•  
  •  
 

Abstract

At the time of writing, the issue of domestic violence is under the spotlight in Australia. In Queensland, the focus on reducing the incidence of domestic violence has increased since the Taskforce on Domestic and Family Violence released the ‘Not Now, Not Ever’ report. One of the most recent developments in Queensland is the Queensland Law Reform Commission’s Review and Report about whether a domestic violence disclosure scheme (‘DVDS’) should be introduced in Queensland. A DVDS aims to provide potential victims of domestic violence (and sometimes others) with details of their partners’ or potential partners’ history of domestic violence. This arguably allows potential victims to make more informed decisions about the relationship moving forward. DVDSs exist in England and Wales, Scotland and New Zealand. However, as yet, given their short life span, there have not been comprehensive reviews as to the impact of such schemes upon victims and perpetrators. Further, although New South Wales is piloting a DVDS, a full evaluation as to the success or otherwise of the pilot is yet to be completed. As the empirical evidence about DVDSs is sparse, this article considers analogous schemes targeting sex offenders in Australia, the US and the UK, to better comprehend and evaluate the effectiveness of such schemes. The article argues that, given the results related to sex offender registers and associated notification systems, DVDSs will not be effective in reducing recidivism, nor will recipients of information be likely to take proactive action. Further, while victims of domestic abuse come from diverse backgrounds, and domestic violence encompasses various forms of relationships, the majority of victims are women, and most perpetrators are men. Similarly, most victims of sexual offences are women. This article argues that the use of DVDSs, like sex offender registers, shifts responsibility for avoiding such abuse from the male perpetrators and society generally onto mostly female recipients of the disclosed information. This is a continued manifestation of the patriarchal power underpinning such violence.

Share

COinS