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NSW Government’s coercive control reform welcomed in Hunter


The NSW Government’s hard-line stance on coercive control has been applauded by Hunter politicians and domestic and family violence organisations alike.

A draft bill, which will criminalise the action, was released for public comment late last week ahead of its introduction to parliament.

Coercive control is a form of domestic abuse that involves patterns of behaviour, which have the cumulative effect of denying victim-survivors their autonomy and independence.

It can involve physical, sexual, psychological or financial mistreatment.

NSW Attorney General Mark Speakman said the draft Crimes Legislation Amendment (Coercive Control) Bill 2022, to outlaw coercive control in intimate partner relationships, would provide further protections for victim-survivors of domestic (DV) and family violence. 

“Coercive control is complex, is insidious and causes untold harm for its victims,” he explained.

“Creating a stand-alone offence will strengthen our criminal justice system’s responses to abuse.

“But, consultation is critical to ensure these reforms only capture very serious incidences of abuse, avoid overreach and do not unintentionally endanger those in our community we are seeking to help.”

Charlestown MP Jodie Harrison, who spoke at the March to end Domestic and Sexual Violence in Newcastle at the weekend, supported the move.

“For a long time, NSW Labor has advocated for coercive control legislation, which will criminalise behaviours that put people – mainly women and children – in danger,” she said.

“As Shadow Minister for the Prevention of Domestic Violence, I welcome the release of the draft bill.

“It is one important part of a journey towards preventing more tragedies in our community.

“My hope is also that legislation will result in a better understanding right across our community of what is appropriate behaviour in a relationship.

“Coercive control is the start of DV.

“So, we need more education about domestic violence in schools, in workplaces and in our police forces.

“Let’s keep up the fight.”

Full Stop Australia also congratulated the NSW Government – and called on other states and territories to follow.

“This is a landmark decision,” CEO Hayley Foster said.

“It is a win for a diverse range of survivors and frontline workers from right across the state.

“Finally, the law will catch up to our current understanding of domestic and family violence.

“We know that the Domestic Violence Death Review by the NSW Coroner’s Court found that 99% of domestic homicides are preceded by coercive control.

“It is the single biggest correlating factor.

“As a result of these reforms, women and children in particular will be much safer.

“It will also send a clear message that abusive behaviours will not be tolerated.

“Domestic abuse and coercive control are not restricted to intimate partners, so we will recommend an amendment to the proposed legislation to ensure all victim-survivors of coercive control can access these reforms.”

Full Stop Australia director of counselling services Tara Hunter, who manages the national violence and abuse trauma counselling helpline 1800 FULL STOP, praised the NSW Government, too.

“This legislation will serve as an acknowledgement for victim-survivors of the devastating impacts of coercive control – impacts that would otherwise be invisible,” she added.

“It is also essential that the new laws are supported by widespread and comprehensive training of police, prosecutors and the judiciary, and a broader public awareness campaign so that everyone knows their rights and obligations.”

Full Stop Australia is hopeful the legislation and reform package will serve as a blueprint for other Australian states and territories.

Submissions on the Crimes Legislation Amendment (Coercive Control) Bill 2022 can be made via the NSW Government’s ‘Have Your Say’ website.

The consultation period closes on 31 August.

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