By -

The NSW Government will establish a parliamentary inquiry into coercive control as it considers whether to criminalise behaviour that is frequently a precursor to domestic violence murders. 

NSW Attorney-General Mark Speakman also issued a Discussion Paper on 13 October that considers what coercive control is, how such behaviour is currently addressed in NSW, and the potential benefits and challenges of criminalisation. 

“Creating a coercive control offence would be a complex though potentially very worthwhile reform that could help prevent these homicides,” Speakman said. 

“Thorough research, consultation and careful consideration is crucial to avoid risks such as misidentifying victims as offenders or capturing behaviour that ought not to be criminalised.

“Adapting from an incident-based model of investigation and prosecution to that of a course of conduct would be a significant change to the way our justice system broadly operates.

“A new offence may not be the best, or only, way to improve our response to non-physical forms of domestic abuse.”

President of the Law Society of NSW Richard Harvey commended the Attorney-General for committing to a detailed look at coercive control and issuing the paper that will encourage input from the profession, key stakeholders and the public. 

“The Law Society is looking forward to drawing on the expertise of the profession and providing a detailed submission on this important, but complex, issue,” Harvey said.

“Formalising the process with an Inquiry by a Joint Parliamentary Committee is an appropriate way to give this issue the deep analysis it deserves.

“The release of a Discussion Paper will assist with the comprehensive consultation that is required to consider law reforms relating to coercive control.”  

Read the full Discussion Paper.