Coalition promises domestic violence register for NSW
NEW South Wales residents would be able to find out if their partners had a history of domestic violence offences under a re-elected Coalition government, Premier Mike Baird has told an International Women's Day event this morning.
The proposed Australian-first domestic violence register would be modelled on the Clare's law scheme in the UK which gives people the "right to ask" police if they have concerns their partner may pose a risk to them.
NSW Minister for Women Pru Goward would also take on a new Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault ministry under the reforms package announced this morning.
"At the heart of domestic violence and sexual assault is violence and power," Mr Baird said.
"These issues remain one of the biggest challenges to the welfare of women and children in NSW and they can now be tackled in a dedicated portfolio.
"The eradication of domestic violence and sexual assault is everyone's responsibility and needs a voice at the cabinet table, and a person dedicated to taking leadership on these issues and ensuring they remain front and centre."
Mr Baird said the Disclosure Scheme register would initially run as a pilot program, and would also give agencies the power to tell someone about their partner's violent history if they believe they believe they are at risk.
"This is a simple but powerful measure that provides people with the opportunity to find out if their partner has a violent past, and empowers decision-making about the future of relationships," he said.
Ms Goward said the UK register scheme had proven to be a "significant prevention initiative" since its introduction last year.
"The experience has been that individuals who received a disclosure said they would keep a closer eye out for warning signs of domestic abuse in their relationships," she said.
"The disclosure process also brought potential victims and perpetrators to the attention of police and support services, channelling referrals to behaviour-change programs and counselling."
In the UK, each disclosure request is considered by a multi-agency decision-making forum, which is an important safeguard where the legality of the disclosure is decided alongside how to protect the potential victim.
"A disclosure scheme in NSW has the potential to significantly advance our efforts to decrease domestic and family violence," Ms Goward said.
Consultation and development of the scheme will be led by Women NSW and the Department of Justice.
Queensland Attorney-General Yvette D'Ath has said the state was not "closed" to any ideas, but would work through recommendations from its own domestic violence taskforce.
It will review necessary law reform and report back to the Government with recommendations mid-2015.
If you or someone you know is impacted by domestic or family violence or sexual assault, call 1800RESPECT on 1800 737 732 or visit www.1800RESPECT.org.au.
In an emergency, call 000.