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Light on dark pasts - HERALD SUN

Posted on 25 June 2018
Light on dark pasts - HERALD SUN

25 Jun 2018

Herald Sun

By Matt Johnston


Coalition pledges family violence 'right to know'


VICTORIANS would be able to check whether an intimate partner has any history of family violence under a radical scheme being promised by the state Coalition.

Opposition Leader Matthew Guy said his government would allow people to apply to Victoria Police for a check of the background 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 scheme, to be tried initially in six "at risk" local government areas - Casey, Greater Geelong, Whittlesea, Hume, Frankston, and Wyndham - would be based on Britain's "Clare's Law," 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."

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 NSW, and South Australia recently announced a plan for a year-long trial.

Mr Guy said 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," she said.


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