Restraining Orders, AVO’s, IVO’s etc. What is the difference?

What is the difference between AVOs and IVOs?

The main difference between AVOs and IVOs is the state in which the terminology is used. AVO is NSW terminology, whereas in Victoria we have Family Intervention Orders (FVIO) or Personal Safety Intervention Orders (PSIO), which are collectively referred to as Intervention Orders (IVOs). Family violence is harmful behaviour that is used to control, threaten, force or dominate a family member through fear, and can be stopped with FVIOs. PSIOs apply for non-familial relations, including neighbours, friends, and workplace acquaintances.

The names and terms vary from jurisdiction to jurisdiction – in America, these types of orders are often called Restraining Orders.


What constitutes grounds for an Intervention Order? 

In Victoria, a Family Intervention Order can be granted on the grounds of:

  • Physical acts, such as hitting or pushing a person 
  • Sexual abuse
  • Emotional or psychological abuse, such as controlling who a person can see or where they can go, or calling them names
  • Financial abuse.

If a child witnesses or hears family violence, then they are also protected by the law. This includes if a child:

  • Helps an abused family member 
  • Sees damaged property in the family home
  • Is at a family violence incident when the police arrive.

A Personal Safety Intervention Order may be granted by a judge if the respondent has done any of the following: 

  • Assault
  • Sexual assault
  • Harassment
  • Property damage or interference with property
  • Serious threats
  • Stalking

It is important to remember that even if the person applying for the Intervention Order has displayed aggressive or abusive behaviour towards the respondent themselves, this is not necessarily a reason for the Order not to be granted. Rather, it may provide grounds for the respondent to seek their own Order against the Applicant. Where both parties obtain orders against the other, this is commonly referred to as having ‘cross-orders’.


What are the conditions of intervention orders in Victoria?

In Victoria, conditions of Intervention Orders are commonly that the Respondent must not:

  1. Commit family violence against the protected person,
  2. Intentionally damage the property of the protected person,
  3. Follow or keep the protected person under surveillance,
  4. Publish on the internet, by email or other electronic communication, any material about the Protected Person,
  5. Contact or communicate with the protected person (though there are often certain circumstances or reasons allowed by the Court for which the parties can communicate, or through their respective lawyers),
  6. Approach or remain within a particular distance of the protected person (e.g 200m),
  7. Go within a particular distance of the protected person’s home or work address,
  8. Get any other person to do anything that the respondent themselves must not do under the order.

Where someone has made allegations to the Police regarding a criminal offence, it is common for the Police to seek an Intervention Order on behalf of the victim.


It is important to note that breaking an Intervention Order is a criminal offence.

How long does an IVO last in Victoria?

In Victoria, magistrates can order two types of IVOs: temporary IVOs known as interim orders, which are used until a magistrate can hear evidence in court, and final orders which are made after a contested hearing.

Typically, IVOs last for 12 months, but can be extended by request of the applicant.


Does an Intervention Order go on your record?

Because Intervention Orders are civil matters (rather than criminal), Intervention Orders do not constitute a component of your criminal record, so long as the order is fully obeyed for its duration. However, if you break the conditions of an IVO, it then becomes a criminal matter and will therefore go on your record.

Forms of violence which are restricted include but are not limited to:

  • Physical or sexual violence
  • Threats to hurt others
  • Verbal or written abuse
  • Sending abusive or threatening images
  • Stalking
  • Financial abuse
  • Property damages

Moreover, breaching an exclusion condition also constitutes a criminal matter. Exclusion conditions can limit the respondents from:

  • Going near the protected people, or where they live or work or go to school or childcare
  • Getting others to hurt, threaten, harass, stalk or abuse the protected people
  • Communicating via telephone, text message, email or social media.

Contravening any exclusion condition may result in a criminal record and penalties, including fines and jail time. 

When should you speak with a criminal lawyer?

If you are the Respondent in an Application for an Intervention Order, then you should arrange to speak with a Melbourne criminal lawyer for advice as to what options are available to you, and what is be the best course of action in dealing with the application.

Call us on 03 9034 7351 for a free case assessment if you or someone you know needs advice regarding Intervention Orders.

Tom Isaacs

Tom Isaacs

Bachelor of Laws with Honours - LLB(Hons)

Tom has been part of the firm for the past 10 years, working initially as a law clerk and now as a fully qualified Solicitor. He completed his Bachelor of Laws with Honours at Deakin University, and undertook his legal training at the Leo Cussen Insititute where he was president of his class. Tom appears regularly at Magistrates' Courts, both metropolitan and in regional Victoria.