Staying safe

Your safety is important after a sexual assault to help you recover emotionally and mentally. If someone has sexually assaulted you it is reasonable that you may fear they will do something to you again. An Apprehended Violence Order (AVO) can be made to keep the defendant away from you.

What are AVOs and bail conditions?


If a person has hurt you, tried to hurt you or threatened to, it can be good to protect yourself by talking to the police about an AVO.

An AVO is not a criminal charge. It is an order of the local court saying that the person who hurt or tried to hurt you (the defendant) cannot do that again or they may be charged with a criminal offence.

How do I get an AVO?

To get an AVO you need to either:

  • Make a complaint (report) to the police; or
  • Apply privately through the local court.

Either way, you will need to go to court. The benefit of the police making an AVO is that their Prosecutor will speak to the magistrate for you at court.

If you do have to apply privately for an AVO, make sure you get legal advice. See Contacts for services offering free legal advice.

How will the police protect me with an AVO?

If you are reporting the sexual assault to the police and you continue to fear the perpetrator, police can apply for an AVO for your protection. If you do not regularly have contact with the perpetrator and there have not been any threats, intimidation or stalking, an AVO may not be necessary in your case.

The perpetrator, in an AVO or after charges have been laid, is called the defendant.

The NSW Police can make an AVO that protects you until the first time you go to court about the AVO. This is called a provisional AVO. Once you go to court, the magistrate will usually make an interim order (one that is just until the next court date) or a final order (one that is set for a period of time, usually between 6 months and 2 years).

Some orders that can be included on an AVO are that the defendant:

  • Must not come to your home, place of work or school;
  • Must not contact you or come near you if they see you out and about;
  • Must not assault, harass, threaten or intimidate you or anyone in a domestic relationship with

If the defendant does, or tries to do, any of these things you need to report it to the police and the defendant can be charged with breaching (not following) the orders. This is a criminal charge that will be dealt with in court and strict penalties can be given.

For more information on AVOs you can call your local Domestic Violence Liaison Officer (DVLO) at the police station or speak to a free legal service such as Women’s Legal Service NSW. See Contacts for contact information.

What if I’m on a visa?

You can get advice about your legal rights from the Immigration Advice and Rights Centre or Legal Aid NSW. See the Contacts page for contact information. For some visas, the family violence provisions may apply, allowing a victim of domestic violence, including sexual assault, to apply for permanent residency in Australia without having to stay in a violent relationship.

Bail conditions

Bail is where a defendant can apply to the court to be at liberty (meaning not in prison) until their matter is finally decided at court.

In some cases where the defendant is charged with a very serious offence they will be refused bail and will have to wait in prison (on remand) until their case is heard at court. These serious offences include child sexual assault.

However, in many cases bail can be applied for where a defendant has been charged. Depending on the risk of the defendant doing the wrong thing while on bail the court can either refuse bail or impose conditions on the defendant. Where the court finds there is no unacceptable risk, the defendant may be released on bail without conditions.

The court must consider whether there is an unacceptable risk that while on bail the defendant will:

  • Not attend court;
  • Commit a serious offence;
  • Pose a threat to the community; or
  • Interfere with a witness or

Instead of being for a set period of time like 6 months or 2 years, bail conditions are in place only until the defendant is either found guilty or not guilty. The bail conditions of the defendant can be changed by application to the court any time before the final hearing has finished.

How can the defendant’s bail conditions protect me?

Some bail conditions can protect you in a similar way to an AVO.

The conditions can vary but usually include the defendant needing to check in at a police station several times each week and live at a stated address. The conditions can also order that the defendant must not come near you or hurt you.

If the defendant breaches bail and it is proven in court, they usually have to stay in prison until the next court date. They may apply for bail again while there but police will notify you if the defendant is released.

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