What does it do?
The mandatory orders that apply to all AVOs state the defendant must not assault, threaten, stalk, harass, intimidate or damage the property of you or your family. Basically, they have to stop doing whatever they were doing that brought about the AVO.
Additional orders that can be made include:
(a) preventing the defendant from approaching or contacting or attempting to find you;
(b) preventing the defendant from living somewhere;
(c) preventing the defendant from going to places where you will likely be or being within a certain distance of you;
(d) preventing them from approaching you if they have been drinking or taken drugs; and
(e) that they surrender any firearms they may have. In addition, the making of an AVO has serious consequences for a person’s ability to hold a firearms licence in the future.
What if they contravene the AVO?
“It’s a piece of paper – it can’t stop me.”
If the defendant intentionally contravenes an order, it is a criminal offence.
The contravention should be immediately reported to police for their investigation. From there, depending on the severity of the contravention, the defendant may be arrested, charged and brought before the court. The maximum penalty for a contravention of an AVO is imprisonment for 2 years and/or a fine of $5,500.
What happens if the AVO conflicts with current arrangements?
What if the parties live in the same house?
You can request an order that the defendant leave the home and no longer reside there. Should this specific order not be requested, nor made, the defendant can keep living in the home.
What if the parties are separated parents who subsequently obtain parenting orders?
To the extent they contradict, orders made in the Family Court supersede the AVO. If the parenting orders say the defendant is to call the applicant to speak with the kids, doing so pursuant to the order would not be a contravention. If an AVO states the defendant is to stay 500 metres away from the applicant but subsequent parenting orders say changeover is to take place at each parent’s home, doing so pursuant to the order would not be a contravention.
There are odd problems such as these that people can commonly face when dealing with an AVO but the defendant should always remember that it is them that is at risk of a criminal charge for a contravention, so they should always err on the side of caution and possibly seek advice before proceeding.
TLDR. If you hold genuine fears, report it to the police. If the fears remain, file an application for AVO. If the behaviour continues once you get the AVO, contact police and the perpetrator could face gaol.
The above is not intended as legal advice. You should obtain legal advice in relation to your own specific circumstances.