New laws passed in the State Parliament this week which make coercive control a criminal offence. ‘Coercive Control’ is the name given to behaviour that is abusive, but not physically violent, and considered to be ‘controlling in nature, or aimed at limiting a person’s independence.’
It includes, but is not limited to, behaviour which makes another person dependent on a partner, isolates a person from friends, relatives or other sources of support, controls or monitors a person’s day-to-day activities, manipulates, intimidates, humiliates or degrades another person.
What is coercive control?
Coercive control can be difficult to identify, however it has long been considered by domestic and family violence experts as a precursor to domestic violence, prevalent in the months prior to 99 percent of intimate partner homicides recorded between 2008 and 2016.
While coercive control has been a particularly complex area to legislate, there has been a great deal of consultation prior to these new laws being passed and the NSW Attorney General, Mark Speakman has said the legislation might not be “perfect” it is aimed at saving lives.
The Government has promised to review the laws as time goes on to ensure they work effectively.
New South Wales coercive control laws
The legislation will come into effect in 2024 to allow time to educate and train first-responders, such as police and paramedics, and emergency department workers, along with members of the judiciary and the wider community in what may be considered coercive control.Under the new laws, anyone found guilty of coercive control can be punished with a maximum penalty of seven years imprisonment.
The legislation consists of five elements to be proved beyond reasonable doubt:
- An adult engages in a course of conduct 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 be likely to cause: the other person fear that violence will be used against them: or a serious adverse impact on their capacity to engage in some or all of the other person’s ordinary day to day activities.
- The course of conduct is directed at a current or former intimate partner.
New South Wales is the first state to legislate coercive control as a standalone criminal offence. Queensland is most likely to be next. Legislation is currently before parliament.
This post is informative only. It is not legal advice. If you have a specific legal matter you’d like to discuss, please contact us.
You can also follow us on facebook