Excerpted from ABC By Matthew Smith
Background checks on people suspected of having a history of domestic violence are already helping to save lives, a domestic violence service provider says.
The State Government has released details from the first year of the Domestic Violence Disclosure Scheme, which was set up to help people find out if their partners were potentially dangerous.
The new law allows them or a third party, such as a relative or friend, to ask for a police check on their partner’s history, such as convictions and intervention orders.
In the first 12 months there were 252 applications, with police deciding that 170 of them needed further investigation.
Of those cases, 15 were seen to be of such a high risk that authorities had to intervene and issue a warning within 48 hours.
The offences ranged from harassment, stalking and threats of physical assault and property damage.
The disclosure does not extend to unrelated offences such as road traffic offences, interstate offences, or spent convictions.
Human Services Minister Michelle Lensink said she was not surprised by the statistics.
“I think it goes to show that the scheme is a really important part of what we’re offering in domestic violence services and that yes, people need to listen to their instincts,” she said.
“I think we’ve heard this from a lot of people who’ve lived experiences that you know there were sometimes warning signs and you need to listen to them.”
Of the applications, 98 per cent were made by women and often involved children.
Nik Tilley from Centacare, which offers domestic violence support services, said that the scheme was about seeking help and saving lives.
“The Domestic Violence Disclosure Scheme is like an avenue for people at risk of domestic violence from their partner or former partner and it’s early intervention,” Ms. Tilley said.
“If you look at the numbers … that’s 170 women and men that have got prior information on their partner, so that information can be used to guide their safety planning.
“It will stop that high-end imminent risk of danger and death, so people are making informed decisions about their safety moving forward in that relationship or ceasing that relationship.”
A similar scheme called Clare’s Law was introduced to the United Kingdom in 2013 after the murder of British woman Clare Wood, who had no knowledge of her partner’s criminal past.