Do We Need an AVO For Every Argument?

The Facts:

A husband and wife have an argument. The wife calls police but she calms down before they arrive. She tells police that she does not want any action taken. However despite this, police take out an AVO on behalf of the wife with restrictive conditions that prevent the husband from contacting the wife. In effect, the husband had to move out of the premises immediately.

Had police with life experience used a bit more common sense, the matter might have been resolved differently. If the wife had wanted an AVO, police would have issued an interim AVO. But to issue an AVO simply because she called the police could be taking things a step too far. The mere fact that police are aware of the phone call and then followed up with a visit to the matrimonial home would mean that were records kept of what had occurred. The husband could not assault his wife anyway, with or without an AVO. This is not a case where there were allegations of violence, threatened violence, or a previous history of violence – just an argument between a married couple – probably only happens millions of times a day around the world.

The Result:

The AVO was withdrawn at Court. The wife gave evidence that she held no fears of her husband and did not want the AVO in the first place.

The police have the power to apply for an Apprehended Violence Order if they believe it is necessary. There seems to be public policy that if there is any risk of domestic violence, the police will apply for an order. Common sense might suggest that it would be appropriate to evaluate the situation after the parties have had an opportunity to think about what had occurred and then consider whether it was still appropriate to seek an Order. Perhaps the law should be changed to have a temporary apprehended violence order that expires within 48 hours unless either party makes application for the order to continue. It is so simple to get an AVO. It is acknowledged that an AVO is a valid means of regulating the behaviour of one person to another – but it should not be issued without a genuine need. Common sense should be applied and not some policy decision.