Domestic Violence Disclosure Schemes: A National Review

Investigators: Associate Professor Kate Fitz-Gibbon and Professor Sandra Walklate
Research Fellow: Ellen Reeves
Project contact: Associate Professor Kate Fitz-Gibbon

About the project

In 2014 family violence was declared a national emergency in Australia. In the years since there has been extensive law reform activity. Domestic violence disclosure schemes have emerged within this context as a policy option that may improve safety outcomes for victims. However, there is currently no evidence as to the impact of these schemes and no consultation with victims as to their value. This project aims to generate the evidence required to inform decisions about the introduction of these schemes, to better understand what victim/survivors want from them, and how such schemes can be effectively operationalised.

This project will generate new knowledge nationally and internationally on the impact, merits and risks of domestic violence disclosure schemes. It aims to:

  1. Provide new insights into the views of victim/survivors, including their views on the value of a DVDS, the perceived benefits and risks of a DVDS, as well as the (potential) impact of a DVDS,
  2. Document specialist family violence sector views on the need for, and merits of a DVDS across Australian state and territory jurisdictions,
  3. Examine how victim/survivors from diverse communities’ access, use and experience DVDS its implementation and impacts, and
  4. In the light of international developments, make policy and practice recommendations to inform improved operation and/or introduction more broadly of DVDS across Australia.

This national project will be the first to examine the risks of a DVDS in detail and decipher the extent to which a DVDS provides an effective intervention for victim/survivors of intimate partner violence in enhancing their safety. This project will adopt qualitative and quantitative approaches to examining DVDS across Australia centring women’s and practitioner’s experiences of such schemes where appropriate.


This project has received funding from the Australian Research Council through the Discovery Project Scheme (DP210100158).


Clare’s Law, (the first DVDS internationally), was rolled out across England and Wales in March 2014 and is likely to be put on a statutory footing in the Domestic Abuse Bill currently before parliament. Such schemes have also been adopted in Scotland, Ireland, Saskatchewan (Canada), New Zealand and some Australian states.

In Australia iterations of Clare’s Law (DVDS) have three objectives:

  1. To strengthen the ability of the police and other multi-agency partnerships to provide appropriate protection and support to victims at risk of domestic violence;
  2. To reduce incidents of domestic violence through prevention; and
  3. To reduce the health and criminal justice-related costs of domestic violence.

This project will directly address gaps in knowledge and emerging concerns about these schemes. The findings will be relevant to current policy discussions and evaluations of DVDS in all Australian state and territory jurisdictions as well as in comparable international jurisdictions, including New Zealand, Canada, United States, Scotland, England and Wales.

Project Advisory Board

The project team are supported by a Project Advisory Board that will provide key input and feedback over the life of the project. Advisory Board members are:

  • Ashlee Donohue, Mudgin-Gal Aboriginal Women’s Centre
  • Assistant Commissioner Lauren Callaway, Victoria Police
  • Dr Heather Nancarrow
  • Dr Jane Wangmann, University of Technology Sydney
  • Megan Hughes, Women’s Safety Services
  • Professor Denise Wilson, Auckland University of Technology

Relevant Outputs

Other relevant research and media commentary

Relevant research briefs