Domestic Violence Disclosure Scheme
WHAT IS THE DOMESTIC VIOLENCE DISCLOSURE SCHEME?
The NSW Domestic Violence Disclosure Scheme helps people who may be at risk of domestic violence to find out if their current or former partner has a history of violent criminal offences.
HOW CAN THE SCHEME HELP PREVENT DOMESTIC VIOLENCE?
Domestic violence is usually characterised by a pattern of abusive and controlling behaviours, and perpetrators often repeat these behaviours in their relationships. The pilot Scheme aims to prevent domestic violence from occurring by empowering people at risk to make informed decisions about their relationships.
WHO CAN MAKE AN APPLICATION?
A person who may be at risk, or a concerned third party, such as friend, relative or professional who has an ongoing relationship with the person who may be at risk may apply for a disclosure. To apply, the person who may be at risk must live in one of the pilot regions of the Scheme and be aged 16 years or older. The third party will also need to be aged 16 years and over to apply. An application form will need to be completed and submitted at a police station in the pilot region where the person who may be at risk lives. Application forms are available at www.domesticviolence.nsw.gov.au/dvds. Take care when completing an application as it is an offence to provide false or misleading information in an application, and penalties apply.
HOW DOES THE SCHEME WORK?
Once an application is completed it is submitted to the Police Station closest to where the applicant resides. Police will complete a Domestic Violence Safety Assessment, to determine if the person may be facing a serious threat to their life, health or safety. A local criminal history check will be completed relating to the subject and then Police will apply for a more thorough criminal history for NSW will be completed. If the Police determine there is a serious threat, the disclosure will be completed within 48 hours. Police or the Domestic Violence Support Worker will contact the applicant to arrange a date and time for the disclosure to occur. Even 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 as determined by the police. Where no serious risk is determined, a disclosure may take up to 14 days to be completed.
WHAT INFORMATION WILL BE DISCLOSED?
Information on proven violent offences will be made available 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 has a relevant offence in their criminal history.
WHAT WILL HAPPEN AT THE DISCLOSURE?
The police will advise the person who may be at risk at the police station or at another safe location. A domestic violence support service will be present to provide support and help plan for their safety. The support service may also arrange other help such as translation services, trauma counselling and other specialist support as required. The person who may be at risk may bring a friend, relative, or a professional working with them or to the disclosure. Any person present at a disclosure will be required to sign a legal document stating that they will not misuse any information disclosed. To ensure the safety of those who may be at risk, the subject of the application will not be informed of any application or disclosure made about them.
WILL THE THIRD PARTY RECEIVE THE DISCLOSURE?
The disclosure will only be made in person to the person who may be at risk, unless there are exceptional circumstances as determined by the police. A third party may be present at the disclosure only where the person who may be at risk has invited them to be there as a support person.
WHAT ARE RELEVANT CONVICTIONS?
Relevant convictions are for personal violence offences committed within a domestic relationship. These include most personal violence offences such as murder, manslaughter, physical and sexual assault, property damage, stalking and intimidation, and breaches of an Apprehended Domestic Violence Order. Other relevant convictions include certain personal violence offences committed outside of a domestic relationship, sexual offences, child abuse offences and murder. If a relevant conviction exists, the police will provide this information to the person who may be at risk. Some convictions and orders will not be disclosed under the Scheme. These include:
- Offences committed outside NSW
- Offences where no conviction has been recorded
- Convictions that have become spent
- Juvenile convictions
- Apprehended Domestic Violence Orders (these orders are not recorded on criminal histories)
WHAT HAPPENS IF THERE ARE NO RELEVANT CONVICTIONS?
If a person who may be at risk makes the application and their current or former partner does not have a relevant conviction, the police will invite the person back to the police station and tell them of the outcome in person. A support service worker will be available to offer support to further discuss their relationship concerns and help plan for their safety. The absence of a criminal conviction does not mean there is no risk of domestic violence, and the person who may be at risk, or other concerned parties, should report any future concerns or instances of violence to police.
WHERE CAN I GET IMMEDIATE HELP?
IN AN EMERGENCY CALL 000
TFSS provides specialist domestic and family violence support services: Phone 1800 073 388
Or you may like to contact
1800RESPECT; Phone 1800 737 732
Child Protection Helpline; Phone 132 111 (TTY 1800 212 936)
The Domestic Violence Line; Phone 1800 656 463 (TTY 1800 671 442)
Translating and Interpreting Service; Phone 131 450
For more information visit; www.domesticviolence.nsw.gov.au/dvds