04:02pm Monday 21 August 2017

Lift the veil on domestic violence offenders, says UQ expert

That’s the message from Dr Deborah Walsh from The University of Queensland’s School of Nursing, Midwifery and Social Work who is imploring other states to follow New South Wales’ Domestic Violence Disclosure Scheme (DVDS).

Announced this week, the DVDS enables a partner – or third party with concerns – to find out if someone has a history of domestic violence and related offences.

“If we are going to seriously deal with domestic and family violence, then it’s the perpetrators who need our attention,” Dr Walsh said.

“I commend the New South Wales Government for tackling this issue head-on with a range of interventions that will prevent repeat offending.”

Dr Walsh said the DVDS is similar to what is referred to in the UK as Clare’s Law.

It is so named in reference to Clare Wood, who was murdered by a boyfriend that had served two prison sentences for violence against previous girlfriends.

Since being passed in 2014, Clare’s Law has led UK police to disclose information on more than 1300 occasions.

“I was a domestic violence support practitioner for 17 years and there was a situation I can vividly recall, which to me was soul-destroying,” Dr Walsh said.

“I worked with the third victim of the same perpetrator and what I observed was the offender becoming more sophisticated over time in the abuse and violence he used.

“He just became more effective at it and there was no intervention targeting his destructive behaviour.

“While the lives of women were left shattered and domestic violence services tried to pick up the pieces, he kept moving on to other partners.”

The DVDS is one facet of a wider $60 million domestic and family violence package announced by the New South Wales Government this week.

Dr Walsh is a co-signatory to a submission made to the Queensland Government proposed amendments to domestic and family violence law for Queensland.

She has recommended a crackdown on ‘technical breaches’ which have been overlooked and allowed offenders to remain in contact with victims.

Dr Walsh also has recommended a better link between police and court computers, along with a full audit of state courthouses to improve witness protection.

Media: Dr Deborah Walsh +617 3365 3342, d.walsh@social.uq.edu.au w.hall@uq.edu.au; UQ Communications Robert Burgin +617 3346 3035, +61 0448 410 364, r.burgin@uq.edu.au .


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