Protection Orders

Protection Orders are orders made by the Court to protect people from future assaults, threats of violence, property damage, stalking, harassment and offensive behaviour. The objective of these orders are to prevent further violence and/or abuse.

They protect the applicant (the person who applies for the order) by ordering the respondent (the person who the order is against) from doing certain things.

DVO: A Domestic Violence Order (DVO) is used when the applicant and the respondent have been in a relationship and lived together, or are related to either party. Some examples of those relationships are:

Spouse, ex-spouse, defacto spouse, ex-defacto, child of spouse, mother, father, brother, sister, aunt, uncle, grandparent, child and include “step” relationships such as step father.

Behaviours that may meet the legal definition of Domestic Violence are:

Physical injury, property damage, specified criminal offences, a threat to do those things and harassing or offensive behaviour.

DVO’s can be granted for up to 2 years.

PPO: A Personal Protection Order (PPO) is used where the parties are not related and have not lived together. Anyone who is not entitled to apply for a DVO can apply for a PPO. Some examples are:

Boyfriend, girlfriend, neighbour, colleague, stranger

PPO's can be granted for up to 1 year.

EPO's: Emergency Protection Orders can only be applied for by Police, outside normal court hours. Police may apply for these orders where there may have been no criminal offence but Police are still concerned for a person’s safety. EPO's provide coverage to the applicant until they can attend at the court, usually within 48 hours.


An order may include:

  1. Restraints on behaviour that constitutes domestic or personal violence,
  2. Prohibitions on being where the applicant works, lives or is likely to be,
  3. Prohibitions on approaching the applicant within a particular distance,
  4. Prohibitions on contacting, harassing, threatening, intimidating the person or damaging property,
  5. Prohibitions on doing things in relation to a child or pet of the applicant,
  6. A direction to give reasonably needed property to the applicant,
  7. DVO's can be made for up to 2 years if made by consent, and longer if the court is satisfied there are special or exceptional circumstances.

How do I apply for an Order?

You can obtain an application form directly from the Magistrate's Court or you can go to the Legal Aid Domestic Violence and Personal Protection Order Unit. The Legal Aid DVO Unit is located at the Magistrates Court and can assist with legal advice, information and assistance with the application form.

Appointments can be made by calling 6207 1874 during business hours. Legal Aid is available for the 1st appointment in relation to protection orders and is not means tested. DVCS may be able to support you during this appointment.

Urgent (interim) Orders

If you are fearful for your safety, you can apply for an Interim Order. An Interim Order is an order which the Magistrate makes based on your evidence only. The order comes into effect as soon as the police serve a copy of it upon the respondent.

If you need an Interim Order, Legal Aid can assist you and will represent you in Court. Interim Orders last about 15 -21 days - then you will need to attend a Return Conference to negotiate the Final Orders.

Return Conference

When an application for an order is made or an Interim Order is granted by a Magistrate, a return conference is scheduled. For an application this is usually in about two day’s time. An Interim Order comes back to Court in 15 – 21 days time. A Return Conference is the process whereby the applicant and the respondent can put forward their views on the application and try to reach agreement on the order.

A Deputy Registrar of the Court runs the conference between the parties (in separate rooms if both present) in order to see if an agreement can be made. Agreement can be reached by consent without admissions. If there is consent, the order can be made final (see below).

If there is no agreement the matter can be set down for a hearing in front of a Magistrate at a later date. The Magistrate will then decide on the necessity for an order based on both parties evidence.

Final Orders

Final Orders last up to 12 months for Personal Protection Orders and up to 2 years for Domestic Violence Orders. Final Orders are made if both parties agree to what is written in the Orders. If they can’t agree, then a Magistrate will decide after hearing the evidence of both parties.

Final orders can be changed, withdrawn or extended. To do this you need to apply at the Magistrates Court.

Criminal Record?

An application for a protection order is known as a civil action (that is action between the two parties, not between the respondent and the court or Police). If a person has an order against them it does not mean they will get a criminal record. If they disobey (breach) any of the conditions of the Order, they can be arrested and charged by the police. This may then result in a criminal record.

Registering your order in another State

Orders issued by the court are valid in the State they were issued. To make your Order valid in another State, you need to register the order in that State. To register the Order, take it to your nearest court house where court staff will assist you. The respondent is not notified that you have registered the Order in another state.

Legal Aid Assistance

Legal Aid is available for the 1st appointment in relation to protections orders and is not means tested.

The Domestic Violence and Personal Protection Order Unit of the Legal Aid Office can assist you with the following services:

  1. Give Legal advice about whether you have grounds to get an Order;
  2. Help you fill out application forms for Orders;
  3. Explain the process of applying for an Order and getting an Order;
  4. Represent you in Court if you are applying for an interim order; and
  5. Assist you to extend, change or withdraw a Personal Protection Order or Domestic Violence Order.

The Domestic Violence and Personal Protection Order Unit is located at:

Ground Floor

ACT Magistrates Court

Knowles Place, Canberra

Phone: 6207 1874

Victim Impact Statement (VIS)

A Victim Impact Statement (VIS) is your chance to tell the Court about the way the crime the defendant has been charged with has impacted on you. Writing and submitting a VIS is your choice, it is not compulsory. The VIS is provided to the court after a person is convicted or found guilty, but must be provided before the offender is sentenced. Please download the VIS pdf for further instructions and information on who is eligible to submit a VIS.  You can download the form by clicking here

Family Law Court Orders

Domestic Violence Orders are distinct from Family Law Orders. A Domestic Violence Order will only include children where there are specific concerns about the safety of the children. Where children have not been included on a DVO, but the applicant has concerns for their safety while visiting or residing with the respondent, the applicant should seek Family Law advice.

Existing Family Law Orders always take precedence over Domestic Violence Orders. If there are Family Law Orders in place but there is or concern over safety risks to children, the applicant should seek support from child protection services and also seek further Family Law advice.

Family Law Advice Numbers:

Legal Aid: 6243 3411

Women’s Legal Service: 6257 4499 (9.30am – 12 noon only)

Aboriginal Legal Service: 6249 8488

Care and Protection Services (children’s safety): 1300556729