evidence the magistrate is satisfied that there are fears for your safety and those fears are reasonable.

Interim Orders and Hearings

You can ask the court for an interim (temporary) AVO to protect you until the hearing.

If your matter is adjourned for hearing, you may be required to supply written statements to the court by a certain date. The court will usually give a direction that you and the defendant file written statements by a certain date.

Once both you and the defendant have complied with the court’s direction the matter will be listed for hearing. It is important that you attend court for your matter. If you do not attend the application may be dismissed. If the defendant does not attend, the Order may be made in their absence.

Types of conditions that can be put in an AVO

If an Order is made, three mandatory conditions will always be included. These conditions prohibit the following behaviour:

  • assaulting, molesting, harassing, threatening or interfering with the protected person;
  • intimidating the protected person; and
  • stalking the protected person.

Anyone in a domestic relationship with the protected person is also protected by these mandatory conditions, including your children. In addition, specific people can be named on the AVO, in which case they are also protected by the extra conditions (see below).

Extra conditions may be included in the Order prohibiting the defendant from:

  • approaching the protected person;
  • approaching or entering places where the protected person may live, work or go to;
  • approaching the protected person, or places where the protected person may be, after drinking alcohol or taking illegal drugs;
  • damaging property; and/or
  • any other conditions as agreed by both parties or decided by the court.

Property Recovery Orders

At the time of making an AVO, the Court can also make a Property Recovery Order which allows you to retrieve your personal property. You should ask for this order at the first Court date. The police can accompany the person recovering property for everyone’s safety.

Consequences of an AVO being made

Once an AVO is made, the defendant does not get a criminal conviction or a criminal record. The details of the AVO are kept on a police database. The police will seize any firearms in the defendant’s possession or control.

Breaching an AVO

If the defendant breaches a condition of the Order, they may be arrested and charged with a criminal offence. You should keep a copy of your AVO on you at all times and call the police if the defendant breaches any of the conditions.

Timeframe for AVO

Your AVO will last for a certain period of time, for example, 12 months. Before that period ends, you can apply for an extension of the Order, as long as you still have a reasonable fear of the defendant.

Changing the conditions on an AVO

If there is a change of circumstances, you can apply to the Local Court or the police to have the Order changed or cancelled.

However, only the police can apply to change or cancel an Order if children are named on it.

Victoria

Family Violence Intervention Order (FVIO)

A Family Violence Intervention Order (FVIO) is an order usually made by the Magistrates Court that places restrictions on individual’s behaviour in relation to another family member.

A FVIO may have the following clauses that define and restrict how family members may interact with each other while a FVIO is in place.

A FVIO may prevent the respondent from:

  • committing family violence against a family member;
  • damaging the property of a family member;
  • following or keeping a family member under surveillance;
  • contacting or communicating with a family member;
  • going near or to a family members’ home, work place, school or where their children attend school or childcare;
  • getting someone else to do things for the respondent that the respondent is not allowed to do
  • revoke or suspend a weapons approval
  • cancel or suspend the respondent’s firearms authority

Sometimes and FVIO may have all of these clauses in place and other times it may only have a few of the clauses in place. You can have a FVIO and still live in the same home as the respondent and see and spend time with the respondent if the FVIO does not prevent them from coming to your home.

Applying for a FVIO

You can apply (with special permission from the court if you are 14 years or older)  at your local Magistrates Court in Victoria. Check out this link for a list of the local Magistrates Courts in Victoria.

If you are applying for a family violence intervention order on your own behalf, you can find a link to the application form here.

The Magistrates Court also has some useful information about family violence intervention orders.

Sometimes the police may make an application for an intervention order which names you as the person to be protected. Or, if the police attend a family violence incident outside of business hours, they may apply for a family violence safety notice that names you as a protected person.

Changing or extending your FVIO

An FVIO is an important court document and must be followed. If your circumstances change, you may need to change your FVIO conditions.  If you want to change something on your FVIO, you must do this through the Magistrates Court. To make a change to your FVIO you must make an application to vary your FVIO and then take it to the Magistrates Court.

The application form to vary your FVIO can be found here.

Once you have completed your application form you must file it with your local Magistrates Court. You may need to call them to make an appointment at the Court before you go there to file your application to vary your FVIO.

If your FVIO will expire soon, you may need to make an application to the court to extend the length of your FVIO. If you need to make an application to extend your FVIO you must make your application with the Magistrates Court well before the FVIO is going to expire. To extend an FVIO you must complete the application form and then take it to the Magistrates Court.

The application form to extend your FVIO can be found here.

Once you have completed your application form you must file it with your local Magistrates Court. You may need to call them to make an appointment at the Court before you go there to file your application to extend your FVIO.

The application form to vary or extend your FVIO is the same form. When you complete your application form, make sure you clearly indicate whether you are applying to vary or extend your FVIO.

Family Violence Safety Notices (FVSN)

If the police are called out to a FV incident outside of business hours, they can apply for a Family Violence Safety Notice (FVSN). A FVSN acts like an after hours Intervention Order application that the police can issue. A FVSN can have clauses  and can remove a respondent from the home. You will either be named on the FVSN as the person the FVSN is trying to protect or the respondent. If the police issue a FVSN the parties will still need to attend court.

Breaches of FVIO

A breach of a FVIO is a criminal offence. All breaches of a FVIO should be reported to the police. The police will then investigate the breach and decide whether or not they will charge the respondent.

If someone is charged and convicted for a breach of a FVIO, the penalties can be a large fine or jail time.

For further information or support you can contact:

Women’s Legal Service Victoria

Victoria Legal Aid

Youth Law

South Australia

Intervention Orders

Intervention Orders provide quick methods of obtaining legal protection from many forms of violence including:

  • physical abuse
  • sexual abuse
  • psychological abuse

Applying for an Intervention Order

The grounds for issuing an Intervention Order is if there are reasonable grounds to believe that without intervention, the perpetrator will commit an act of abuse against a person.

An Intervention Order may be issued for the protection of any person against who it is suspected the perpetrator will commit an act of abuse, or for the protection of any child who may hear or witness or be exposed to the effects of abuse.

An application can be made to the Magistrates Court by:

  • you;
  • a solicitor, friend, support worker who is authorised by you;
  • a police officer- called an interim intervention order.

Once an application is lodged, a hearing will be held quickly. If the order is granted, it is not effective until it is served on the person you have taken the order against. Another hearing is then held to allow this person to oppose the order.

Police Intervention Orders

If the police are called to attend a domestic violence incident where a person has committed a criminal offence or has made threats to commit a criminal offence, then the police may be able to issue an interim intervention order called a Police Intervention Order.

A Police Intervention Order starts operating immediately once the defendant has been notified.

Applying for a Police Intervention Order

You can apply for an Intervention Order at your local police station or by a private application to the Magistrates Court. An application Form 28 is available from the court.

For a Police Intervention Order, a statement will be taken from you.

Intervention Order Conditions

An order can stop someone:

  • approaching you or family members at your home or any place;
  • contacting, harassing, threatening or intimidating you or any other person at a place where you live or work;
  • communicating with you in any way;
  • publishing any material about you;
  • assaulting, harassing, threatening or intimidating you; or
  • damaging property.

You can also get a tenancy order, which allows you to remain in the home.

Where to go for help and support

Legal Services Commission Domestic Violence Unit– A worker who specialises in domestic violence is available to assist victims with legal matters where domestic violence is a factor.  Appointments can be made by calling 08 8463 3555 or 1300 366 424. This service is free of charge.

You can also call Women’s Legal Service South Australia on 08 8221 5553.

Tasmania

Family Violence Orders (FVO)

A Family Violence Order (FVO) is a Court Order that may restrict contact between people or impose conditions on their behaviour.

Applying for a FVO

An FVO application may be made to a Magistrate by:

  • the victim;
  • a police officer;
  • any child affected by witnessing or experiencing family violence; or
  • any other person if permitted by the court.

Application forms are available from the Magistrates Court of Tasmania or on their website. You can also ask to see a Safe at Home lawyer at Legal Aid or contact Women’s Legal Service Tasmania.

The Court will grant a FVO if they are satisfied that a person has committed family violence, and that they may again commit family violence.

In making an FVO, the Court must consider the following matters:

  • the safety and interests of the victim and any affected child;
  • contact between the victim and the alleged offender and any child who is a member of the family; or
  • whether there are any relevant Family Court Orders in place.

The court may make a temporary FVO, called an interim order, until the application can be fully considered.

Changing or extending your FVO

If the Court decides to make an FVO, it will remain in force for such period as the Court considers necessary to ensure the safety and interests of the victim or until an application is made to revoke the FVO. An FVO is generally in place for 12 months.

Sometimes people need to change the terms of their FVO. This could be for many reasons such as allowing contact between a parent and their children or because the parties have reconciled and a party removed from the home by an order wishes to return.

An application to vary, extend or revoke an FVO may be made to a Court at any time.

The Court must consider the safety and interests of the victim and children and if there has been a substantial change in the circumstances since the order was made.

Police Family Violence Orders (PFVO)

A police officer may issue a Police Family Violence Order (PFVO) against a person if satisfied that the person has committed, or is likely to commit, a family violence offence. A PFVO lasts for 12 months.

A PFVO will be revoked if an FVO or an interim FVO is issued in for the same parties.

Changing your PFVO

A police officer of the rank of inspector or above may vary a PFVO where:

  • the victim and the alleged offender consent to the variation; and
  • the variation will not affect the safety and interests of the victim or any affected child.

If the police are unable to vary the PFVO, a court may vary, extend or revoke a PFVO at any time on application.

FVO and PFVO Conditions

FVOs and PFVOs have specific conditions. Depending on the circumstances the following conditions can be part of a FVO or PFVO:

  • requiring a person to vacate any premises;
  • not enter any premises;
  • surrender any firearm or weapon;
  • refrain from harassing, threatening, verbally abusing or assaulting an affected person or child; or
  • not approach or contact an affected person or child

An FVO can also include a condition that the victim or alleged offender’s name can be removed from a residential lease.

FVO and PFVO Breaches

If a person does not comply with the conditions imposed by the FVO or PFVO, they can be arrested and charged for the breach. Serious penalties can apply such as imprisonment or a fine depending on the severity of the breach and the offender’s history of breaching.

If you are protected by a FVO or PFVO you cannot consent to a breach. You also need to be careful not to initiate a breach.

For example, if the FVO says that the alleged offender is not allowed near your home, you cannot invite them over. If the FVO says they cannot call you, you cannot call them. If you did make the phone call you can be charged for inciting a breach. The offender may also be charged for breaching the FVO.

Queensland

Domestic Violence Orders (DVO)

A Domestic Violence Order (DVO), also known as a Protection Order, is a Court Order that may restrict contact between people or impose conditions on their behaviour.

A DVO takes effect on the day that it is made.

Types of DVOs

There are two types of DVOs:

  • Temporary Protection Orders – Temporary Protection Orders are temporary. They may be granted without the presence of the party who is to be restrained. The Temporary Protection Order will be in force until the next hearing stage or for a set period of time. The person to be restrained must have committed domestic violence against the victim.
  • Protection Orders – Protection Orders are orders made after a Magistrate hears the application. The orders may be consented to by both parties (without admitting to the allegations contained in the application or response to the application) or a Magistrate can decide the orders that should be made. A Protection Order will be in place for such period of time as consented to or ordered. This is usually two years, but can be shorter or longer.

Applying for a DVO

A Domestic Violence Order (DVO) application may be made to a Magistrate by:

  • the victim;
  • an adult authorised by the victim to appear on his or her behalf;
  • a police officer; or
  • any other person who is authorised by law to do so.

Application forms are available from the Magistrates Court of Queensland or online at the Queensland Courts website. You can seek assistance from the Women’s Domestic Violence Court Assistance Service at Legal Aid or contact Women’s Legal Service Queensland.

The Court may grant a DVO if satisfied that a person has committed domestic violence and that the DVO is necessary or desirable to protect the victim from domestic violence.

In making a DVO, the Court must consider the following matters:

  • the safety, protection and wellbeing of the victim and any affected child;
  • holding perpetrators of domestic violence accountable;
  • characteristics that may make a person particularly vulnerable to domestic violence; and
  • whether a voluntary intervention order has previously been made and whether the person has complied with that order.

The court may make a temporary DVO (called an interim order) until the application for a DVO can be fully considered.

Changing or extending your DVO

If the Court decides to make a DVO it will remain in force for such period as the Court considers necessary to ensure the safety and interests of the victim or until an application is made to revoke the DVO. The length of an DVO is generally two years.

Sometimes people need to change the terms of their DVO. This could be for many reasons such as allowing contact between a parent and their children or because the parties have reconciled and a party removed from the home by an order wishes to return.

An application to vary, extend or revoke a DVO may be made to a court at any time.

The Court must consider the expressed wishes of the victim, any current contact between the victim and the person named in the DVO, whether any pressure has been applied or threatened to the victim, and the effect any variation would have to the safety, protection or wellbeing of the victim and children.

Police Protection Notice

A police officer may issue a Police Protection Notice against a person if he or she reasonably believes that, the person has committed domestic violence, and it is necessary or desirable to protect the victim from domestic violence. A police protection notice lasts until the application for a DVO can be fully considered.

DVO and Police Protection Notice Conditions

DVOs and Police Protection Notices have specific conditions. Depending on the circumstances the following conditions can be part of a DVO or Police Protection Notice:

  • requiring the person be of good behaviour towards the victim and to not commit domestic violence against the victim;
  • prohibit certain behaviour including approaching, contacting, or locating the victim;
  • return personal property to the victim;
  • allow the victim to enter premises to recover or access personal property; and
  • prohibit a person from remaining on, entering or attempting to enter, or approaching, the premises.

Breaching an Order

If a person does not comply with the conditions imposed by the DVO or police protection notice, they can be arrested and charged for the breach. Serious penalties can apply such as imprisonment or a fine depending on the severity of the breach and the offender’s history of breaching.

If you are protected by a DVO or police protection notice you cannot consent to a breach. You also need to be careful not to initiate a breach. For example, if the DVO says that the alleged offender is not allowed near your home, you cannot invite them over.