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Applying for an Apprehended Violence Order through the Local Court - Step by step guide

If the police will not apply for an AVO, you can make an application to the Local Court yourself.

There are five steps to applying for an AVO through the Local Court:

Step-by-step guide icon Applying for an AVO through the Local Court - Step by step guide

Step 1: Conta​​ct the Court

Every Local Court works differently. Some courts may have a special AVO kit or a form you can fill out to apply for an AVO. At other courts you will need to make an appointment with the chamber service staff to help you make your application. You should call or go to your nearest Local Court and find out what you need to do.

You may not be able to get an appointment with court staff at your nearest Local Court for several days. If you need immediate protecti​on, or you are scared, you should contact the police. The police may apply and issue a Provisional AVO for you in cases involving domestic violence.

Alert IconIf the protected person is a person under the age of 16, only the police can apply for an AVO on their behalf. However, you can add your children to your own AVO. If the court makes an Interim or Final AVO to protect you, in most cases they must also make an order to protect any child under 16 who lives with you.

If you are applying for an Apprehended Personal Violence Order (APVO) against someone like a neighbour, you may wish to go to mediation to discuss the problem and resolve the dispute. The court must refer all APVO applications to mediation unless there is a good reason not to. Such reasons could include:

  • a history of physical violence
  • the defendant has stalked or intimidated the protected person
  • mediation has failed in the past. 

Mediation can take place through a service such as the Community Justice Centre (CJC). For more information, see Mediation.

Before you contact the Local Court about making an application for an AVO, you should consider your reasons for wanting an AVO carefully. If you make an application and you lose in court, you may be ordered to pay the defendant's costs. If you are applying for an Apprehended Domestic Violence Order (ADVO), you can only be ordered to pay costs if your application was frivolous or vexatious.

For more information about costs, see Costs in Apprehended Violence Order cases.

If the chamber service thinks that you do not have grounds for an AVO, they may refuse your application. If you still want to go ahead, the chamber service will help you to make an application to the magistrate. The magistrate may accept your application and your application will go ahead. The magistrate may also refuse the application. If your application is refused, you should get legal advice​.​

Alert IconIf you don't know whether you should make an application for an AVO, you should get legal advice.

Step 2: Fill out​​ forms or meet with registry staff at your local court

Whether you make your application by filling out a form yourself or registry staff at your local court help you, you will need to provide as much of the following information as you can:

  • the full name of the person you want protection from (the defendant)
  • the address of the defendant
  • the date of birth (if you know it) or an approximate age of the defendant
  • the relationship between you and the defendant, for example neighbours, de facto spouses or other family members
  • the names of anyone else you want protected by the order, for example, other family members who have lived with, or are living with, you
  • details of the incidents that are causing you to fear the defendant, including the most recent incident
  • details of any reports or statements made to the police, including any event numbers
  • details of any doctors reports or treatment by a doctor or hospital relating to any injuries caused by the defendant
  • evidence of any damage to property (for example photos)
  • information about the defendant's use of alcohol or drugs
  • information about the defendant's access to firearms or other weapons
  • information about any mental health issues
  • whether any AVOs or other orders have been made in the past to protect you from the defendant
  • the orders you think you need.  

If you are applying for an Apprehended Personal Violence Order (APVO), you will need to provide the following information:

  • if you and the defendant have an existing business relationship
  • if you owe money to the defendant
  • if the defendant owes you money
  • if you have previously been to court over a dispute with the defendant.

It is an offence to make a false or misleading statement to a magistrate or registrar for the purposes of an APVO application. It is also an offence to make a false or misleading statement to the court hearing an AVO case or to the police for the purposes of any AVO application. If you think you may have given a false or misleading statement, you should get legal advice.  

It may help the court if you prepare a list in date order of the relevant events that have taken place and also provide the court with copies of any text messages, emails, letters or other messages or documents that have been sent to you by the defendant and have caused you to feel fear.

If you are applying for an Apprehended Domestic Violence Order (ADVO), you should also supply the following information if the person you want to be protected from is, or has been, your intimate partner:

  • how long you have been in a relationship with the defendant
  • the names and dates of birth of any children you have together or who live with you
  • whether the defendant has ever been charged or convicted of any domestic violence offence
  • whether there has been any violence or threats towards your children (if you have children)
  • whether there is a court case in the Family Law Court between you and the defendant
  • whether there are any orders made by the Family Court
  • whether the Department of Community Services (DOCS) is or has been involved
  • whether you and the defendant have any parenting arrangements for your children (if you have children)

For more information about the orders you can get and what they mean, see Mandatory and additional orders.

Alert Icon Any information you give to the court should be true. If you give false information to the court the police can charge you. If you want to change the information that you have given to the court, you should get legal advice.

Hint icon  If you need an interpreter tell the court registry as soon as possible. The court will arrange an interpreter for you. Registry staff can use the Telephone Interpreter Service (TIS) when you are making the application and can order an interpreter for court for you. There is no fee for an interpreter in AVO matters.

Step 3: Sign the app​​lication

You will then have to sign the application to show that the information provided to the court and the reasons you have given for your application are the truth. Once you have done this you will be given a copy to keep for your records.

If you have not been given a copy of your application, you can ask the court office, known as the 'registry' to provide you with a copy.

Sample: For a sample ADVO application, see ​Sample application for an Apprehended Domestic Violence Order(31.549 kb) or text only version.

Sample: For a sample APVO application, see Sample application for an Apprehended Personal Violence Order(26.751 kb) or text only version.​

Alert IconIf a serious threat has been made to your safety and you need your application to be heard urgently, you should ask the registry staff that are helping you about applying for an Interim AVO. A magistrate will deal with the application (usually on the same day), and an Interim AVO may be made protecting you until the case is heard in court.

Step 4: Serve the ap​​plication

After you have signed the AVO application it must be served on (given to) the defendant.

AVO applications must be served by:

  • the police or
  • another person nominated by the court or a registrar.

When your application is filed at the court registry you should ask them whether they will arrange for the police to serve the AVO or whether you need to take it to the police yourself.

Before going to court for the first mention, it is a good idea to call the police and confirm that your application has been served on the defendant. If the police have not served or will not serve your application, you should contact the court. The court can send a letter to the police for you asking them to serve your application, or nominate another person to serve your application for you, for example the sheriff.

The police officer or nominated person that serves the AVO must fill out a 'statement of service', and send it to the court. The statement of service states when and how the application was served, so that the court knows the defendant is aware of the application.

If there have been problems serving the application you can apply to the court for 'substituted service'. Substituted service allows you to try other ways to bring the application to the defendant's attention, for example by sending documents by registered post. In police applications, the police will apply for substituted service if this is necessary.

Step 5: Go to C​ourt

The application will tell the defendant the date and time they have to go to court. You will also need to go to court on this date. If you made the application you will need to represent yourself or get a lawyer.

Alert Icon ​In ADVO matters and some APVO matters, the Women's Domestic Violence Court Advocacy Service (WDVCAS) can assist female applicants and, in some cases, female defendants, with applications and legal representation. For more information, go to WDVCAS.

Hint icon  If you have left your home because you fear the defendant and you would like to collect some of your belongings you can ask the court to make a Property Recovery Order. If you have a Property Recovery Order the defendant must let you enter the premises to remove your property. The court can also order that the police or another person may come with you so that you do not have to go home alone.

For more information, see Going to court. ​​