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Protection Orders in the Australian Capital Territory (ACT)

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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.

; individuals, families or groups may apply to the court for some restrictions on another party (respondent) that aim to assault, abuse or attack them. Also, it is possible to get this protection order where the attack or abuse already happened and you want to prevent future occurrences.

Of course, the Court does not automatically grant the protection orders; it considers the evidence around the event and determines the best conditions for the parties. The Domestic and Protection Orders Act 2008 further stipulates the processes that protection orders must follow in the Australian Capital Territory.

In NSW, it is referred to as an Apprehended Violence Order (AVO) however, the legislation refers to it as a Protection Order.

Breaching the conditions of a Protection Order is a serious criminal offence. The offence will in most circumstances show up on an individual's Nationally Coordinated Criminal History Check ACT certificate.

What are the types of Protection Orders you can apply for?

Anyone who feels threatened or has a reason to fear the actions of another party can apply to the ACT Magistrates Court for a Personal Violence Protection Order against the person (respondent).

However, depending on your relationship with the respondent, the court will impose the appropriate type of Order. The court, after confirming the relationship will Order any of a;

Personal Protection orders; are issued where the violence or assault is not domestic or from a related party. Examples are protection orders against;

  • A neighbour
  • Classmate
  • Work colleague

Domestic/Family Violence Order

These are protection orders imposed for people who are in a domestic relationship and suffer domestic violence. These assault cases are usually more serious than non-domestic assaults. The court will grant a Domestic Violence Order where the relationship between parties is;

  • Domestic partner or former domestic partner
  • Blood Relative
  • Parent
  • Child of a domestic or former domestic partner

What offences constitute Violence for a protection order?

Anyone can complain to the Police or the court if they fear or experienced any of these types of abuses;

  • Physical violence or abuse
  • Sexual violence or abuse
  • Emotional or psychological abuse
  • Economic Abuse
  • Threatening Behaviours
  • Harassing, Intimidating or offensive behaviours
  • Damaging Properties and other erratic behaviours

If the Court considers it appropriate, it will impose either a PPO or FPO

Who can apply for a Protection Order?

Depending on the circumstances and the severity of the intending harm or abuse, the court will accept applications from;

  1. The person needing protection
  2. The Police
  3. A litigation Adult; in the case of a child (underage) who needs the protection order. The adult must not be legally disabled.
  4. With the court’s leave, a child may apply for a Domestic Violence Order/Protection Order if they suffered or are threatened with abuse.
  5. For cases of workplace violence and assaults, only the employer can apply for the Personal Protection Order. The employee will have to submit all applications through their employer as the court does not allow employee applications.

However, you cannot seek a protection order against a person who is under the age of 10.

How does the court make a Protection Order?

After the accuser (applicant) has completed their applications to the ACT Magistrate Court, the registrar will fix a date for the hearing. The date of this hearing must not be later than 10 days when the application is made.

However, for interim orders, it must be no more than 2 days after the application.

Interim Protection Orders are imposed by the Police where they conclude there is an urgent need for protection. The Interim Orders usually run till when the Magistrate issues a final order or an agreement is reached.

Before Imposing the Final Order

The Registrar will usually hold a preliminary conference between both parties before the court issues a final order. If the parties can reach an agreement, the respondent will have to sign an undertaking and the applicant will withdraw the protection order charge.

However, if the parties cannot reach an agreement, the matter will continue in court. If a Magistrate is satisfied that the respondent committed an abusive act, or one that made the applicant fear for their lives, the court will issue the final order.

At the final hearing, the court will listen to all sides of the arguments, including evidence of abuse and witnesses.

If the court imposes an order, they may include other conditions that will make the applicants safer.

The court also considers other factors such as;

  • Accommodation needs
  • Hardships the order may cause to both parties
  • And other conditions of the respondent’s behaviour

What is an Emergency Order?

The Police can apply directly and informally to a judicial officer where there is urgency. Even when the application is made outside the court’s sitting hours, The judicial officer will make an emergency order.

This order remains as valid as any document issued by the court and must be served to the respondent immediately.

The Emergency Order will usually include conditions that prohibit the respondent from making further contacts with the applicant or their property. And it should last for not more than 2 days.

What are the consequences of a protection order on the respondent?

If the court orders a Protection Order against you, it does not count as a criminal offence and will not show up on a national police check result. And it may not save you from entering further charges. However, a breach of the Order is a serious criminal offence,

Furthermore, the court will also impose lots of inhibitory conditions in favour of the applicant. Some examples are;

You are prohibited from;

  • Being within a certain distance of the applicant (aggrieved person)
  • You will not be able to stay on the same premises or the same area with the person at a time.
  • Never contact the person except through your lawyer or parole officer

You may have to return some personal properties to the aggrieved

The court may;

  • Disqualify you from getting certain licenses, like a firearm license
  • Mandate that you complete rehab or educational course
  • Order you to vacate a shared area or accommodation

How long does a Protection order last?

PPO or FVO usually carry the durations in the copies. The court will usually order a protection order until a time they think the applicant will be safe.

  • It is 2 years for a Domestic Violence Order
  • 12 months for a Personal Protection Order


Domestic Violence and Protection Orders Act 2008 (ACT) -

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