Taking action against family violence – The Right to Ask, Right to Know Scheme
A Liberal Nationals Government will introduce a Family Violence Disclosure Scheme that 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 Family Violence Disclosure Scheme will be piloted in six sites across the state to help Victorians who may be at risk of family violence to find out if their current or former partner has a history of violent criminal offences.
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.
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 a 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.
In circumstances where the application is made by a third party, the disclosure is made to the person who may be at risk, unless there are exceptional circumstances determined by police.
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. A similar scheme operates in New South Wales and in that jurisdiction if police believe an urgent disclosure should be made they have the capability to do so within 48 hours of the application being submitted.
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. A support service worker will be present at the disclosure.
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.
It is currently proposed that the six areas for the pilot will be the Local Government Areas of Casey, Greater Geelong, Whittlesea, Hume, Frankston and Wyndham. These areas have been identified by the Crime Statistics Agency as having among the highest rates of family violence.
Similar schemes are fully operational across England, Wales, Scotland and New Zealand. NSW introduced a trial in 2016.
The Family Violence Disclosure Scheme was recommended by Victoria Police in their submission to the Royal Commission on Family Violence. A Liberal Nationals Government will consult and work with Victoria Police and the Police Association of Victoria with the implementation of this scheme.
Comments attributable to Leader of the Opposition, Matthew Guy:
“Under a Liberal Nationals Government people at risk of domestic or family violence will have a right to ask and a right to know.
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.
In other places around the world where this scheme is operating it is found to be increasing the safety of people potentially at risk of family violence which is one of the reasons why we need to try it here in Victoria.”
Comments attributable to Shadow Minister for the Prevention of Family Violence, Georgie Crozier:
“One of the worst aspects of the skyrocketing crime rate in Victoria is the increasing rate of family violence.
There is no single solution to something as complex as family violence but this scheme will 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.”