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DV register a positive step, but what happens when a woman finds out about her partner's violent past? -

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ELEANOR HALL: Support services for victims of domestic violence have cautiously welcomed moves to set up a new register of offenders in New South Wales.

The State Government has announced plans for a police-run register that will allow women who are worried about their safety to check on the history of their partner.

Domestic Violence NSW says it's a positive step but that it needs to be backed up by resources to look after those women who find out that their partner has a violent history.

Lindy Kerin reports.

LINDY KERIN: The domestic violence register is an Australian first.

The New South Wales Minister for the Prevention of Domestic Violence, Pru Goward, says it will empower women and allow them to make informed choices about their relationship.

PRU GOWARD: It will enable women, or their family, or their friends, who hold grave fears about their safety to request information about a new partner's violent past.

It will be a way of empowering women to make decisions about their safety and take power away from the perpetrators.

LINDY KERIN: A similar register was set up in the United Kingdom after the death of Clare Wood in 2009.

She was murdered by her ex-boyfriend who had previous convictions for harassment and assault.

After she died, her father Michael Brown campaigned for laws that would allow women to access police records.

MICHAEL BROWN: I think Clare would still have been here today, no doubt about it. My daughter, I've said it time and time again, my daughter wasn't stupid. She wouldn't have put herself or her daughter, my granddaughter in harms way.

LINDY KERIN: The New South Wales Government's discussion paper released today covers a range of possible of options and looks at the UK model.

Pru Goward again.

PRU GOWARD: The British experience is that women feel more safe, that they feel better informed, more confident about making decisions.

They don't necessarily leave once they're told, but they are more comforted about the decisions that they then make.

Whether it reduces the rate of domestic violence, it's too early for the British model to demonstrate and of course, the same will apply here.

This does not happen overnight and there is no silver bullet. This is just a very powerful tool.

LINDY KERIN: Moo Baulch from Domestic Violence New South Wales says she's worried about what happens after a woman is notified about her partners history

She says services are already stretched and support must be available for women who try to escape.

MOO BAULCH: But we live in a society, in a system which, in which a lot of victim blaming occurs and if she has some information disclosed and she chooses not to leave the relationship and that might be for a range of different reasons, then how that might be used against a woman with children who has care and protection or family law implications.

I think we need to make sure that this is, as with any kind of you know, scheme or new policy around domestic and family violence, this is about empowering a woman, giving her support options and helping make her safer.

I think a lot of this will be nutted out in the details through the round tables in the next few weeks or so.

LINDY KERIN: So you've got some serious reservations about it?

MOO BAULCH: Look, I think it needs to be sorted out very, very carefully. I mean, I think the support system itself is crucial to this working in the long term and making women safer and we, you know, we need more money in the system. Basically it's at breaking point in some areas already.

LINDY KERIN: The State Opposition's Jodie Harrison also has concerns about how the register will work and she argues it should be a national scheme.

JODIE HARRISON: Domestic violence offenders sometimes travel between states for various reasons, including avoiding prosecution.

It's important that people who are in relationships with people who are domestic violence perpetrators in other states are away of what's been happening in the state they came from

LINDY KERIN: The Government will be taking submission until the middle of next month.

After consultations it will trial the scheme in four different locations.

ELEANOR HALL: Lindy Kerin reporting.