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    The new AVOW app aimed at increasing compliance with AVOs (Apprehended Violence Orders) has been launched in NSW.

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      avow app

      AVOW App Developed to Encourage Compliance with AVOs

      The new AVOW app aimed at increasing compliance with AVOs (Apprehended Violence Orders) has been launched in NSW.

      With its development funded by the NSW government, the mobile app is designed to provide information about court processes and the consequences of breaching an Apprehended Domestic Violence Orders (ADVOs).

      There are also features that allow users to plan how to comply with an AVO and how to access support services.

      Attorney General Mark Speakman and a number of other stakeholders have spoken out in favour of the app.

      What is the AVOW App?

      The Avow app is a mobile application aimed at increasing compliance with AVOs in NSW. It is available for download on the App Store and Google Play.

       It has a number of features that includes:

      • information about ADVOs, court processes and the consequences of breaching an ADVO;
      • information about appearing in court;
      • allowing users to add their ADVO conditions into the app and plan for how they will comply with them; and
      • a directory and links to support services.

      It is unclear whether the app will provide support on how to vary an AVO. A new NSW Police referral card will also be used to promote the app and encourage defendants to contact the Men’s Referral Service that can put them in touch with supports, including Men’s Behaviour Change programs.

      The Avow app was developed by the Department of Communities and Justice with the Department of Customer Service and Miroma Project Factory. The Women’s Domestic Violence Court Advocacy Program also reviewed the app during development to ensure it was fit-for-purpose.

      “The scourge of domestic violence needs to be tackled both by protecting victims and by helping perpetrators to stop their abusive behaviour,” Attorney General and Minister for Prevention of Domestic and Sexual Violence Mark Speakman said.

      “The Avow app puts information perpetrators need to comply with their ADVO at their fingertips. It’s available anytime, anywhere, for free, meaning perpetrators can more easily address their behaviour.”

      What is an ADVO?

      An ADVO (Apprehended Domestic Violence Order) is a court order that imposes conditions on a person that restricts their behaviour.

      These restrictions can include preventing contact with the person in need of protection (PINOP), precluding them from living at a certain address and even stopping them from entering a location.

      How Many AVO Breaches are there in NSW?

      In 2020, NSW Police claim to have identified close to 17,000 breaches of ADVOs. Many of these resulted in persons being charged with contravene AVO.

      NSW Police domestic and family violence spokeswoman Assistant Commissioner Leanne McCusker said police respond to nearly 400 domestic violence incidents throughout NSW each day.

      “The primary focus of police is to protect victims and in the last two years we have significantly increased our compliance activities to ensure perpetrators are held to account…The Avow App will give perpetrators the information they need to ensure they are abiding by the requirements of the ADVO, and they can access referral pathways to get the help they need to change their behaviour,” she said.

      Domestic Violence Lawyers to Assist AVOW App

      The AVOW app is part of a larger government package of products aimed at increasing awareness of ADVOs, including animations produced by AVO lawyers at Legal Aid NSW on how to comply with an order.

      Legal Aid NSW Chief Executive Officer Brendan Thomas said these resources are innovative ways to promote access to justice.

      “While nothing beats in-person legal advice, the app will serve as an invaluable reference tool that will help to keep victims safe and perpetrators out of gaol,” Mr Thomas said.

      The information will be delivered state-wide to the legal assistance sector through Legal Aid NSW’s Cooperative Legal Service Delivery Program, which partners with Community Legal Centres, the Aboriginal Legal Service, disability advocates, police and local courts. There will be a focus on the terms of the Crimes (Domestic and Personal Violence) Act 2007.

      No to Violence Chief Executive Jacqui Watt welcomed any new resource that aimed to reduce violence, but said much more work was needed in the space.

      “The fact the younger generation is much more likely to use apps means it is definitely worth trying…The app could be of great assistance,” she said.

      Concerns About Police

      The new app is the result of a review by the Law Enforcement Conduct Commission (LECC) into how NSW Police deal with domestic violence cases more broadly, as well as how they investigate their own.

      The LECC said the results of the app would be analysed over the next six months and a report would be made public when the project was complete.

      NSW Police said they could not comment on the review while it was being conducted and referred all questions to LECC.

      Between 2016 and 2020, the number of police officers subject to an ADVO each year has varied between 10 to 14, based on figures provided to NSW parliament. So far in 2021, 7 police officers were subject to an ADVO. One explanation for the low figures may be that officers are experienced with the system and know how to beat an AVO.

      The NSW Auditor-General’s office is also conducting a review of their own into the effectiveness of NSW Police in responding to domestic violence and family violence as well as supporting complainants.

      Women’s Safety NSW chief executive Hayley Foster said she hoped the reviews would address accountability, transparency of how police handle cases, and see greater collaboration between frontline support services to improve training, policy and response.

      Domestic Violence NSW chief executive officer Delia Donovan said it was important responses to domestic violence are dynamic and creative, including offering more in-depth training to younger police officers.

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