Former Family Court Chief Justice Alistair Nicholson used the term “intimate terrorism.”
The NSW Domestic Violence Death Review Committee found that 77 of 78 perpetrators who killed their partners between 2017 and 2019 used coercive control beforehand.
How does the approach to coercive control differ across states and territories?
After the murder of Hannah Clarke and her children, Queensland and New South Wales moved to criminalize coercive control, but Victoria and Tasmania say their existing laws adequately cover the offences.
In July, the New South Wales government released a bill proposing prison sentences of up to seven years for those convicted of the free-standing offense of coercive control.
Attorney General Mark Speakman said there had been a clear “gap” in the state’s criminal law, which focused on individual acts rather than a course of action.
In May, the Queensland government pledged to implement all 89 recommendations of its Women’s Safety Task Force inquiry, including the criminalization of coercive control. The rollout is expected to take three years and include the introduction of prison terms of up to 14 years for coercive control.
The ACT government has given principled support for the creation of new offenses to tackle coercive control, according to a research paper from the Victorian parliament. Attorney General Shane Rattenbury said the discussion was ongoing and “we believe the ACT legislation does in fact cover issues of coercive control”.
The WA government announced a community consultation process regarding coercive control in March.
In the Northern Territory, members of the Inter-Agency Working Group on Domestic, Family and Sexual Violence agreed that legal changes to tackle coercive control should be considered. The group said this could be done through criminalization, as well as changing the definition of domestic violence to better deal with coercive control.
The South Australian government announced last year that it would criminalize coercive control. His bill is at second reading.
In Victoria, where billions of dollars have been spent, including on a royal commission, to tackle domestic violence, legal definitions of domestic violence offenses are seen by many advocates as spanning the spectrum of coercive control crimes. .
Why do some women’s safety leaders say the new laws are risky?
Many speakers questioned whether criminalizing coercive control would produce the best results for women’s safety.
Safe and Equal, formerly Domestic Violence Victoria, did not advocate for more or stricter laws in Victoria because the state has detailed and broad definitions of necessary crimes already covered in its criminal codes. He is among those who fear that sweeping new laws will result in vulnerable women being wrongly identified as perpetrators rather than victims.
Some advocates say there is a lack of compelling international evidence that the criminalization of coercive control has protected victims.
The Victorian Aboriginal Legal Service recognizes the harms of coercive control, but argues that a new offense is unlikely to protect women at risk of violence and could even become a source of harm to the Aboriginal community. It recommends better education and training to ensure the protection of victims/survivors.
Safe and Equal believes that Victorian law is adequate to cover coercive control, as long as these laws are implemented effectively, including training police to recognize the impact of patterns of behaviour.
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