New South Wales Department of Communities and Justice: Response to the Crimes Legislation Amendment (Coercive Control) Bill 2022
This submission applies both ANROWS and external research in response to the draft Crimes Legislation Amendment (Coercive Control) Bill 2022 (NSW).
This submission draws on Defining and responding to coercive control: Policy brief (ANROWS, 2021) and Accurately identifying the “person most in need of protection” in domestic and family violence law (Nancarrow et al., 2020) to highlight the necessary caution and precautions that will accompany the introduction of a standalone offence criminalising domestic abuse. It makes two overarching recommendations. Firstly, it recommends a long lead-in time for the introduction of the legislation. Secondly, it calls for the establishment of an independent implementation taskforce (supporting the call from the NSW Women’s Alliance) to provide oversight of drafting, consultation, the implementation process, as well as monitoring and evaluation of the legislation.
Falling out of the overarching recommendations, the submission made further recommendations in relation to:
The long lead-in time:
- Provide education, guidance, support and resourcing to police and judicial officers to assist with the application of a nuanced understanding of domestic and family violence in their practice.
- Defer implementation of the new offence to ensure that the legislation works in harmony with the National Coercive Control Principles.
Independent implementation taskforce (drafting):
- Use emerging learnings from other jurisdictions, supplemented with existing evidence on experiences of the legal system, to forecast and mitigate potential negative consequences of the introduction of the offence.
- Expand the offence to cover all domestic relationships in recognition of coercive control that is perpetrated outside of intimate partner relationships, while ensuring that appropriate safeguards are in place to prevent young people who use violence becoming subject to the new offence.
Independent implementation taskforce (consultation):
- Undertake extensive cross-sector consultation with diverse groups of women and the service providers they engage with.
Independent implementation taskforce (implementation):
- Facilitate strong cross-sector collaboration by enabling the development of infrastructure which supports integration, and training that builds skills in collaborative work, by implementing the recommendations set out in Working across sectors to meet the needs of clients experiencing domestic and family violence (ANROWS, 2020b).
- Implement broader systemic reform, including
- increasing early intervention and support to ensure that women are not inappropriately subjected to the new offence
- resourcing interventions for perpetrators
- considering alternatives to the criminal legal system, especially community-led alternatives for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.
Independent implementation taskforce (evaluation):
- Fund research to monitor the progress and implementation of coercive control and domestic abuse offences in NSW as well as other jurisdictions, including unintended consequences.
Australia’s National Research Organisation for Women’s Safety. (2022). NSW Department of Communities and Justice: Response to the Crimes Legislation Amendment (Coercive Control Bill) [Submission]. ANROWS.