Families protected

DOMESTIC violence is a crime.

There is a range of civil and criminal responses to protect victims and help prevent domestic violence.

Legal action in response to domestic vi- olence may address:

- Protecting the victim: Apprehended Vio- lence Orders (AVOs);

- Criminal charges arising out of a domestic violence inci- dent;

- Family law; or

- Approved counselling and/or compensation for victims of crime.

An Apprehended Violence Order is the most effective way of ensuring a domestic violence victim's safety in New South Wales.

People can apply for an AVO either through the police or at any local court.

An AVO is a court order that places certain conditions on a perpetrator of domestic violence.

A typical AVO will clearly state that the defendant (the perpetrator) cannot assault, harass, threaten, stalk, or intimidate the complainant (the person who applied for the Order).

It may also prohibit the defendant from going within a certain distance of the complainant's home or workplace.

Other specific orders can be included if necessary, and the AVO can also protect children who have experienced domestic violence.

An AVO is legally enforceable. It does not give the defendant a criminal record, unless they break it.

AVOs are designed to:

- Ensure the safety and protection of all persons who experience domestic vio- lence;

- Reduce and prevent violence between persons who are in a domestic relationship with each other; and

- Enact provisions that are consistent with certain principles underlying the Declaration on the Elimination of Violence Against Women.

Initiating any legal action can be extremely daunting for victims of domestic violence, but there is help available.

One service supporting women through this process is the Women's Domestic Violence Court Assistance Scheme (DVAS).

DVASs core work is assisting and/or representing women who are applying for an AVO, while also offering referrals and other legal advice.

If you need legal assistance or advice you can contact the following numbers:

- Coffs Harbour Womens' Domestic Violence Court Assistance Scheme ? 6650 0302.

- Domestic Violence Line ? 1800 633 063.

- DOCS Domestic Violence Line ? 1800 656 463.

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Newest and longest crossing on highway upgrade almost ready

New crossing to improve safety and efficiency on the Pacific Highway

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