Mike Knott

Govt remains silent on 2 key domestic violence issues

THE New South Wales Government is taking strong measures to curb the growing scourge of domestic violence - even limiting offenders' ability to gain a new partner.

But important questions still remain unanswered.

Premier Mike Baird has promised to create a statewide register to allow people to look into their partners' criminal history for convictions of spousal or sexual abuse.

The Coalition also plans to introduce an information-sharing scheme between police and non-government support organisations.

But Pru Goward, who will soon take over a newly-created portfolio as Minister for the Prevention of Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault, is keeping quiet on two major issues.

Questions put to Ms Goward about whether she supported the creation of specialist domestic and family violence courts were ignored, as were those relating to the creation of respectful relationships education in all NSW schools.


Both these issues are central to our Terror At Home campaign, which argues both short-term changes to victim responses and long-term changes in cultural attitudes are needed.

But so far only the criminal history register and the information-sharing scheme have been made official government policies.

"The NSW Government has committed to a pilot of 'Clare's Law' domestic violence disclosure scheme to provide people with the opportunity to find out if their partner has a violent past," Ms Goward said.

"Empowering individuals with the truth of their partner's violent history will be a significant step to preventing horrendous cases of abuse."

The Coalition's proposed "It Stops Here" reforms aim to streamline the referral pathway for victims who have contact with police.

Officers will assess victims' risk level and, if deemed "at threat" or "at serious threat", they will be referred immediately to a welfare group with expertise in dealing with domestic violence.

Those victims considered most at risk will be directed to a "safety action meeting", chaired by a senior police officer and attended by key government and non-government agencies with decision-making power.

Measures can then be taken to pull the victim out of dangerous home situations, such as securing public housing and taking out Apprehended Violence Orders.

The program will first be rolled out in Bankstown, Parramatta, Broken Hill and Tweed Heads, with a view to extending it across the state.

"For the first time in the state's history, representatives from frontline government agencies and NGOs are meeting together and sharing information on victims to manage their cases effectively," Ms Goward said. 

February 28

Not Now, Not Ever report is handed to Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk by the Queensland Special Taskforce on Domestic and Family Violence, headed up by former governor-general Quentin Bryce.

March 5

During the New South Wales election campaign, the NSW Liberal party promises 24 new domestic violence experts in the police force and a Domestic Violence Offenders' Register.

March 6

Queensland Attorney-General Yvette D'Ath says the state is not closed to any ideas, but would work through recommendations from its own domestic violence taskforce.

March 14

APN's Australian Regional Media launches its Terror At Home campaign, supported by Australian of the Year Rosie Batty and retired rugby league star Steve Renouf.

March 18

Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk tells APN Newsdesk exclusively she will form a committee to oversee domestic and family violence legislation. Ms Palaszczuk said the Communities, Disability Services and Domestic and Family Violence Prevention Committee would advise Women's Minister Shannon Fentiman and Disability Services Minister Coralee O'Rourke on the legislation that needed to be introduced into parliament.

March 18

The ACT Victims of Crime commissioner John Hinchey argues for significant changes to the way local authorities and support services respond to domestic violence. He warns domestic and sexual violence needs to be treated differently to other types of assault because it carries a higher risk.

March 19

A Senate inquiry into domestic violence says the Abbott Government should restore $583m funding it cut from domestic violence services. There is also uncertainty over 39 domestic violence services whose federal money runs out on June 30.

March 23

$115 million in funding restored to the National Partnership Agreement on Homelessness. The money goes to first-response services and long-term help for homeless people, much of which goes to helping domestic violence victims escape from violent relationships.

March 25

Amnesty International, the National Congress of Australia's First Peoples, Reconciliation Australia and the Law Council signed a letter to the Attorney-General urging the Abbott Government to rectify $6 million cut to community legal centres, part of which is used for legal advice for domestic violence.

March 31

Following Queensland law symposium, lawyers urge Attorney-General Yvette D'Ath to ensure greater protection for those suffering from domestic violence.

April 1

NSW Government MP Pru Goward is appointed Australia's first Minister for the Prevention of Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault.

April 1

Queensland Government announces families affected by domestic and family violence in North Queensland, Ipswich region, Redlands, Brisbane, Sunshine Coast, Redcliffe, Pine Rivers and Toowoomba will share in an extra $17 million over the next three years under funding approved by the Department of Communities - part of funding worth $49 million over five years. Women and Families Minister Shannon Fentiman says the government is considering Not Now, Not Ever report recommendations.

April 3

National anti-domestic violence group Our Watch gives $250,000 to four sports organisations prepared to take action against Australia's family violence epidemic through the Federal Government's Sports Grants Bank program.

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