Recently, a new bill has passed in the state of New South Wales becoming the first state in Australia to create an offence of coercive and control. This new law involves certain patterns of behaviour to a current or former intimate partner with the intent to coerce and control which includes denying the victim their autonomy and independence.
The amendments will be made to include section 54D of the Crimes Act of abusive behaviour towards current or former intimate partners which will be enforceable in 2024. The maximum penalty for this type of offending is 7 years.
How is the offence proven?
The onus of proof is relied upon by the prosecution to prove beyond reasonable doubt that the offender had the intention that their behaviour was controlling and coercive. Evidence is also required that the offender repeated this behaviour towards the victim restricting them of their freedom.
How does this effect Family Law matters?
Coercive control behaviour is recognised through dangerous domestic relationships where anyone within that relationship is a victim of sexual, psychological, or financial abuse. The most common signs of coercive controlling behaviour within a domestic relationship are:
Everyone has a right to be in a loving and free relationship however this type of behaviour is a form of domestic abuse and can have a detrimental impact on the victim’s independence and autonomy.
The key force behind this new bill came after Hannah Clarke and her three children were murdered by ex-partner. Hannah Clarkes Mother, Sue said that Hannah’s husband was never physically violent but what she didn’t realise that the coercive controlling behaviour was just a prevalent and detrimental to her and her family.
Abuse, of any kind, shouldn’t be tolerated. If you or someone you love is being exposed to such violence, we recommend you can the Domestic Violence Liaison Officer (‘DVLO’) at your local police station.
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