NSW Residents Can Now Check Whether Their Partner Has A Violent Past

13/04/2016 4:45 PM AEST | Updated 15/07/2016 12:51 PM AEST
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New South Wales residents concerned their partner may have a violent past will soon be able to find out through a new disclosure scheme introduced by the state government.

The NSW Government launched the Domestic Violence Disclosure Scheme on Wednesday, a police-led program intended to keep more people in the state safe and prevent further acts of domestic violence.

Minister for the Prevention of Domestic Violence Pru Goward launched the two-year pilot, announcing the state government's $2.3 million investment into the scheme.

“This is about preventing people from being kept in the dark about a partner’s violent past and giving them the support to make informed decisions about their relationship,” Ms Goward said at a police station in Sutherland.

It's been a big day for state governments funding anti-domestic violence programs. On Wednesday morning Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews announced the state government would commit more than half a billion dollars to combat family and domestic violence which you can read more about here.

But if you're wondering who can apply for disclosure, how one goes about doing so and whether the person inquired about finds out, read on.

Who can apply for disclosure?

Anyone in the state who is concerned they may be at risk in a relationship or before endeavouring into a relationship can apply for disclosure.

But they’re not the only ones. A friend, family member or colleague concerned about someone in an abusive relationship or potentially abusive relationship can apply for disclosure. However, the person the third party is concerned about will be notified and required to attend the disclosure. The individual inquired about will not be notified, to reduce the risk of potential conflict.

How long does it take for the disclosure to be granted?

If the person applying for disclosure is at serious risk, they will be notified within 48 hours. But if they aren’t in serious danger -- which authorities will assess -- the disclosure will occur within two weeks.

What happens after the information, good or bad, is disclosed?

If there is a related offence putting a person at risk, authorities will schedule a time for the person applying for disclosure to come into the station, where a support person is welcome to join them.

There will also be a representative from a support service present. Authorities will divulge information regarding the type of offence and the date their partner was convicted of the offence. No information regarding the past victim will be revealed in order to protect their identity.

Even if there are no previous convictions to disclose, the person applying for disclosure will still need to attend a meeting to find out the information in person. A support service worker will also be there to discuss any relationship concerns the person has.

However, juvenile offences, offences committed outside of New South Wales and AVOs will not be disclosed. AVOs are not criminal convictions but civil orders aimed to protect the potential victim who applied for the order.

Where is the scheme piloted?

Four NSW Local Police Force Area Commands will lead the two-year pilot. They include Oxley, St George, Sutherland and Shoalhaven.

Is the scheme like a register?

Effectively not. It’s not a register and not a list. It’s a way for people to find out whether their partner has a history of violent offending. Keeping the violent offending private, unless necessary to disclose, will prevent the risk of further community violence targeting offenders, and in many cases, rehabilitated offenders.

For more information about disclosure applications, visit www.domesticviolence.nsw.gov.au/dvds

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