$5.6m to implement coercive control laws
The NSW Government today introduced a bill into Parliament to create a standalone criminal offence of coercive control towards current and former intimate partners, backed by $5.6 million in initial funding for education, training and awareness.
Attorney General Mark Speakman said the Crimes Legislation Amendment (Coercive Control) Bill 2022 delivers on the NSW Government’s commitment to support NSW women, victim-survivors of domestic violence and frontline services by outlawing coercive control.
“Australians grieved with the loved ones of Hannah Clarke and her children, and Dr Preethi Reddy. Their tragic deaths put the spotlight on this insidious form of violence. But they are not isolated cases and they make it tragically clear why we must take act now,” Mr Speakman said.
“Across the nation, recognition of this abusive pattern of behaviour is growing, and our laws must change with it. NSW is taking that step today.
“Coercive control is difficult to identify, difficult to legislate and difficult to prosecute. But these challenges are no excuse for not acting – this is a matter of life and death.
“The bill we have introduced today is our best recommendation of the way forward, informed by many years of extensive consultation, research and analysis. It reflects a careful, cautious and measured approach.”
Minister for Women Bronnie Taylor said until relatively recently, coercive control was not a well-known phrase.
“Coercive control involves patterns of behaviour where the perpetrator deliberately isolates victim-survivors from friends, family and support systems, making detection even harder,” Mrs Taylor said.
“Today the NSW Government is saying to victim-survivors that we hear you and we support you.”
Treasurer Matt Kean said the important reforms are backed by $5.6 million in initial funding, which includes $0.7 million announced in the 2022-23 NSW Budget to support the NSW Government’s commitment to outlaw coercive control in intimate partner settings.
“We know that this law is only as strong as its implementation. That’s why today we are announcing a further $4.9 million to support coercive control training for police, funding for multiple awareness campaigns and educational resources,” Mr Kean said.
Minister for Women’s Safety and the Prevention of Domestic and Sexual Violence Natalie Ward, who chaired the Joint Select Committee on Coercive Control, said lives depend on this important legislative reform.
“Criminalising coercive control is crucial to ensuring that we recognise in law a pattern of behaviour that is identified as a red flag for domestic violence deaths,” Mrs Ward said.
“I am so grateful to the many witnesses who courageously provided evidence to the Joint Select Committee on Coercive Control. Their evidence has helped shape an incredibly important piece of legislation that will deter this form of violence.”
CEO, Women’s Community Shelters, Annabelle Daniel OAM, said “It’s important that we legislate now, operationalise after a period and review down the track”.
The Crimes Legislation Amendment (Coercive Control) Bill 2022 was second read in the Legislative Assembly today, Wednesday 12 October.
When passed, NSW will be the first Australian state or territory to have a dedicated offence for coercive control.
Once passed, there will be at least a further 14 months, and up to 19 months, before the laws commence, to allow plenty of time for training, resourcing, education and community awareness raising, guided by a multi-disciplinary taskforce.
The NSW Government committed an additional $69.6 million in this year’s Budget for services that support victim-survivors of domestic and family violence, and minimise the trauma experienced during legal proceedings.