The NSW Government’s Now Committed To Criminalising Coercive Control, So Here’s What That Means

national plan violence again women and children

The NSW Government has finally committed to criminalising coercive control, a form of intimate abuse which has been historically overlooked.

Back in 2020, the Government established the Joint Select Committee on Coercive Control which has now published a list of 23 recommendations.

The NSW Government has supported 17 of those and said the other six will be “noted as further consideration continues”.

Mark Speakman, Attorney General and the Minister for Domestic and Sexual Violence Prevention said: “no person deserves to live in fear, and it is among our responsibilities in government to uphold the safety and human dignity of all of our citizens”.

“Coercive control is also a red flag for intimate partner homicide. The Domestic Violence Death Review Team led by the Coroner found that intimate partner homicide in NSW is typically preceded by coercive control often without any recorded physical violence.”

The NSW Government will now amend some existing laws and introduce a new, stand-alone offence for coercive control.

NSW’s Minister for Mental Health and Women Bronnie Taylor explained coercive control, which is where abusers use patterns of control to undermine their partner. That includes things like tracking their communication, isolating them from family and friends, and controlling their finances.

“[Coercive control] involves patterns of abuse that have the cumulative effect of denying victim-survivors their autonomy and independence. This can include physical, sexual, psychological, or financial abuse,” said Taylor.

At the moment Tasmania has laws addressing coercive control and earlier this year Queensland committed to making coercive control a crime.

As well as legislative reform, the NSW government has also announced a number of other initiatives to help address the problem of coercive control, including a review of the Department of Education’s school programs about respectful relationships.

The plan is to ensure these programs include content about coercive, controlling behaviour.

The government will also organise a public awareness campaign, which it says will be delivered in consultation with First Nations and culturally and linguistically diverse communities.

Domestic Violence NSW’s CEO Delia Donovan supported the government’s response and highlighted the importance of consultation going forward.

“The creation of this stand-alone offence presents a significant opportunity to improve the safety and wellbeing of victim-survivors across NSW.

“Thorough consultation with the domestic and family violence sector, including with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander and culturally and linguistically diverse services will be particularly important, alongside appropriate training and awareness raising efforts.”

Help is available.

If you require immediate assistance, please call 000.

If you’d like to speak to someone about domestic violence, please call the 1800 

Respect hotline on 1800 737 732 or chat online. 

Under 25? You can reach Kids Helpline at 1800 55 1800 or chat online.