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‘Coercive control’ is a form of domestic abuse that involve patterns of behaviour which have the cumulative effect of denying victim-survivors their autonomy and independence. This abuse can include physical, sexual, psychological or financial abuse.
The NSW Parliament has passed the Crimes Legislation Amendment (Coercive Control) Act 2022 (the Act), which makes coercive control between current and former intimate partners a criminal offence. In doing so, NSW has become the first Australian state or territory to create a stand-alone offence for coercive control. The Act further strengthens justice system responses to domestic abuse and increases protections for those living through domestic and family violence.
The offence will come into force in 2024. This represents an extensive implementation period, which will be at least 14 months and up to 19 months, to allow plenty of time for training, resourcing, education and raising community awareness.
Implementation of these landmark reforms will be overseen by a multi-disciplinary implementation and evaluation taskforce, led by the Secretary of the Department of Communities and Justice and supported by reference groups to provide advice and recommendations.
This Bill delivers on the NSW Government’s commitments in December 2021 to develop, publicly consult on and introduce a standalone offence of coercive control in the 2022 spring session of Parliament.
These commitments were a key part of the NSW Government’s response to the recommendations of the Parliamentary Joint Select Committee on Coercive Control.
The NSW Government has consistently said that any legislative reform must be approached with great care and caution to ensure it does not unintentionally put those in our community we are seeking to help in further danger. The Act is the product of careful consideration and extensive consultation to ensure the offence is calibrated appropriately to capture only conduct of the very serious standard deserving of criminal sanction, avoiding over-reach.
Beyond legislation, the NSW Government’s response to domestic and family violence already includes significant investments across housing, crisis accommodation, counselling, case management, court advocacy, policing, education and health.
As part of the 2022-23 Budget, the NSW Government announced in June 2022 that more women and children experiencing domestic and family violence will be supported by $69.6 million in new funding, building on the NSW Government’s landmark $484.3 million investment in housing and related support services as part of the COVID-19 Economic Recovery Strategy.
These legislative reforms are also backed by $5.6 million in initial funding for coercive control training for police, in multiple awareness campaigns and in educational resources.
The Department of Communities and Justice released a discussion paper in October 2020 on coercive and controlling behaviour in the context of domestic and family violence in NSW. The discussion paper highlights key questions for any potential reform.
This paper was a guide to help inform further consideration of this complex topic.
View or download a copy of the coercive control discussion paper. (PDF, 729.9 KB)
In December 2021, the NSW Government committed to supporting, in full, in part or in principle, 17 of the 23 unanimous recommendations by the Parliamentary Joint Select Committee on Coercive Control.
This included consulting on and introducing a stand-alone offence to address coercive control in intimate partner relationships as well as possible amendments to other existing laws.
Read the NSW Government's response to the Parliamentary Joint Select Committee.
If you or someone you know are in immediate danger, call the Police on Triple Zero (000).
For confidential advice, support and referrals, contact 1800 RESPECT on 1800 737 732.
28 Nov 2022
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