'Never think you're alone'

In the video, Tidda's Marumal: A Time to Heal, Take my Hand, Redfern Legal Centre's specialist domestic violence worker, Charmaigne Weldon talks about help that is available for women and children dealing with family and domestic violence.

Looking back, she says: "I wish I knew all those services were available when I was experiencing domestic violence. I did it solely. It was hard. I had nobody to talk to."

Her message is: "Access those services, don't fear them. You're not alone. Never think you're alone."

The video was funded by the City of Sydney.

Safer Pathway

Safer Pathway is a government initiative that coordinates referrals and services for people who have experienced domestic and family violence. Safer Pathway is a coordinated approach to ensure the right services are provided to someone at risk of serious harm.

How can the law help?

The police and legal systems are there to protect your right to live in your home safely without threat of harm or intimidation. When the police are called to a domestic violence incident they will investigate what occurred. They will take out an Apprehended Violence Order for your protection if a domestic violence offence has happened or is likely to happen. For a full list of legal support services go to the directory of services.

What is an Apprehended Violence Order?

An Apprehended Violence Order protects people who are in, or have left, a domestic or intimate relationship that included violence, and fear future violence or threats to their safety from that person. An Apprehended Violence Order can be issued and enforced by either the police or a court and these are sometimes called ‘restraining orders’ or ‘protection orders’. 

An Apprehended Violence Order made on or after 25 November 2017 is automatically recognised and enforceable in any Australian state or territory.

How to get an Apprehended Violence Order 

Most Apprehended Violence Orders in NSW are taken out by police on behalf of the victim but you also have the option to ask for a private order through the court

If an order is made, conditions can be put on an Apprehended Violence Order for your safety. 

If you need to get your personal belongings the court can make a Property Recovery Order at the time that they make the Apprehended Violence Order. 

Apprehended Violence Orders and family law

Family law orders are parenting or financial orders made by the Family Court of Australia. They cover parenting arrangements for a child or the separation of assets between you and your former partner or spouse. You must tell the court if you have family law orders.

Family Advocacy and Support Services is a Legal Aid service that specialises in family violence cases in the Family Court:

02 9219 6300
Monday to Friday from 9.30am to 4.30pm.

If you have an Apprehended Violence Order and a Family Law parenting order, the parenting order will override the Apprehended Violence Order if the orders state different things.

Evidence for an Apprehended Violence Order

Your statement will be taken, with your consent, if the police are likely to charge the ‘defendant’ (the person the order is being taken out against) with a criminal offence as well as take out an Apprehended Violence Order. 

Your video or audio evidence will include a statement by you that covers the details of your experience. This can be recorded by police and is called your Domestic Violence Evidence in Chief. Police are able to proceed with just your statement but other evidence you have to support what you are saying will help you get an order.

The Police Officer in Charge (listed on the Provisional Order of an Apprehended Domestic Violence Order) or a NSW Police Force Domestic Violence Liaison Officer can inform you on the information you can include as evidence. All police area commands have a Domestic Violence Liaison Officer, often called a DVLO.

Preparing to go to court 

If you are preparing to go to court, this information outlines the court process

The Police Domestic Violence Prosecutor runs clinics that can prepare you for what happens at court. They will discuss the hearing process and answer your questions. The Prosecutor Clinic will not focus on your individual case. The Domestic Violence Hearing Clinic aims to help you feel informed about the court process, where to go, and what assistance and support is available for you on the hearing day.

The Women’s Domestic Violence Court Advocacy Service can arrange for you to attend a clinic if you have an upcoming Apprehended Violence Order or domestic violence charge hearing.

The police automatically refer all cases to Women’s Domestic Violence Court Advocacy Service, who will contact you by telephone before going to court.

If you are making a private application for an Apprehended Domestic Violence Order and are represented by a solicitor, you need to be prepared to have an interview with them as soon as possible. You and any witnesses will give a written statement to the court before the hearing date is set. Your solicitor will need details of any witnesses so that they can be subpoenaed to attend the hearing. They will also need to know about any current family law orders, as well as relevant evidence such as photos, medical reports, text messages, emails, phone records and letters.

Women’s Domestic Violence Court Advocacy Service

The Women’s Domestic Violence Court Advocacy Service can provide you with information about the Apprehended Violence Order process, support you in applying for an AVO and in attending court, and refer you to any other help you need.

The Sydney Women’s Domestic Violence Court Advocacy Service operates at:

  • Downing Centre Local Court, Monday to Friday from 8.30am to 4.30pm
  • Newtown Local Court on Monday mornings from 9am
  • Waverley Local Court on Thursday mornings from 9am.

You can call Women’s Domestic Violence Court Advocacy Service on:

1800 938 227 or 02 9287 7505
Monday to Friday from 8.30am to 4.30pm.

Safe Relationships Project

For lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, intersex and queer (LGBTIQ) people in NSW, the Inner City Legal Centre can provide advocacy and legal advice.

You can contact the centre for more information on:

02 9332 1966
Monday, Thursday and Friday from 9am to 1pm and 2pm to 5pm
Tuesday and Wednesday from 9am to 1pm and 2pm to 8pm.

Dress for Success

Dress for Success provides free services to support women during any life event. It offers free styling and clothing for job interviews, court sessions, special occasions and employment. They can also provide job support, career workshops and coaching on career development. 

Contact Dress for Success on:

1800 773 456
Monday to Friday from 9.30am to 4.30pm.

How will this affect my visa?

There are some domestic violence protections for some partner (spousal) visas. If your relationship breaks down due to domestic or family violence, you may still be able to apply for permanent residency. You should get legal advice as soon as possible.

Translators are available if you require assistance to speak with these services. Call the free Translating and Interpreting Service on:

13 14 50

You can contact the 24-hour NSW Domestic Violence Line for information about local support services on:

1800 65 64 63

For advice and assistance regarding immigration law when there is domestic and family violence, you can also contact the following services.

LawAccess NSW
1300 888 529 or TTY 1300 889 529

Legal Aid NSW
02 9219 5790

Immigration Advice and Rights Centre

Provides free immigration advice and representation to refugees and financially disadvantaged immigrants in NSW. You can call to receive advice over the phone or to make an appointment to talk to someone about legal advice:

02 8234 0700
Tuesday and Thursday from 2pm to 4pm

Immigrant Women’s Speakout Association NSW

The Immigrant Women’s Speakout Association is the peak advocacy, information, referral and research body representing immigrant and refugee women in NSW.

The association’s Speakout Radio project discusses domestic and family violence issues in radio plays. You can listen to mp3 recordings of the plays or read the scripts. They are available in Arabic, Dari, Dinka, Khmer, Krio, Mandarin, Somali, Sudanese, Arabic and Vietnamese.

02 9635 8022
Monday to Friday from 9am to 5pm.

Inside this section

NSW Police Force: domestic and family violence reports

NSW Police Force will respond to all reports of domestic and family violence. They will pursue the perpetrators to hold them accountable for their criminal behaviour under NSW law by placing them before the courts.

Victims of domestic and family violence crime

Victims Services NSW provides support services, including free counselling and financial assistance to victims of crime. Victims rights are set out in the Charter of Victims Rights.


The information on this webpage is provided as a general guide only and is not intended to constitute advice and must not be used as a substitute for professional advice. The City of Sydney makes no warranty, representation or guarantee of any type as to the content, accuracy, completeness or fitness for any particular purpose or use of any information on this webpage. If you find any information that you believe may be inaccurate, please contact safecity@cityofsydney.nsw.gov.au.

Last updated: Tuesday, 9 July 2019