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Government supports domestic violence death review team recommendations

Last published on 24 Jul 2020 in Media Releases

A suite of domestic violence recommendations has been accepted by the NSW Government today, as its review of coercive control laws continues.

Attorney General and Minister for the Prevention of Domestic Violence Mark Speakman said monitoring coercive control laws in other jurisdictions is one of 34 recommendations made in the NSW Domestic Violence Death Review Team (DVDRT) report 2017-2019.

The DVDRT was tabled in NSW Parliament on 24 March, with the Government response provided to the Coroner today indicating all recommendations were supported or supported in principle.

“I thank the DVDRT’s expert members for their carefully considered advice to Government and I’m pleased to confirm our support for the recommendations,” Mr Speakman said.

“I’m particularly interested in the team’s recommendation concerning coercive control, its relationship to existing NSW laws, and regimes in other jurisdictions, including the UK.

“You don’t have to have bruises to be a victim of domestic violence – emotionally abusive, manipulative, coercive, and controlling behaviour are all forms of domestic abuse.

“While appropriate legislation that penalises this type of behaviour is an ongoing challenge for police and legal minds alike, evidence also demonstrates that coercive control  can often be a precursor to homicide, which is one of many significant considerations for criminalisation.

“My Department is well underway in its review of coercive control laws and I’ve had productive conversations with Scotland’s and England/Wales’ prosecuting authorities on their respective laws that differ in approach to this complex issue.”

Expanded use of AVL in criminal domestic violence matters, improved evaluation of programs, increased guidance on safety planning, and more promotion of perpetrator programs are amongst the report’s other recommendations.

Mr Speakman said the report also highlights successes stemming from the previous (2015-2017) DVDRT report, including law reform regarding non-fatal strangulation offences and Apprehended Domestic Violence Orders (ADVOs).

“Since reforming non-fatal strangulation laws in December 2018, 1566 charges have been laid – which gives a small insight into the terror faced by victim-survivors,” Mr Speakman said.

The DVDRT report outlines findings from the 53 domestic violence deaths that occurred between July 2014 and June 2016 and were examined by the Team between 2017 and 2019. Between 2000 and 2019, 530 people were killed as a result of domestic violence.

“The tragic rate of people being killed as a result of domestic violence in this state and in this country remains stubbornly, defiantly consistent,” Mr Speakman said.

“Driving down these horrendous homicides is one of the greatest challenges of our time and requires everyone across our communities to play their part alongside the Government.”

Further details on the DVDRT’s role and membership, as well as a copy of their latest report and the NSW Government’s response is available here.

For confidential advice, support and referrals related to domestic and family violence, contact: 1800 RESPECT (1800 737 732), The NSW Domestic Violence Line (1800 65 64 63) or Men's Referral Service (1300 766 491).

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