15 July 2016
In April, the NSW Domestic Violence Disclosure Scheme (DVDS) was launched as a Police led initiative for both women and men who may be at risk of domestic violence, giving them the ability to check with Police whether their partner has a history of family violence and/or related offences. This knowledge empowers people to make decisions about the future of their relationships, and work to secure their own personal safety.
The Scheme is not a register or a list, but a tool available to concerned people to seek information about a person’s violent offending history. Any person who has concern about their current or former partner, or a third party who has concerns about a person’s partner, can find out if that partner has been previously charged with domestic violence related offences. Concerned people, either a ‘primary person’ or a relevant ‘third party’ can make a DVDS application at either Sutherland or St.George Police Station. The NSW Police Force will receive and review applications and undertake criminal record checks to determine whether a relevant conviction exists that requires a disclosure. Where a disclosure is needed, the disclosure will be made to the ‘primary person’ (that person in the relationship).
Sutherland Shire Family Services (SSFS) was announced as the key service partner for the trial, offering 24/7 crisis access to a Domestic Violence Support Worker, safety planning services, referral to trauma counseling and other specialist support services available to people affected by domestic violence.
As a result of the pilot, SSFS now employ 3 domestic violence support workers for the project, who share a 24/7 on call roster to ensure help is at hand when it is needed most. Upon receiving referrals from Police, SSFS Domestic Violence caseworkers meet and support the victim of violence, working to ensure their personal safety and provide access to services for future assistance.
The pilot is already showing signs of success and could potentially save lives, with caseworkers working with primary persons identified through the trial. Some of the cases already referred have included women who have experienced both physical and escalating emotional abuse. Finding out about past criminal history has empowered women to make informed decisions about their current relationship. The scheme can also assist an individual with a range of support options such as establishing AVOs with sufficient protection, accessing local specialist counseling, or seeking the help they need to address their situation.
Whilst Sutherland Shire Family Services work across the Sutherland and St George LAC regions, they are in communication with the Tamworth and Shoalhaven sites to ensure consistency across the state pilot sites. At the end of the 2 year pilot period, an assessment will determine if the scheme is rolled out across the state. To access the Domestic Violence Disclosure Scheme, you must live in the Sutherland or St.George local area command boundaries.
Police contact numbers are:
- Sutherland Police Station – 113-121 Flora St, Sutherland. Phone: 9542 0899
- St.George Police Station: 13 Montgomery Street, Kogarah. Phone: 8566 7499
- Sutherland Shire Family Services – Domestic Violence Disclosure Scheme Support Line – 9528 2933 Ext 125While Miranda Local Area Command is not currently a part of the DVDS pilot, they do have specialist officers on staff to respond to any and all domestic violence concerns.
“It is wonderful recognition to be selected as the key service provider for this trial. Sutherland Shire Family Services has extensive in-house expertise, quality programs, and does substantial work to build awareness within the community about the many forms of domestic violence.”, says Diane Manns, CEO of SSFS. Manns is the brains behind SSFS’s “Pull Ya Head In” Domestic Violence Awareness Campaign. The 2016 campaign focuses on educating men on their influence over their mates in stopping domestic violence, and also the impact on children when domestic violence occurs in the home. More information on the campaign is available at www.pullyaheadin.com.au
More information on the Domestic Violence Disclosure Scheme can be found here: