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Domestic Violence Disclosure Scheme

South Australia’s Domestic Violence Disclosure Scheme (DVDS) provides an avenue for a person who may be at risk of domestic violence to get information about their partner or former partner, to help make decisions about their safety and the future of the relationship.

A request for information can be made by either:

  • the person who is feeling unsafe in their relationship
  • a person concerned about the welfare of someone they know.

The DVDS is an early intervention and prevention initiative. It is not an emergency response service.
Dial Triple Zero (000) in an emergency.
Dial 131 444 for non-urgent police assistance.

Apply online

You can apply online now or if you need assistance with filling out the form go to your local police station.

The form will be take around 10 minutes to complete.

What information may be disclosed?

Information from South Australia Police (SAPOL) records, which may be disclosed, includes:

  • convictions for relevant offences (including interstate)
  • relevant reports made to police and charges laid
  • current and historical intervention orders
  • breaches of intervention orders
  • other information relevant to the safety of the person at risk that police may hold.
I am worried about my own safety

How do I start the process?

You can make an application if you:

  • are aged 17 years or older
  • live in South Australia
  • are in a current or former intimate relationship, where there is still contact occurring between you and your former partner. It may or may not involve a sexual relationship and may be between people of the same or different sex
  • hold safety concerns based on some behaviour displayed by your partner or information that you have been told about your partner.

Concerns can be based around physical, verbal or controlling behaviours, emotional or psychological manipulation, or economic or social abuse or isolation.

Apply now

When you make your application you’ll need to provide proof of identity – e.g. birth certificate, driver’s licence, Medicare card, or passport.

You can apply online or if you need assistance with filling out the form:

  • go to your local police station
  • get assistance from a specialist domestic and family violence worker.

The form will take around 10 minutes to complete.

What happens after I have submitted the application?

Once received, SAPOL will assess your application and check our records for information about the person causing your concerns.

SAPOL will then share your details with a specialist domestic and family violence worker who will contact you to arrange a meeting at a time and location that is safe and convenient for you.

At the meeting, a police officer will advise you of the information that is relevant to your safety.

The specialist worker will provide support, facilitate access to services and help you plan for your ongoing safety and that of any children.

You may take a support person of your choice with you to the disclosure meeting.

You (and your support person) will be asked to sign an Undertaking form at the beginning of the meeting which is your promise not to publish, spread or misuse any information which is given to you. The police officer can explain this further at the time. The police officer will then tell you any relevant information about your partner verbally. Nothing is provided in writing.

This process will generally be completed within 14 working days. If police feel that there is a more urgent need to speak with you, this process can happen in a shorter time.

What happens if the police have no information about my partner?

If police undertake a background search for information about your partner but there are no records on the police systems, a meeting will still be arranged with you and you will be advised of this in person. A specialist domestic and family violence worker will still attend and be available to offer you support to further discuss your concerns.

The absence of information held by the police means that your partner or former partner has not come to police attention previously. While this may be of some reassurance to you, it does not guarantee your safety and you should remain cautious about your safety given the concerns and feelings that you are having within your relationship.

Any future instances of abuse or violence should be immediately reported to police so that action can be taken to keep you safe.

Will my partner know?

To ensure your safety, the police or specialist domestic and family violence worker will not inform your partner (the person causing your concerns) of any application or disclosure made about them.

Download the Information sheet

Read about examples of situations where a DVDS application may be warranted

I am concerned about the safety of someone I know

How do I start the process?

If you are concerned about the safety of someone you know because of what you have seen happening in the relationship or because you have been told information about the partner, you can use the DVDS.

A friend, neighbour, relative or specialist domestic and family violence worker can make an application.

You can make an application if:

  • you are aged 17 years or older
  • the person at risk is aged 17 years or older and lives in South Australia
  • the person at risk is in a current intimate relationship, or was previously in such a relationship where there is still contact occurring between the two people. It may or may not involve a sexual relationship and may be between people of the same or different sex
  • you hold safety concerns based on some behaviour displayed by the partner or information that you have been told about the partner.

Concerns can be based around physical, verbal or controlling behaviours, emotional or psychological manipulation, or economic or social abuse or isolation.

Apply now

When you make your application you’ll need to provide proof of identity – e.g. birth certificate, driver’s licence, Medicare card, or passport.

You can apply online or if you need assistance with filling out the form:

  • go to your local police station
  • get assistance from a specialist domestic and family violence support worker.

The form will take around 10 minutes to complete.

What happens after I have submitted the application?

SAPOL will assess your application and check our records for information about the person causing your concerns.

SAPOL will then share the details with a specialist domestic and family violence worker who will contact the person at risk to arrange a meeting at a time and location that is safe and convenient for them. The process will generally be completed within 14 working days. If police feel that there is a more urgent need to speak with the person at risk, this process can happen in a shorter time.

If you have indicated on the form that you wish to be contacted, you will be advised by the specialist worker how the application has progressed.

You will be advised that the person at risk has either attended a disclosure meeting, or has declined to participate in the disclosure meeting. The specialist worker will be able to offer you advice and assistance so that you can continue to support the person at risk beyond the DVDS process.

However the disclosure of any actual information held will only be made to the person at risk.

Do I have to tell the person I am concerned about that I have made an application?

This is encouraged as the person at risk is able to take a support person of their choice to the disclosure meeting.

However if you feel that telling the person will increase their risk of harm or cause them to stop confiding in you, or somehow aggravate the situation, you should not tell them. They will be contacted during the process as any information held can only be released to them directly, but they will not be advised of exactly who has made the application, unless you give permission on the application form for that to occur.

What happens if the police have no information about the partner?

If police undertake a background search for information about the partner but there are no records on the police systems, a meeting will still be arranged with the person at risk.

The absence of information held by the police means that the partner or former partner has not come to police attention previously. While this may be of some reassurance to the person at risk, it does not guarantee their safety.  The specialist domestic violence support service worker will still attend the meeting and be available to offer support and advice.

Will the partner know?

To ensure the safety of the person at risk, the subject of the application (the person causing your concerns) will not be informed of any application or disclosure made about them.

Download the Information sheet

Read about examples of situations where a DVDS application may be warranted

Examples of situations where a DVDS application may be warranted

Example 1 – Being subjected to controlling or ‘jealous’ behaviour

A person may not be a victim of actual physical violence or other offences but has noticed a pattern of behaviour based on control or apparent jealousy. This could include receiving phone calls from the partner in excess of what one would consider ‘normal’, or being asked constant questions about their whereabouts, who they are with, and other inquisitorial behaviour which seems extreme or unusual. This behaviour may make a person feel uncomfortable or uneasy and they may describe feeling ‘monitored’ or ‘watched’.

Example 2 – Concerns raised by family/friends

Family or friends of a person may be consistently expressing concerns to that person about behaviour they observe by the partner towards the person, or towards themselves. For example, family or friends may notice controlling behaviour or behaviour intended to isolate the person from their family or friends, or they may notice a change in the behaviour of the person themselves which they attribute to the partner’s behaviour or demeanour. Alternatively, family or friends may come into possession of information about the subject from another source, which causes them to be concerned for the person’s safety. In this scenario, either the person at risk or the third party could initiate an application.

Example 3 – Concerns raised by a previous partner of the person causing concerns

A person who learns that their former partner (who was previously abusive to them) is in a new relationship, they may be concerned for the safety of the new partner. The previous partner will know first-hand what happened in their own relationship and may fear that the behaviour will be repeated with the new partner. The previous partner could initiate a third party application so that information can be provided by police to the new partner of the person causing their concerns.

Examples of situations where a DVDS application is not warranted

Example 4 – Nervous about a new relationship

A person may be motivated by a fear of a reoccurrence of violence that occurred in a previous relationship and may attempt to be proactive with a new relationship to safeguard themselves. While this is understandable, mere curiosity is not sufficient to justify a disclosure unless there is some behaviour of concern present.

Example 5 – Safeguarding against a new person

A person who is engaging in online dating, or parents who are seeing their child enter a new relationship with someone unknown to them, may be seeking some reassurance that the new partner is a good person, and safe to be around. As with Example 4, mere curiosity or nervousness about the ‘unknown’ is not sufficient to justify a disclosure. There must be some concern held due to the behaviour of the new partner, or some information known about them that gives rise to a legitimate concern for safety.

Where else can I get help?

For advice and information relating to domestic violence or other safety concerns you may have, contact one of the following services:

  • 1800RESPECT (National 24/7 helpline): 1800 737 732
  • Domestic Violence Crisis Line: 1800 800 098
  • Women’s Information Service: 8303 0590 or 1800 188 158
  • Men's Referral Service: 1300 766 491
  • Child Abuse Report Line: 131 478
  • Lifeline (24/7 crisis line): 131 114
  • Relationships Australia: 1300 364 277
  • Kids Help Line: 1800 551 800.

Resources

Domestic Violence Disclosure Scheme brochure

Note: Brochures will be available in other languages shortly.

Information sheet - For person at risk

Information sheet - For third party applicant

Domestic Violence Disclosure Scheme poster