Discovering if Someone Possesses an Apprehended Violence Order (AVO)

Proposed legislation introduced by the State government offers a potential solution for determining if an individual has an Apprehended Violence Order (AVO) in place.

The Right to Ask initiative aims to empower the police with the ability to disclose information about individuals with a history of domestic violence to potential new victims.

However, concerns regarding privacy and potential misuse have been raised in relation to this proposal.

Before the bill is officially submitted, the scheme is currently being discussed with various community groups.

Through the proposed "Right to Ask" scheme, it will be possible to ascertain if someone has an AVO.

This particular scheme will enable individuals at risk of domestic violence to access information about their partners through an online portal or phone line.

The information provided will pertain to any previous instances of domestic violence committed by the person's partner.

Furthermore, this information will be made available in multiple languages.

Despite the potential benefits, certain concerns have been voiced regarding the protection of individuals' privacy under the Right to Ask scheme.

Additionally, the scheme also runs the risk of being exploited by individuals who are not in a relationship with the person in question.

Although there are proposed penalties for those who misuse the scheme, it remains unclear as to the severity of the penalty for such malicious applications. Without adequate consequences, there may be little discouragement for individuals seeking to find out if someone has an AVO.

Furthermore, it is unclear as to how the police would be able to verify if an application is malicious without informing the person's partner about the request. This could potentially place the person making the request in further danger.

The proposed scheme draws inspiration from the United Kingdom's Clare's Law, a domestic violence disclosure scheme. This initiative was named after Clare Wood, a 36-year-old woman who was tragically murdered by a partner with a history of domestic violence. Their initial contact had been made through Facebook.

Under the UK scheme, individuals can request information from the police regarding domestic violence offenses committed by their partners. In certain circumstances, the police can disclose information publicly without receiving a specific request.

The scheme came into effect in the UK in 2014.

Premier Dominic Perrottet believes that implementing this scheme would enable individuals to make informed decisions about their relationships.

He states, "There are far too many heart-wrenching stories of women and men who have suffered severe harm or lost their lives due to partners with histories of domestic violence or violent criminal offenses that they were unaware of."

However, a similar scheme was trialed in New South Wales (NSW) back in 2016. Despite being available in a few pilot sites, it had a low adoption rate and was ultimately abandoned due to concerns about its effectiveness in utilizing allocated funds.

Police Minister Paul Toole argues that the dating landscape has significantly changed since the trial, with more people engaging with dating apps and establishing relationships outside their immediate social circles.

He asserts that the new scheme will provide individuals with the necessary information to make more informed decisions about the continuation of their relationships, moving in with someone, or involving them in their family life, particularly if there are children involved.

Furthermore, a suggestion has been made to ban individuals who have AVOs or a history of domestic violence from using dating apps.

To discuss the implementation of the Right to Ask scheme, the government plans to hold a meeting with domestic violence organizations on Monday. Additionally, the scheme will be subject to review after a 12-month period.

To obtain an AVO, Section 16 of the Crimes (Domestic and Personal Violence) Act outlines the factors that need to be proven through a preponderance of evidence:

1. The alleged victim must have reasonable grounds to fear a personal violence offense from the individual in question.

2. The alleged victim must fear a personal violence offense from the individual, except in cases where:

a) The alleged victim is under the age of 16.

b) The alleged victim has a mental impairment.

c) The alleged victim has previously been subjected to a personal violence offense by the individual, and the court believes there is a reasonable likelihood of it happening again.

3. It is appropriate to issue an AVO according to the terms requested.

Furthermore, when deciding whether or not to issue an AVO, Section 17(2) of the Act grants the Court the authority to consider various factors.

(a) If there is an order that aims to forbid or limit access to the defendant's place of residence, the assessment will consider the impact and ramifications on the safety and protection of the individual under the order and any children who live or usually reside at the residence if the order prohibiting or restricting access to the residence is not issued.

(b) The assessment will also take into account the potential hardship that may arise from issuing or not issuing the order, especially for the protected person and any children affected.

(c) Another crucial aspect to be considered is the accommodation requirements of all relevant parties involved, with special attention given to the protected person and any children affected.

(d) Lastly, any other pertinent factors will also be taken into consideration."

However, if you have been convicted of related criminal charges, such as common assault, the Automatic Violence Order (AVO) will be issued.

A knowledgeable attorney specializing in AVO cases can provide guidance on your rights when it comes to determining whether someone has an AVO. For assistance, you can contact Parramatta criminal lawyers at (02) 7804 2823 or send an email to [email protected].

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