By -

Taking a step closer to criminalising coercive control, the NSW Government is releasing a draft Bill for public consultation ahead of its introduction to Parliament, NSW Attorney General Mark Speakman announced.

Following recommendations from the Joint Select Committee on Coercive Control, the draft Crimes Legislation Amendment (Coercive Control) Bill 2022 adds further protections for victim-survivors of domestic and family violence (DFV) and creates an offence to carry out repeated abusive behaviours towards a current or former intimate partner, with a sentence of up to seven years in jail.

“Coercive control is complex, is insidious and causes untold harm for its victims,” Speakman said.

“Creating a stand-alone offence will strengthen our criminal justice system’s responses to abuse”.

Minister for Women’s Safety and the Prevention of Domestic and Sexual Violence Natalie Ward added that the Bill also introduces a definition of ‘domestic abuse’ to the Crimes (Domestic and Personal Violence) Act 2007 (NSW).

“These reforms are crucial to ensuring that we recognise in law a pattern of behaviour which is identified as a precursor to domestic violence deaths,” Ward said

The Domestic Violence Death Review Team noted that 111 of the 112 cases of domestic violence homicides in NSW between 2008 and 2016 had an element of coercive and controlling behaviours towards the victim.

The draft Bill’s release follows the announced allocation of $69.6 million in the NSW Government Budget to support women and children who are DFV victims, including an initial down-payment of $0.7 million over two years to support the State Government’s commitment to outlawing coercive control.

But public consultation is critical to avoid overreach and ensure these reforms do not unintentionally endanger those in the community the Bill seeks to help, Speakman reiterated.

The NSW Government plans to introduce the Bill to Parliament in Spring 2022.

Submissions to the Crimes Legislation Amendment (Coercive Control) Bill 2022 can be made via the NSW Government’s Have Your Say website.

Consultation closes 31 August 2022.