June 24, 2018
Matt Johnston, State politics editor
Opposition Leader Matthew Guy said his government would allow people to apply to Victoria Police for a background check of someone with whom they were in a direct relationship.
Concerned third parties, such as friends or relatives, could also apply.
The person obtaining a confidential confirmation of a history of family violence would be banned from publishing or otherwise misusing the data.
The radical proposal comes just weeks after Geelong welfare agencies reported they were unable to meet constant demand, with Barwon CASA Minerva averaging 40 family violence referrals a week.
The disclosure scheme would be piloted first across Greater Geelong and other at-risk local government areas including Wyndham, Casey, Whittlesea, Hume and Frankston.
It would be based on the UK's scheme developed as "Clare's Law" that was introduced in 2009 following the murder of Clare Wood by a partner with a history of abuse.
The Liberal leader said: "This plan will save lives and protect many, many people, particularly women.
"We want to make sure people at risk of family violence aren't kept in the dark, which is why we will give Victorians the right to ask and the right to know about any history of violent criminal offences of a current or former partner," Mr Guy said.
The scheme was proposed by Victoria Police in its submission to the Royal Commission on Family Violence.
Similar schemes have been set up in New Zealand and in NSW, and South Australia recently announced a plan for a year-long trial.
Mr Guy said that under the Liberal-National plan, police would arrange a meeting to inform an applicant, unless the need for disclosure was urgent, in which case the meeting would be held within 48 hours.
Meetings, involving a support service worker, would be at a police station or at an "agreed safe space".
In the case of third-party applicants, the data would be relayed directly to the person in the relationship. To ensure applicants' safety, the subject of the request would not be told.
The Opposition's spokeswoman for the prevention of family violence, Georgie Crozier said the proposed program would save lives and help family members who were "concerned about a loved one."
"This scheme will allow you to get any relevant information to them to help them make an informed decision about their relationship," Ms Crozier said.
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