The Australian government is committed to reducing domestic violence in Australia. Subsequently, the Department of Immigration and Border Protection has recently introduced some changes to their partner visa program to reflect this commitment.
To date sponsors are not required to provide police clearances, unless the sponsorship includes an underage child. However, partner and prospective marriage visas lodged on or after 18 Nov 2016 are subject to a change in legislation.
Sponsors are now required to produce federal police clearances as part of the visa application process if their case officer requests them to do so. A refusal to produce the requested police checks may result in a refusal of the visa application.
If a sponsor is found to have a significant criminal record in a 'relevant offence' in their past, the criminal record may be disclosed to the visa applicant and the application be refused. Relevant offences include for example violence, harassment, people smuggling, human trafficking, etc. A significant criminal record is typically a term of imprisonment of 12 months or more.