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Personal Violence Orders in the Northern Territory (NT)

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Australian National Character Check (ANCC) makes every effort to provide updated and accurate information to its customers. However due to the continuously changing nature of legislations for the Commonwealth and various States and Territories, it is inevitable that some information may not be up to date. The information on the website is general information only. The contents on the website do not constitute legal or professional advice and should not be relied upon as a substitute for legal or professional advice. While we endeavour to keep the information up to date and correct, we make no representations or warranties of any kind, express or implied, about the completeness, suitability, accuracy or availability with respect to the information.


The Domestic and Family Violence Act (NT) allows the court to impose special orders to protect individuals when they rightfully apply for them. The Court must protect the individuals from their potential aggressor by ordering some terms against the respondents.

While these laws are generally called Apprehended Violence Orders (AVOs), it is called a Personal or Domestic Violence Order (DVO) under the Act.

Breaching the conditions of a Personal Violence Order (PVO) is considered a serious criminal offence and will in most circumstances show up on a Nationally Coordinated Criminal History Check NT result.

How to apply for a Personal Violence Order (PVO)

The following people may apply for a PVO as per the rules of the Domestic and Family Violence Act (NT);

  • The Person seeking protection (accuser)

Such persons should apply through their local courts with proper details of the application, including;

Why they need such orders (the reasons and evidences)

Examples of the circumstances that warrant the order

  • Adults acting on behalf of a child or the person who needs protection

With leave of the Magistrate Court, persons between 15 and 18 years of age may apply for the DVO. However, those under this age should apply to the court through the Police, adult representative or guardians.

  • A Police officer

If you lodge a related complaint to the Police about an attack or abuse, they will help you apply for a Domestic Violence Order. However, where the Police deem the matter requires urgent actions of protection, they will impose an interim Order against the (respondent).

These Interim Orders will prevent the (accused) from contacting you until the matter is resolved in court.

How does a Personal Violence Order help?

If the Court hearing and reviewing the application concludes that the applicant needs protection, it will make conditions related to the case. These conditions may include even custom conditions that the court believes will make the applicant safe.

Depending on the circumstances that warrant the Personal Violence Order, the conditions will prohibit the respondent from;

  • Contacting or being near you
  • Attacking or Threatening you (including any member of your family you include)
  • Causing damage to your property, including injury or death to animals
  • Verbally abusing or blackmailing you
  • Stalking and Harassing you
  • Selling or trespassing into a disputed property
  • Pressuring you through other forms
  • Exposing your children or other people in your family to domestic violence

What is the difference between a Personal and a Domestic Violence Order?

You may have heard people or even your friends use both of these terms interchangeably. However, they are different on the following grounds:

  • Relationship with the respondents
  • The specific laws and conditions that can be applied

The basic difference is that the Personal Violence Order (PVO) is a protection order made against someone with whom you have no domestic relationship.

While reviewing your application, the court ensures that the applicant confesses any form of relationship with the respondent. However, if none, the court handles the case as a PVO.

Examples of people that you can order a PVO against;

  • Neighbours
  • Work colleagues
  • Professional groups or bodies
  • “That person down the street”

A Domestic Violence Order on the other hand includes all Protection Orders in cases where there are blood relations or informal relationships. The DVO allows the court to impose custom orders to protect other family members or groups involved.

A Domestic relationship includes;

  • Married or de facto partners
  • Blood relatives; Mother, Fathers, Cousins, in-laws
  • Aboriginal customary relationships; tribes, kins
  • Partners who are dating or engaged to each other
  • Housemates or other forms of cohabitation
  • Those in a carer’s relationship

What conditions can the Court impose in a Protection Order?

The court only issues protection Orders following the legislations and the protection of the applicant.

Before imposing other conditions in the PVO/DVO the court will consider other factors like;

  • Existing family laws relating to the defendant
  • The accommodation needs of the protected person
  • The defendant’s police check
  • The previous conducts of the defendant or attempts towards the applicant’s life
  • Other matters and evidence the court considers relevant

The law (Section 19 of the Act) places such paramount regard for lives that a court may order a protection Order for a person even where;

  • They did not apply for one, especially where the court is handling a related matter
  • They claim to have no fears or apprehension of the person.

Section 20 of the Act guides issuance of DVOs in cases with children or children to look after. The law allows the protected party to continue living in the family home presuming it is benign to the children and the applicant.

In other cases where the court deems it necessary, they will mandate the defendant partake in a rehabilitation program. Depending on the circumstances of their case;

  • Mental evaluation
  • Physical evaluation
  • Psychological therapy and so on

How long will a PVO last?

The copies of the Personal Violence Orders carry the duration of the orders.

The court will impose conditions until a period they conclude is safe for the applicant. However, depending on the circumstance or change in legislation, the court may vary, alter or revoke the PVO.

If you get served with a court/Police summons for a Personal Violence Order, you should seek the assistance of an experienced lawyer.

What is a breach of a Personal Violence Order?

The PVO or DVOs are civil orders; they are not criminal offences and will not appear on a Police Check.

Intentional breach of a Domestic Violence order is a criminal offence with maximum punishments of;

  • 400 penalty units ($62 000)
  • Imprisonment of 2 years

Can I apply for a PVO on behalf of a person?

It is easier and better to alert the Police to all forms of assaults or victimization you notice. The Police may even charge you to court if you fail to report cases on reasonable grounds. The court can impose penalties of up to 200 penalty units ($29,800).

Does a Protection Order continue in other States apart from NT?

Those moving into the NT with a protected Order can apply to the Magistrate Court to have their orders registered.

If the court grants the order, it will be treated like those made.

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