Intervention Orders, Restraining Orders, and AVOs: What’s the difference?

A guide to understanding Intervention Orders, Restraining Orders, and AVOs

In Australia, a magistrate can make an order to protect somebody from physical and mental harm. These orders go by many different names, like:

Regardless of where in Australia the order is made, or what name it goes by, they all effectively do the same thing. The order sets specific rules intended to protect a person from violence.

You may have questions about restraining orders, like:

  • Do my circumstances qualify for an order?
  • How do I apply for an order?
  • What is the order called where I live?

Then there are other important procedural questions, like, ‘is it more appropriate for me to apply for a Family Violence Order, or a Personal Safety Order?’

To save you from having to struggle through all the legal jargon, we’ve written the following guide.

At Australian Family Lawyers, we understand the complexity of Intervention Orders and AVOs, and we can support you through the whole process. We can provide the legal advice you need.

What is the difference between a Family Violence Order and a Personal Safety Order?

There are two different avenues for pursuing a restraining order.

1) A Family Violence Intervention Order: This is usually suitable if you want to apply for an order against a family member, partner, or ex-partner.

2) A Personal Safety Intervention Order: This is the option to provide protection against someone who is not a family member. For example, if you were filing an order against a neighbour, a friend, an employer, or a stranger.

Both kinds of orders have been designed to protect the applicant or protected person from violence and abuse.

Who should seek an Intervention Order?

An Intervention Order is issued to protect somebody (the applicant or protected person, if applied for by the police) against somebody else (the respondent).

Often, the order is put in place to prevent physical violence. However, an Intervention Order can be issued even when there has been no physical violence. There are also many other behaviours for which an order might be appropriate. For example:

  • Sexual abuse
  • Economic abuse
  • Stalking
  • Social abuse
  • Spiritual abuse

If you need information about whether or not you could seek an Intervention Order, you should seek legal advice.

What does an Intervention Order do?

An Intervention Order sets certain conditions on the respondent. For example, the order might make it illegal for somebody to:

    • Come near you
  • Come near your property
  • Use other people to contact you
  • Try and contact you by other means, like with a phone call, text message, letter, or email
  • Publish information about you on the internet against your consent

Breaching the conditions of a restraining order is a criminal offence. It can result in penalties that include imprisonment.

What is a Domestic Violence Protection Order called in my state?

Signing and applying for a domestic violence restraining order

Different states and territories in Australia have different criminal justice systems. As a result, an order which restrains somebody has different names in different jurisdictions.

  • Queensland: Domestic Violence Order
  • Victoria: Intervention Orders
  • Western Australia: Family Violence Restraining Order
  • South Australia: They were formerly called Restraining Orders, but are now called Intervention Orders
  • New South Wales: Apprehended Domestic Violence Order (ADVO)
  • Tasmania: Family Violence Order
  • Northern Territory and Australian Capital Territory: Domestic Violence Order

Who do you ask for an Intervention Order?

If you are currently experiencing an emergency, you should call 000 immediately. If they deem it necessary, the police can issue an Intervention Order.

If possible, you should seek an Intervention Order before an emergency situation arises. Children can apply at the Children’s Court, and anybody over the age of eighteen can apply for an intervention order at a Magistrates’ Court or Local Court. A parent can apply for an Order protecting their children at either of these courts, as well.

What is the process of seeking an Intervention Order?

The legal system can be complicated and confusing. At a court hearing, a magistrate will ask for evidence that supports your application. This might involve:

  • Showing personal documents
  • Providing police statements
  • Providing medical evidence
  • Going into the witness box, swearing an oath (or affirmation), and telling your story to the magistrate

You shouldn’t go through all of that on your own. It is best to seek legal advice early on in the process. Our qualified team of professionals at Australian Family Lawyers are ready to help.

It’s crucial to get out of a domestic violence relationship as safely as possible. Read our guide on how to prepare to leave a relationship of domestic violence.

Do you have a question about family law or relationship law?

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