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Lawyers welcome inquiry into coercive control

The peak body for NSW lawyers has welcomed a decision by the state government to establish a parliamentary joint committee to hold a public inquiry into coercive controls.

user iconNaomi Neilson 14 October 2020 Big Law
Lawyers welcome inquiry into coercive control
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The NSW government has prepared to launch a parliamentary joint committee to hold, examine and provide recommendations from a public inquiry into coercive control. The move comes after heavy criticism of NSW laws following the murder of Hannah Clarke

Attorney-General Mark Speakman also announced that the government will be issuing a comprehensive discussion paper detailing the key issues around coercive control, a move welcomed by Law Society of NSW president Richard Harvey. 

“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,” said Mr Harvey. “The release of a discussion paper will assist with the comprehensive consultation that is required to consider law reforms relating to coercive control.”


Mr Speakman said creating a coercive control offence may be complex but potentially worthwhile as a reform that could prevent future homicides. Thorough research, close consideration and consultation are needed to avoid the risks of misidentifying victims or capturing behaviour that should be criminalised, Mr Speakman added. 

“The horrific rate of domestic violence murders in Australia is stubbornly consistent as coercive controlling behaviour remains a common precursor to partner violence,” said Mr Speakman. “The impact of this abuse is abhorrent but the appropriate response to this behaviour remains an ongoing challenge for law enforcement and legal minds.” 

The Attorney-General added that adapting from an incident-based model of investigation and prosecution to a course of conduct would be a significant change to how the justice system operates broadly. 

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

An independent review has been established to address how our Victorian courts can better support people who experience sexual harassment. If you have experienced or witnessed sexual harassment, the review is keen to hear from you. 

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