South Coast to trial Australian-first domestic violence scheme

Australian first: A new scheme to be trialled in the Shoalhaven will allow people to apply for information about a person's violent past.

Australian first: A new scheme to be trialled in the Shoalhaven will allow people to apply for information about a person's violent past.

The Shoalhaven is one of four NSW Police commands to trial an Australian-first scheme to curb domestic violence.

The Domestic Violence Disclosure Scheme was announced as part of a $60 million state government package to target perpetrators and support women, men and children who have experienced family violence.

Under the scheme - to be rolled out in early 2016 - anyone with concerns can make an application to police for information about a person’s violent offending history.

NSW Police spokesman for domestic and family violence, Assistant Commissioner Mick Fuller, said the Shoalhaven was included due to its support services.

‘’The Shoalhaven already has strong non-government organisation partnerships, with NGOs working in the (Nowra) police station,’’ he said.

‘’Not every person who comes in will get the information that’s going to satisfy all their concerns, so it’s important to have NGOs to give these people the support and information they need from a social perspective, rather than a law enforcement perspective.’’

The Illawarra and Shoalhaven may also benefit from other initiatives being rolled out as part of the package, such as the creation of specialist police squads targeting domestic violence offenders.

NSW Police Illawarra domestic violence co-ordinator Gerry Orkin welcomed this week’s announcement by Premier Mike Baird.

‘’We would welcome anything that makes a difference in keeping people safe and addressing offenders’ behaviours,’’ he said.

‘’The disclosure scheme in particular is a first for Australia and it’s important to pilot these kinds of culture-changing initiatives.’’

Mr Orkin said domestic violence was a major issue in the region, with the Lake Illawarra, Wollongong and Shoalhaven police commands ranking in the top 10 areas in the state for the problem.

‘’Depending on the location, 40 to 50 per cent of police work can involve domestic violence,’’ he said.

‘’The issue won’t go away in the short term. We need more support for women, more pressure placed on perpetrators and more community education to decrease the tolerance of violence.’’

Mr Orkin said domestic violence was found across ‘’class, race and culture’’ and required a multi-pronged approach.

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