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South Australia investigates new domestic violence prevention measures

2015-11-25

South Australia is taking steps towards introducing a scheme to allow a person's history of domestic violence to be disclosed to a new partner.

Coinciding with this morning's White Ribbon breakfast, Premier Jay Weatherill has announced that the State Government will release a discussion paper on a domestic violence disclosure similar to "Clare's Law" in the UK.

"Clare's Law" was introduced by the UK Government in 2013 in response to the 2009 murder of Ms Clare Wood, whose partner had a history of abusing women including abducting a former girlfriend at knife-point.

The scheme gives a formal mechanism for a person to make inquiries about their partner, or for a third party to make an inquiry, if they are concerned the person may have been violent or abusive in the past.

In the UK, the law includes four stages: making an application to the police; a face-to-face meeting to complete the application; consideration by a multi-agency forum of whether or not to disclose the information and potential disclosure of information.

"The level of domestic violence in our community is unacceptable and the Government must look at everything we can do to help prevent the tragedies we are seeing every week in Australia," Mr Weatherill said.

"Clearly we need to be doing more to prevent the violence that claimed the lives of Clare Wood in the UK, Luke Batty in Victoria, Zahra Abrahimzadeh in Adelaide and too many others everywhere."

Member for Little Para Mr Lee Odenwalder has been advocating for South Australia to adopt a law based on "Clare's Law".

"The aim of a disclosure scheme would be to reduce incidents by helping strengthen the ability of police to provide appropriate protection to people who are at risk of domestic violence," Mr Odenwalder said.

"If a person feels they may be at risk of domestic violence this would give them the ability to seek information and the police the ability to provide information if they have concerns."

When an application is made under Clare's Law a conviction is only to be disclosed where the person has a relevant offence in their criminal history and the disclosure is lawful and proportionate to the identified need.

Relevant offences include personal violence offences committed in a domestic relationship and certain personal violence offences when they are made outside of a domestic relationship such as sexual offences, child abuse or murder.

A discussion paper will be released for comment next year seeking community views on an appropriate model for a domestic violence disclosure scheme in South Australia and also identify other potential areas of reform.

The NSW Government recently released a discussion paper seeking comments on the UK scheme and provided options for a NSW version. As a result of this consultation, the NSW Government will trial a domestic violence disclosure scheme next year.

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Last Updated:
28 Oct 2016
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21 Oct 2017
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