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APVO – New False Report Offences

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Published under Law Reform

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October 29, 2013

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Government Plans to Give More Protection to Victims of False AVO Applications

As criminal defence lawyers, we regularly help clients defend frivolous and vexatious Apprehended Violence Orders (AVOs). The reasons why people pursue AVOs in circumstances where they are not justified are many and varied. However, for our clients, defending a false allegation is an upsetting experience. The sentiment that we often hear is “how can they get away with this?” This week, the New South Wales Government agreed that the current laws protecting AVO defendants from false allegations are not strong enough, and is proposing new laws to address this. However, some may ask whether the new laws go far enough.

The new laws will make it a crime to make false allegations in order to obtain an Apprehended Personal Violence Orders (APVOs). An APVO is an order protecting people who have not been in a domestic relationship with each other. Examples include your neighbour, business partner or a stranger.

The new offence will be punishable by imprisonment of up to 12 months and/or a fine of $1,100. The Government will put the laws before Parliament this week.

You might be wondering why there aren’t already laws stopping people from making false accusations to Police. The answer is that such laws do exist, but they have significant gaps in relation to AVO applications. The new law seeks to fill these. Under the current law it is a crime to make a false accusation to the Police in an attempt to have the other person investigated for an offence. There are two problems with applying this law to AVO proceedings:

  • The current law requires that the accusations be made to the Police. People can make an AVO application without the involvement of the Police. If the applicant goes directly to the Court, any false accusation is not made to the Police and the current offence is not committed.
  • The current law only applies where the false accusation could trigger an investigation for an offence. However, AVOs can be granted even if no criminal offence has occurred. Hence, a person could make an application for an AVO based on non-criminal conduct. False accusations of non-criminal conduct would not breach the current law.

Although the new laws are a positive step forward for APVOs, they do not address the more common issue of false allegations in Apprehended Domestic Violence Orders (ADVOs). As we said above, the new laws will only apply to APVOs. Hence they will not provide any protection where the person making the false allegations against you is someone that you have lived with, a relative or a partner (including an ex). This is a conscious decision on the part of the government in line with their policy of encouraging the reporting of domestic violence. Although this is an important policy, it unfortunately leaves a lack of protection for ADVO defendants. In our experience the stakes in ADVOs are usually higher; with relationship breakdowns, custody of children, and property issues often simmering in the background. With emotions running high and ulterior motives false accusations are not unheard of. Unfortunately, the new law’s positive step forward for APVO defendants will not be shared by those who find themselves victims of their ex-partner’s false accusations.

About the Author

John is partner of Armstrong Legal and head of the Criminal Law Division. The experience John possesses, being a high quality mix of defence and prosecution skills, together with his team at Armstrong Legal, mean you can be certain of accurate, dependable and practical advice on how your matter can dealt with.


  1. Brad


    Does this include perjury. I understand that (whilst rarely prosecuted) deliberately lying under oath to a magistrate in an ADVO even without criminal charge is still (theoretically at least) a crime.

    • Perjury could apply in some, but not all, cases in this context. In order for the offence of perjury to be committed, the false statement must be made under oath. Hence perjury could be committed if the person made the statement by affidavit, or adopted the statement in Court under oath. However perjury would not apply if the statement wasn’t made on oath.

  2. geoffo123


    If I am being threatened by somebody, making a knowingly false statement against me, in order to gain a personal advantage to himself; what can i do about this? I have the email threats, I have statements countering his claim.
    Please advise me further

    • Sarah Marinovic


      I would strongly recommend seeking legal advice. A lawyer will be able to consider the whole circumstances and recommend how to proceed. It is important that you do this quickly, so as to avoid the other person reporting you to the Police first.

  3. Andrew


    I am so happy to read this article, mainly because it normalises my own situation for me. I have felt so ashamed since having a DVO taken against me, completely by surprise, when my wife left me taking our two children. I, too, simply took the consent without admission option after my solicitor told me that, regardless of the lack of quality prosecutorial evidence or the quality of my own exculpatory evidence, chances of successfully defending the allegations were slim at best. (This was after he had strung me along for weeks, telling me things like magistrates were aware that the aggrieved were often motivated to invent and/or exaggerate allegations)
    In the subsequent years I have felt too embarrassed to talk abut my experiences and on the few occasions where I’ve either had to or decided to, I have felt judged and labelled a ‘denier’.
    I feel a bit better after having read this article because it indicates to me that the writer is aware of at least the possibility of a travesty of natural justice in these cases. I believe that this cannot usually be said aloud because it is considered an unacceptable thought in this increasingly Orwellian society with its hallmarks of groupthink and newspeak.
    Thank you.

    • Bob fekonia


      Hey mate you and me are in the same boat it’s unfair us men just don’t stand a chance its all stacked up against us

  4. Bob fekonia


    I married a Chinese woman in which she was bashing me slapping kicking punching spitting at me .i had never raised my hand to her. But yet she a piled for a private avo against me there was never the police called on me . But yet i called the police on her .we went to court to day for me to defend the avo . The female judge didn’t want to hear the evidence i had against my wife she told me to go out and think about it and that she didn’t want to hear the matter .which I had paid for a solicitor and a barrister to represent me . If we had to come back again it was going to cost me another 15000 dollars for the day . So i had to agree to the avo without admissions . So now she can apply for permanent residence. This is so wrong they come here find a sucker like me ruin my life and gets to stay on a bunch of liars. It’s unfair im an Australian citizens but yet she gets all the legal help ho does that work

  5. Barry Carruthers


    My wife had in the past told me what actions she would be taking if we were to split, firstly she would get an AVO on me then she would dissappear with the children and that it could be up to 2yrs before I was able to see the children again. I didn’t pay much attention to this as I wasn’t sure what an AVO was and I hadn’t done anything to justify one. We split up on new years eve and I went straight back to Scotland after a big argument with me telling her it was over on my return she had moved all my stuff out of the house, I found a room two doors down from my home so I took it. After being back a while my children told me that she had been hurting them , she has a history with the child protection agency, she has attacked me so many times I’ve lost count, she has attacked her dad one of her sisters and the kids, I reported her to the police and took primary carer role took the kids away for a while, the police interviewed her while we were away, she lied to them and said that it was a tit for tat situation and they believed her, I didn’t know this at this time, and I started to let her see the kids again for short periods with the odd over night stay because I believed it was in the kids best interest to still have contact
    with their mother, on the 2nd
    of may they didn’t come back,I
    went to see where they were I
    waited around and nothing, I called my wife’s dad he came
    down we both went to see and
    the house was what we thought
    was empty, we walked back on
    to the street and within minutes
    three police cars turn up, the
    cops go inside ,she and a friend
    were hiding in the wordrobe for
    effect and came out when the
    cops went in, I had done
    nothing wrong and even with
    her dad saying that I hadn’t
    done anything , she put on one
    of her best act’s and conned
    the police again “she feared for
    her life” the cops put an AVO on
    me and even though I was the
    main carer and had reported
    her for abuse against the kids,
    she kept them and I was told to
    go away? When I went by the
    house the next morning everything had gone! over night the contents of the house and the shed gone! I don’t know where she has gone if my kids are OK nothing! No one will help me because of the AVO, this is a huge injustice at there’s not a thing I can do about it! I have done nothing wrong, but with a few planned lies she has been able to carry out her objectives, YOUR ADVO LAWS SUCK AUSTRALIA! It just allows the female to use and abuse the system to their advantage! While innocent fathers are left confused and bewildered! Wondering “will I ever see my children again” SHAME ON YOU!

    • Sue


      I am sooooo over the stupidity of AVO’s………..It strikes me than any person can rock up to the local police, make a personal complaint that suits them, and bang without question or further investigation the cops turn up with AVO papers you are required to sign on delivery. They make no offer of explanation, please explain ideology, just sign this AVO???

      This law ruins peoples lives, especially when they are so innocent but the police do not want to listen………..They just say sign, walk away, desk job done………” Now what Sargent”?

      In Tasmania the AVO law seems so similar to NSW……………About time we stood up for ourselves and confronted Parliament about this pathetic law. Personally, I have never had an AVO taken out against me but a person that I love and trust dearly has and it is slowly eroding her well being and psychological health as she is completely and utterly innocent of any form of violence.

      Tas police have been brilliant and we do know that they are doing their job but Lawyers who are designed to protect your innocence cost big time, something my daughter does not have, money. What do we do? Just allow wicked people to continue to destroy innocent lives over and over?

  6. Ross Greentree


    Hi Sarah

    In Tasmania if a person makes a false statement to police, they issue a police violence order this served on the other party and they a removed from there property with an exclusion zone and you seek legal advice only to be told you have to wait six weeks to find out the allegations.Then a further four to twelve weeks for a hearing.

    This has occurred to me on the 20th January this year but I have not been charged with anything. I have been asked questions by the police witch make you laugh as the have been fabricated and I am homeless and unable to support myself as my tools and van are at my dwelling . Ross

  7. Robert phillips


    I’ve had police contact me saying that a family member had made a allegation of me saying I’m harrasing them, yet she was the one that contacted me on Facebook which I ignored and then on my messenger when I replied she took it to the police and asked if she could get a AVO on me as she was scared of me. If she was scared of me why contact me? I never threatened her just called her a lying hoe as we had done a agreement.

    I sold her a monaro for five grand it was immaculate with the understanding that they only wanted to show it not sell it for profit and if they were to sell it I was to get first offer at the same price it was sold for plus whatever they’d spent on it.

    She sold it for a extremely large amount around fifty grand and never offered it to me at all. Now if I didn’t have the money to buy back they could do what they wanted, so we are arguing over it. I reduced the original price for them as it was originally Twelve grand which is what I wanted for it.

    Guessing it was sold for minimum of fifty grand they went to police and wanted to put a AVO on me making false complaints saying I’m harassing her and as I said she contacted me I only ever spoke to her husband. The messages from her husband weren’t shown to police were I was abused by him. She tried to set me up in order to make a false complaint. Can they be charged if I can prove she contacted me and in fact isn’t scared of me at all?

  8. Amanda Rice


    Is there a support group out there for victims of False AVO’s?

    • Hi Amanda, there are several groups that we know of who support victims of false allegations. However, all of those groups are geared towards male victims. If you are asking on behalf of a friend, we suggest starting with Dads in Distress –

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