NEW South Wales has become the first state in the country to criminalise coercive control following historic and potentially life-saving law reforms passed in Parliament last week.
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.
The new law will make it an offence to carry out repeated abusive behaviours to a current or former intimate partner with the intent to coerce or control, and will carry a sentence of up to seven years in jail.
Ms Saffin welcomes the reforms as long overdue and says they will send a clear message to domestic violence offenders that coercive control is not acceptable under any circumstances.
“Do this crime and you will do the time,” Ms Saffin says.
“As a Parliamentarian, lawyer and a former manager of a women’s refuge, I’ve seen the devastating impacts of such behaviour on too many women and children, and their extended families.
“NSW Opposition Whip Anna Watson first brought this issue into the NSW Parliament and sat as a member of the Joint Select Committee on Coercive Control, who did a lot of work to get these reforms right.
“I also acknowledge the contributions of former NSW Shadow Minister for Women and the Prevention of Domestic and Family Violence Trish Doyle, who was Deputy Chair of that committee, and of NSW Shadow Minister for Women and Shadow Minister for Prevention of Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault Jodie Harrison.
“The Bill received bipartisan support and it will be reviewed to address some concerns that groups have raised with me and other MPs.”
The Crimes Legislation Amendment (Coercive Control) Bill 2022 creates a bespoke standalone criminal offence of coercive control with key safeguards. The offence consists of five elements to be proved beyond reasonable doubt:
- An adult engages in a course of conduct. This means engaging in behaviour repeatedly and continuously.
- The course of conduct is ‘abusive behaviour’ that involves violence, threats or intimidation; and/or coercion or control of the person against whom the behaviour is directed.
- The accused intends the course of conduct to coerce or control the other person.
- A reasonable person would consider the course of conduct would, in all the circumstances, be likely to cause: the other person to fear that violence will be used against them or another person; or a serious adverse impact on their capacity to engage in some or all of their ordinary day-to-day activities.
- The course of conduct is directed at a current or former intimate partner.
If you or someone you know needs help, 24/7 support is available:
- NSW Domestic Violence Line: 1800 656 463
- NSW Sexual Violence Helpline: 1800 424 017
- 1800Respect: 1800 737 732