JUNE 26 2018 - 1:00PM
THE WIMMERA MAIL-TIMES
By Alice Rennison
The Liberal Nationals have pledged to introduce the Family Violence Disclosure Scheme if elected in November.
Grampians Community Health chief executive officer Greg Little said it was one way to protect survivors of domestic violence.
"But we also need to address the root cause of domestic violence which is gender inequality," he said.
On average, one woman a week is murdered by her current or former partner, according to the most recent analysis of homicide statistics in Australia.
Under the Liberal Nationals model, a person in a relationship, or a concerned third party, such as a friend, relative or professional working with the family, may apply to Victoria Police for disclosure.
To make an application as a concerned third party, the person must have an ongoing relationship with the person who may be at risk.
The scheme will be piloted in six sites across the state.
A person who applies will undertake a risk assessment and criminal history check. Police will then set a time and date to inform the person who may be at risk of the outcome.
Information on proven violent offences will be provided to the person who may be at risk through a verbal disclosure at a police station, or another agreed safe place.
"Fear and threats can lead to massive under reporting"
A conviction will be disclosed where the subject of the application (a current or former partner) has a relevant offence in their criminal history, such as personal violence offences or breaches of Apprehended Domestic Violence Orders.
To ensure the safety of those at risk, the subject of the application will not be informed of any application or disclosure made about them.
It will be an offence to provide false or misleading information in an application, and any person present at disclosure will be required to sign an undertaking that they will not share, publish or misuse the confidential information disclosed.
Mr Little said we need to go about the scheme the right way.
"There are no innocent bystanders when it comes to family violence"
Georgie Crozier MP
"With new policies we need to make sure we capture the strengths and improve the weaknesses," he said.
Similar schemes are fully operational across England, Wales, Scotland and New Zealand. NSW introduced a trial in 2016.
The disclosure scheme is based on Clare's Law, a model introduced in the UK following the 2009 murder of Clare Wood, who was unaware of her partner's history of abuse.
The Family Violence Disclosure Scheme was recommended by Victoria Police in their submission to the Royal Commission on Family Violence.
Mr Little said there were barriers to the reporting of domestic violence.
"Fear and threats can lead to massive under-reporting," he said.
The latest Crime Statistics Agency data shows the Wimmera had 750 family violence order breaches across six municipalities in the 12 months to March this year. This was up from 429 breaches in the year to March 2015.
Mr Little also said despite the information presented to the person, under this scheme, it was still up to the person to make the decision of what to do.
The state shadow minister for the prevention of family violence Georgie Crozier said there was no single solution to something as complex as family violence but this scheme would help save lives.
"There are no innocent bystanders when it comes to family violence. If you are 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," he said.
This story New family violence 'right to know' scheme pledged for Victoria first appeared on The Stawell Times-News.
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