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Being in the position where you need to apply for an apprehended violence order (AVO) is scary, stressful and confusing all at once. This is particularly true when the behaviour of an individual close to you is making you worried not only for your own safety, but your children’s as well.
When all of this is going on, the last thing you need is to try and trawl through a mountain of legal jargon in order to find out what steps you can take to feel safe. To make things easier, we’ve summarised everything you need to know about AVOs and how to apply for them in Victoria.
What is an AVO?
Firstly, it’s important to know that you may see AVOs referred to as IVOs (intervention orders). If you see this term being used, it’s referring to the same thing.
In Victoria, there are two types of intervention orders that can be issued – family violence intervention orders (FVIO) and personal safety intervention orders (PSIO). At their heart, both of these orders are designed to protect those at risk. They work by preventing the named person (i.e. the person doing you harm, or threatening to do so) from certain acts like being near your home, contacting you in any way, harassing or threatening you or causing damage to your property.
The main difference between a FVIO and a PSIO is that the first is aimed at protecting you against a family member who is violent towards you, while the second is used when the person being violent isn’t a family member – a neighbour, for example.
Applying for an AVO in Victoria
You can apply for an AVO in Victoria if the person has done any of the following and is likely to do it again:
- Assaulted you or threatened to assault you.
- Caused you emotional or psychological harm.
- Harassed you.
- Damaged or threatened to cause damage to your property (including pets).
- Committed economic abuse towards you.
- Given you reason to fear for your safety or that of your family.
Importantly, this means you can get an AVO in Victoria without the person having been physically violent. It’s also crucial to understand that one AVO can cover you and your family, including children.
In Victoria, AVOs can be obtained from your local Magistrates Court, and the initial application for an order can either be done in person or online. Here, we’ll run through the process for a FVIO, but it’s important to note that the PSIO process has a few differences. Once you’ve submitted your application, the next steps usually involve:
- Attending the FVIO appointment: here, you’ll read out the application, sign it and promise that it’s factually correct. If your application is approved, you’ll be provided with a copy of the documents which could include an interim order (this provides you with immediate protection), an application and summons or an application and warrant.
- Informing the person involved: what this means will depend on what action was taken at the appointment:
- If an interim order was issued, the police will let you know when they have served this to the individual in question.
- If an application and summons was issued, the police will serve this to the person, informing them of their court date (you’ll also be notified if this happens).
- If a warrant was issued, the person could be arrested.
- Attending court: This is when the actual FVIO hearing takes place. A magistrate will decide to make an interim or final order, and the conditions of this order will be read aloud so that everyone understands what they are.
To have the best chance of securing protection for you and your family through an AVO, you’ll want to have professional, experienced and sensitive legal assistance by your side. At Testart Family Lawyers, we understand how emotionally and physically exhausting these situations are, and our aim is to make the process as simple and straightforward as possible so you and your family can feel safe and secure faster.. For more information on our services and how we can help you, get in touch with the team today.