Clare's Law

The Hon. T.A. FRANKS (14:53:12): I seek leave to make a brief explanation before asking the Leader of the Government, on behalf of the Premier, a question about Clare's Law and the protection of children.

Leave granted.

The Hon. T.A. FRANKS: All members would be aware that White Ribbon Day was last week. They would also be aware of the government's very important announcement to consider what is called Clare's Law in the UK. I note that in announcing this law the Premier made reference to this law protecting people like Zahra Abrahimzadeh and Luke Batty. I note the words of Ms Batty, whose son Luke was murdered by his father, in supporting Clare's Law. She stated:

I think we spend all our time protecting the perpetrators of violence and I think we should be looking at what we can do to support our victims.

So you know for me I certainly was a victim too of privacy and not being told that Luke's father was facing charges of child pornography. I mean these are incredibility important pieces of information that help you to understand perhaps the severity of the situation you are in.

There were other things I didn't know Greg [Luke's father] had done or was doing, involving violence with other people, that would have given me a lot more clarity on perhaps the extreme danger I was in.

My question to the Premier, via the Minister, is: will Clare's Law also consider protecting not just the partners of those perpetrators but also those who are ex-partners and parents of children who are also in danger?

The Hon. G.E. GAGO (Minister for Employment, Higher Education and Skills, Minister for Science and Information Economy, Minister for the Status of Women, Minister for Business Services and Consumers) (14:54:53): I thank the honourable member for her most important question and for her ongoing interest and advocacy in relation to protecting and supporting women and children against violence. Indeed, the Premier recently announced that we would look at the possibility of legislation that could assist; in effect, a perpetrator database that police would be able to use in a proactive rather than a reactive way. I know that creates a range of complexities. It is not a simple thing to do; nevertheless, we believe it is time for us to take up the challenge and to look at seeing whether we can apply something like that here in South Australia.

Of course, here in South Australia we already have a serial offender database, but it does not work in quite the same way. It was an election commitment to develop a database that identified serial domestic violence offenders. That database was operational from late 2014 and I have been informed that as of 25 November 2015 there were 426 alleged offenders. These are alleged offenders only, alleged perpetrators, against whom there has been a complaint made but they have not necessarily had charges laid against them or been found guilty of any offence. That is why it is a database that cannot be as readily shared as the database we are now looking at. Nevertheless, it is still an incredibly valuable database and we are one of the few states—in fact, I think we are the only state, although I will double-check that—to actually have this serial offender database.

The development of the database aligns with our agenda of protecting women against domestic violence. It identifies serial domestic violence offenders across women's domestic violence and Aboriginal family violence services, and improves risk management in key services involving the Family Safety Framework, information sharing and risk assessment processes. Previously, women's domestic violence and Aboriginal family violence services were not able to easily identify whether an offender had had a complaint against him previously, but the database enables 18 domestic and family violence services, including the Domestic Violence Gateway, to identify offenders who have had more than one victim who has accessed their services, and to share that information with agencies such as the police.

As I said, we are very pleased we have that database up and going. It certainly has its uses, but I think extending that to a system where police can actively call a potential victim and forewarn them about their association with an offender is a very worthwhile step to explore.

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