Hundreds of South Australians used disclosure scheme to investigate partner's potential history of domestic violence

Warning: About 25,000 domestic violence matters are reported to police annually.
Warning: About 25,000 domestic violence matters are reported to police annually.

More than 250 South Australians at risk of domestic or family violence have asked police to investigate their partner's criminal history.

The state government's Domestic Violence Disclosure Scheme (DVDS), launched in October last year, has received a strong uptake in its first 12 months of operation.

The scheme allows a person to apply to South Australia Police to get details of violent offences committed by their current or former partner, as well as past intervention orders.

Offences include physical and sexual assault, property damage, stalking and threats - with all relevant charges disclosed regardless of conviction. There were 170 applications accepted for further consideration and of those 98.2 per cent were from women.

A total of 15 people assessed were at imminent risk of harm, with disclosure meetings provided as a matter of urgency.

Minister for Human Services Michelle Lensink said the strong uptake and results speak for themselves.

"The fact that 170 applications were accepted for further consideration highlights there are South Australians at risk of, or experiencing, domestic and family violence and this scheme is invaluable," Ms Lensink said.

"The Domestic Violence Disclosure Scheme is important way to help South Australians take control of their situation and possibly provide a safer environment for themselves and their children."

Statistics showed 67 per cent of the applications were made by people with children in their care and 34pc were made by people concerned for the safety and wellbeing of a woman they knew within their community.

A total of 89 applications were from regional areas, where rates of domestic and family violence are traditionally higher than in urban areas. The scheme also provides every applicant access to a specialist domestic violence worker for risk assessment, safety planning and ongoing support.

Women's Safety Services SA operations manager Mergho Ray said the scheme was a vital early intervention tool.

"Quite a large per cent, 63.5pc of people that we talk to, have never been connected with a domestic violence service before and that is largely because it often comes to crisis point before people contact the police or domestic violence services," she said.

"When the person at risk, as its called in this scheme, notices red flags or someone else as third party has noticed red flags it provides the person at risk with information and information is knowledge, knowledge is power.

"With that they can absolutely make an informed decision about the future of their relationships.

"Whether or not they want to leave or stay, quite a few after hearing a disclosure, choose to go in a different direction. There are some that will remain, but what you do have is the knowledge is to keep yourself safe."

The state government has allocated a further $383,000 to continue the scheme until June 2020.