The new South Australian initiative aimed at protecting people at risk of domestic violence is showing strong results, including identifying potential victims who had previously never reached out to support services.
In the first seven months of operation, the Domestic Violence Disclosure Scheme has received 132 applications, highlighting a strong awareness and uptake of the scheme by people at risk of, or experiencing, domestic or family violence.
Of note, around two thirds – 67 per cent of those accessing the scheme – have not had any previous contact with domestic violence support services.
“It is very pleasing to see this scheme is connecting new women to help and support, and helping to reach out to those in the community who may feel at risk and have previously been too frightened or unsure, to take any action,” Attorney-General Vickie Chapman said.
The Domestic Violence Disclosure Scheme, which began accepting applications on October 2 last year, gives individuals who may be at risk the chance to find out if their current or former partner (where there is ongoing contact) has a history of violence or related offences. An application may be made by any person in South Australia who is over the age of 17 years.
The disclosure of information by South Australia Police allows them to make an informed decision about their safety and the safety of their children, seek assistance, undertake safety planning, and decide whether or not to remain in the relationship.
Of the 132 applications received to the end of April, 43 per cent are seeking information about a current partner and 57 per cent wanted to know about a former partner as there was ongoing contact.
Around two thirds of applications were made by people who felt they were at risk of domestic violence.
South Australia Police statistics also show that 59 disclosure meetings have been approved to provide persons at risk with information, and a further 25 applications have been accepted and are progressing. In circumstances where an application cannot be progressed, the person at risk is offered alternative forms of support.
“In the seven months since the scheme has been in place, 84 of the 132 applications so far have been accepted for further investigation and 8 people were assessed at imminent risk of harm, which is proof this initiative is critical and sadly needed,” said Minister for Human Services Michelle Lensink.
“The volume of applications so far demonstrates there are people at risk of, or experiencing domestic and family violence in South Australia and this scheme is an important way to help people take control of their situation, and possibly provide a safer environment for themselves and their children.”
Assistant Minister for Domestic and Family Violence Prevention, Carolyn Power, said the scheme is an early intervention initiative, and part of a holistic response from Government to address domestic violence.
“Early intervention is crucial in changing the story for those at risk of experiencing abuse,” the Assistant Minister said.
“While responding to domestic violence with accessible crisis services and stronger legislation, as the Marshall Liberal Government has is important, we’re also aiming to stop the violence before it starts. It’s critical in ending the cycle.”
People can find out more about the Domestic Violence Disclosure Scheme or make an application using the online form by visiting www.police.sa.gov.au/your-safety/dvds.