Government calls for community discussion on preventing domestic violence
A series of measures to help address domestic violence are being put out for public consultation by the State Government to better understand the facts and the community's views on this serious issue.
Attorney-General John Rau and Minister for the Status of Women Zoe Bettison today have released a Domestic Violence Discussion Paper.
The paper includes discussion of a Domestic Violence Disclosure Scheme, under which a person's history of domestic violence could be disclosed to a partner.
It also includes discussion of initiatives to support victims in speaking up and ways to improve homelessness services.
The discussion paper provides unprecedented levels of data collected by South Australia Police on domestic violence in South Australia, in an effort to shine a spotlight on the problem in our state.
The extent of domestic violence is uncovered with the analysis indicating taboos that repress reporting of incidents have started to break down.
The data suggests that victims are beginning to find their voice, aided by police who are being trained to be more vigilant and responsive to the issue.
The paper poses questions around eight topics and seeks the views of the community and experts.
The first topic is about a Domestic Violence Disclosure Scheme, based on the UK's "Clare's Law", which aims to give certain people access to information about a person's history of domestic violence.
Other topics in the paper include:
- How should comprehensive data be collected and used?
- Should videos recorded by police at a scene be accepted as evidence in court?
- Do intervention orders need expiry dates?
- Should changes be made to improve the confidentiality in court of counselling records?
- Drugs and alcohol can be a catalyst for offending. Should assessments for drug and alcohol abuse be mandatory as part of the intervention order process?
- How can we better deliver homelessness services to people experiencing domestic violence?
- How can victims be better supported in the workplace and other environments?
There is a six-week consultation period during which public feedback is invited via the online consultation hub YourSAy (www.yoursay.sa.gov.au/dvdiscussion). The discussion paper can be downloaded from the South Australian Attorney-General's website at: www.agd.sa.gov.au/dvdiscussion.
Public feedback is invited until Sunday, 4 September 2016.
In 2015, almost half of all assaults and homicide and homicide-related offences in South Australia involved domestic violence.
There were 8,417 reported occasions of domestic violence in SA. These included murder, manslaughter, attempted murder, sexual assault, assault and kidnapping or abduction.
Nearly 80 per cent of domestic violence-related assault victims were female.
The South Australian Government has already made significant reforms to address the problem of domestic violence.
Measures include strengthening intervention orders, implementing new tenancy provisions, establishing a Women's Domestic Violence Court Assistance Service and creating the nation-leading Multi-Agency Protection Service.
Attorney-General John Rau said:
"The first step in addressing a problem is to expose it.
"Domestic violence is everybody's business. The discussion paper encourages the public to take notice and get involved.
"The discussion paper shines a spotlight into the dark corners, providing unprecedented levels of information and analysis in South Australia.
"The topics set out potential areas for reform to create a framework for authorities and the community to work together to reduce domestic violence.
"Success will hinge on the measures being appropriate, efficient and effective – qualities which require community support.
"We encourage you to read the discussion paper and contribute to establishing a system which brings an end to domestic violence."
Status of Women Minister Zoe Bettison said:
"The fact that a significant number of South Australian women do not feel safe - even in their own homes - should be totally unacceptable to all of us.
"As a government and as a community, we must work hard to eliminate domestic violence and I urge South Australians to be part of the solution."