Limited use of Domestic Violence Disclosure Scheme during trial in St George and the shire

Vexed issue: The scheme and other initiatives are discussed in 2017 by Minister for the Prevention of Domestic Violence Pru Goward, Commissioner Mick Fuller, Attorney-General Mark Speakman and domestic violence workers.
Vexed issue: The scheme and other initiatives are discussed in 2017 by Minister for the Prevention of Domestic Violence Pru Goward, Commissioner Mick Fuller, Attorney-General Mark Speakman and domestic violence workers.

An initiative to combat domestic violence, which was trialled in St George and Sutherland Shire, had a very small uptake, a review has found.

in addition, the initiative did not meet the anticipated target group and the cost was high - an average of nearly $4000 for each person assisted.

The Domestic Violence Disclosure Scheme (DVDS) allowed people to check with police whether their partner had a record of violence.

A concerned family member, friend or a professional with an ongoing relationship was also permitted to make an application.

The scheme was a first in Australia when the state government introduced it in 2016 in four police commands, including St George and Sutherland.

There is in principle support for the DVDS in the service community, but this has not translated into significant demand for the scheme to date.

Review report

Two-year pilots were extended until July 2019, when the final report of the government-commissioned review was quietly released.

The review found only 105 applications were received from mid-April 2016 to October 31, 2017, including 18 in St George and 11 in Sutherland.

"There is in principle support for the DVDS in the service community, but this has not translated into significant demand for the scheme to date," the report said.

"The demand for the scheme has been limited thus far and there is little sign of any increase in demand over time as the DVDS has become more established."

The report said the scheme was envisioned as an early intervention initiative, but only a minority of applicants were in the early stages of a relationship.

Most had been in a longer relationship with their partner, and some had children together.

The report said the average cost per application was $3,959 plus police costs.

"Given the relatively 'light touch' of contact with many applicants (in some cases, brief contact over a two week period), these costs are very high," the report said.

The review also found that while the number of applications was "modest", the scheme had been of value to individual applicants.

Another positive was the "strong partnerships" which developed between police and domestic violence support services.