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Protection Orders (ACT)

In the Australian Capital Territory, protection orders can be made under the Domestic Violence and Protection Orders Act 2008. The orders are designed to protect people who experience or fear violence by providing a legally enforceable way to prevent it. Two types of orders can be made: a Domestic Violence Order (DVO) or Personal Protection Order (PPO).

Domestic Violence Order

A DVO can be made as an emergency, interim or final order. It restrains the respondent from engaging in domestic violence in relation to a “relevant person”. It remains in force for 2 years unless a different period is stated in the order.

What is domestic violence?

Under the Act, conduct is domestic violence to a “relevant person” if it:

  • causes physical or personal injury to them;
  • causes damage to their property;
  • contravenes a protection order;
  • is a threat to harm a person or their property, or to breach a protection order;
  • is harassing or offensive to them;
  • is directed at their pet and is an animal violence offence (such as cruelty, injuring, poisoning or using electrical devices), or a threat to commit an animal violence offence;

A relevant person can be:

  • a domestic partner of the respondent;
  • a relative of the respondent;
  • a child of the domestic partner of the respondent;
  • a parent of a child of the respondent;
  • someone who is in a domestic relationship with the respondent.

Personal Protection Order

A PPO can be made as an interim or final order. It restrains the respondent from engaging in personal violence in relation to the aggrieved. It remains in force for 1 year unless a shorter period is stated in the order.

What is personal violence?

The Act defines personal violence as conduct which:

  • causes or threatens to cause personal injury to the aggrieved or damage to the aggrieved’s property;
  • is harassing or offensive to the aggrieved.

A person’s conduct is not personal violence if it is domestic violence.

Workplace Protection Order

A workplace-specific PPO can be made if there is, or there is a risk of, personal violence in a workplace. Personal violence in the workplace is conduct which:

  • causes or threatens to cause personal injury to an employee or damage to property at the workplace;
  • is harassing or offensive to an employee while they are working at the workplace.

Interim protection orders

The Magistrates Court can make an interim protection order if it deems this necessary to ensure the safety of the aggrieved or their child, or to prevent substantial damage to the property of their aggrieved or their child. It can be made only if there is an application for a final order.

Emergency orders

Only a police officer can apply for an emergency order. An order can be made if a judicial officer is satisfied:

  • the respondent’s behaviour shows there are reasonable grounds that an order is needed to prevent the respondent injuring the aggrieved or a child, or causing substantial damage to property;
  • it is not practicable to arrest the respondent or there is no ground to arrest them;
  • it is outside the sitting hours of the Magistrates Court.

A police officer can make an application by phone. They also have the power to detain a person for up to 4 hours until the application is dealt with and a copy of the order is provided to the person (who has now become the respondent).

The order remains in force until the close of business on the day after the order is made, until it is revoked, or until an interim or final order can be made. An emergency order cannot be renewed or extended.

Criteria for making orders

When making a protection order, the court must consider factors including:

  • the welfare of any children affected;
  • the accommodation needs of the aggrieved and any children;
  • any hardship that might be caused to the respondent;
  • the income, assets and liabilities of the parties;
  • contact between the parties;
  • any previous domestic or personal violence;
  • any previous protection orders and any non-compliance with them;
  • the need to ensure property is protected from damage.


The Magistrates Court can impose any conditions it considers necessary or desirable. The conditions can prohibit the respondent from:

  • being on premises where the aggrieved person lives, works, or is likely to be;
  • being within a specified distance from the aggrieved;
  • contacting, harassing, threatening or intimidating the aggrieved;
  • damaging the aggrieved’s property.

The order can also state conditions on which the respondent can be on a specified premises or place, or contact a specified person. It can also prevent the respondent from taking property from the aggrieved, or order the respondent to give property to the aggrieved.

For advice or representation in any legal matter, please contact Armstrong Legal.

Sally Crosswell

This article was written by Sally Crosswell

Sally Crosswell has a Bachelor of Laws (Hons), a Bachelor of Communication and a Master of International and Community Development. She also completed a Graduate Diploma of Legal Practice at the College of Law. A former journalist, Sally has a keen interest in human rights law.

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