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NSW to consider new DV laws

People who psychologically abuse their partners through controlling behaviour could soon spend 10 years behind bars, if legislation passes NSW Parliament.

user iconTony Zhang 02 October 2020 Politics
NSW to consider new DV laws
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Shellharbour Labor MP Anna Watson will present a bill to criminalise coercive control next week.

Ms Watson said she was forced into action after a series of brutal murders of women at the hands of their current or former partners.

This included the horrific case of Hannah Clarke, who was doused in petrol and burned alive by her estranged husband, and in March 2019 Preethi Reddy’s body was found stuffed into a suitcase in her car in Sydney. 

 
 

Tasmania is currently the only Australian jurisdiction that has laws criminalising coercive control, but Ms Watson says she wanted laws in NSW that were “stronger and tighter”.

Her drafted legislation, modelled off successful Scottish laws, would not only criminalise coercive control but introduce a mandatory sentence of five years for offenders.

It will create an offence for making another person subordinate, isolating them from sources of support, controlling their day-to-day activities, surveilling or stalking them, and more.

If the behaviour takes place in front of or within the hearing of a child, the mandatory sentence is increased to 10 years.

We know that when family and domestic violence issues are happening in the home around coercive controls, 80 per cent of those women end up losing their lives, Ms Watson stated.

If the bill is passed, police officers and frontline services would then receive thorough training on how to detect patterns of abuse.

But Women’s Legal Services NSW director Helen Campbell says any legislation would have to be pre-empted by police training.

“The advocates that we’ve been in touch with in Scotland have really emphasised to us that it was training and the community awareness aspects of it that were so important to making its introduction successful,” Ms Campbell said.

Ms Campbell stated the WLS NSW hasn’t decided its position on the criminalisation of coercive control, but says there is little point implementing new domestic violence laws when police so poorly implement the current ones.

“I don’t think that police should be enforcing domestic violence legislation unless they can demonstrate on a regular basis that they understand what their guidelines are,” she said.