NSW Government announces plans for a domestic violence register

Criminal Law

The NSW Government has announced plans to be the first State to have a domestic violence register.


The scheme will be modelled on a UK equivalent, and will allow individuals to obtain disclosures from police into their partners’ history of domestic violence (if any).

To begin with, the register will only consist of men convicted of a domestic assault crime, but it is understood the Government is considering rolling this out to include those the subject of an ADVO after some time.

Only persons who are in a domestic relationship with the person concerned will be able to access the information.

If the register only includes those with criminal convictions, it is unlikely to make much of an impact. ADVOs are easier to prove than criminal acts: in addition to the higher burden of proof for crimes versus (beyond reasonable doubt / on the balance of probabilities), it can also be hard to prove an offence such as assault if there is no evidence of physical injury, or no outside eyewitnesses (as in most cases of domestic assault). Of course, offences under the Crimes (Domestic and Personal Violence) Act 2007, such as stalking and intimidation, would be included under the register.

An important component of any future domestic violence register will be what exactly “qualifies” a person to be on the register: will only those subject to a final ADVO be included? What about those who have been subject to an interim ADVO, but for whom final orders were not made (that is, an interim order ordered by a court)? What about provisional orders, for matters which never proceeded to court (that is, orders made by the police after a complaint which was subsequently withdrawn)? Is it will be important that those persons who were subject to a complaint which was not proven in court retain the benefit of the doubt and not be subject to the stain of a domestic violence allegation for years to come? Or should the balance favour protection of society, and thereby protect individuals from partners who might have been threatening enough to beat ADVOs by inducing their former partners to remove their complaint?

This is a tricky political question. SCD Lawyers will follow this development.

Read more: http://www.dailytelegraph.com.au/news/nsw/domestic-violence-register-to-protect-women-who-fear-their-partners-past/story-fni0cx12-1227250351374

Image credit: The Daily Telegraph

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