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What Do You Need to Know About The Family Violence Intervention Order ( AVO in NSW)?

Updated: Mar 4, 2021

Photo courtesy: Stefano Pollio collected from Unsplash

In the COVID-19 era, the rapid increase of domestic or family violence cases has made it crucial to understand your rights when you find yourself facing family violence. Family violence intervention order is designed to protect the victims of family violence from the perpetrator. It protects a person from a family member who is using family violence.

Family violence is an extremely harmful behaviour between family members that causes fear and anxiety. It includes emotional abuse, financial abuse, physical violence and sexual abuse.

If you are experiencing family violence and the situation is urgent, do not wait. Please call the police on 000.

The family violence intervention order is there to give you protection against the violent family member and to ensure your safety. Following are the things that you need to know about the intervention order:

1. What is family violence?

It is important, especially for women, to understand what constitutes family violence. If you can identify a pattern of behaviour as family violence at the early stages, it will help you to seek help to keep you and your children safe from a perpetrator.

Family violence is harmful behaviour by a person that is used to control, threaten, force or dominate a family member through fear. It is crucial to understand that family violence is not only physical violence. It can include:

  • physical abuse, such as hitting or pushing a person;

  • sexual abuse, such as forcing a person to have sex;

  • emotional or psychological abuse, such as controlling who a person can see or visit, controlling their spiritual beliefs and behaviour, putting them down, threatening them ;

  • financial or economic abuse, such as controlling a person's money without their consent;

  • controlling behaviour, such as forcing a family member into a marriage.

Family violence is also behaviour that makes a family member fear for the safety of:

  • their property;

  • another family member;

  • an animal.

If a child hears, sees or is around family violence in any way, they are also covered by the law. This includes if a child:

  • comforts or helps a family member who has been physically or emotionally abused;

  • sees property in the family home that has been damaged through family violence;

  • is at a family violence incident when the police arrive.

The police have to respond to all reports of family violence. They can act even if you don’t want them to because they must put the safety of you and your children first.

2. How do I apply for a family violence intervention order?

In Victoria, if you are experiencing family violence, you can apply for a family violence intervention order at your local Magistrate’s Court. You can also ask Victoria Police to apply for it on your behalf.

If the Magistrate considers that you need the protection straightway, he/she can issue an interim intervention order. This will provide you with the necessary protection until both sides can come to court for a determination of the final order. If you are scared for your children’s safety, you can include them in your application, as long as they are under the age of 18 years.

Intervention orders include conditions to stop the respondent from using family violence against the protected person. If the respondent breaks the conditions of an intervention order, the police can charge them with a criminal offence.

3. Who are considered family members for a family violence intervention order?

To making an application for a family violence intervention order, the following are the person who can be considered as family members:

  • people who share an intimate personal relationship – for example, married, de facto or domestic partners – whether or not there is a sexual relationship;

  • parents and children, including step-children;

  • relatives by birth, marriage or adoption;

  • people you treat like a family member – for example, a carer, guardian or person who is related to you within the family structure of your culture.

The law also protects a person from anyone who was a family member in the past, including ex-partners.

If you need more information on family violence intervention order or need help to find a lawyer who can give you appropriate legal advice, please visit us on call us on +61418631798 or email us at

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