Consultation Opens on NSW Draft Crimes Legislation Amendment (Coercive Control) Bill 2022

Monday 25 July 2022 @ 9.29 a.m. | Crime | Legal Research

On 20 July 2022, the New South Wales Government opened a public consultation on the Draft Crimes Legislation Amendment (Coercive Control) Bill 2022 (NSW) (“the Draft Bill”).

The Draft Bill was prepared in response to the 2021 findings of the Parliamentary Joint Select Committee on Coercive Control (“the Joint Committee”), which considered the effectiveness of the current domestic violence state laws.

Most notably, the Draft Bill proposes to establish a new offence for coercive control and to introduce a legislative definition of ‘domestic abuse’.

A New Offence for Coercive Control

The Draft Bill proposes a new offence under the Crimes Act 1900 (NSW) (“the Act”) against perpetrators who engage in repeated or continuous abusive behaviour against a current or former intimate partner. The offence would cover behaviour that intentionally or recklessly causes physical or mental harm. The maximum penalty proposed for the new offence is 7 years imprisonment.

The Draft Bill proposes to define ‘abusive behaviour’ as:

  • violence or threats against a person; or
  • intimidation of a person; or
  • coercion or control of the person against whom the behaviour is directed.

The Draft Bill also provides examples of what may constitute abusive behaviour, including:

  • behaviour directed at or making use of a child threaten the parent of the child;
  • making unreasonable demands regarding a person's financial, personal, sexual, or social autonomy;
  • withholding necessary medication, medical equipment, or essential support services from a person; and
  • preventing a person from making or keeping connections with the person’s family, friends or culture.

A New Definition of ‘Domestic Abuse’

The Draft Bill also seeks to amend the Crimes (Domestic and Personal Violence) Act 2007 (NSW) by inserting a definition of ‘domestic abuse’. According to the Joint Committee, NSW is the only Australian state or territory that does not currently have a legislated definition of domestic violence.

The definition proposed in the Draft Bill found in Schedule 2, clause [2] as:

"…behaviour, directed by one person (the first person) against another person (the second person) with whom the first person has a domestic relationship, that -

(a)    is physically abusive or violent, or

(b)    is sexually abusive, coercive or violent, or

(c)     is economically abusive, or

(d)    is verbally or emotionally abusive, or

(e)    is intimidation or stalking, or

(f)      is intended to cause the second person to fear for the person’s safety or wellbeing, or the safety or wellbeing of others, or

(g)    coerces or controls the second person.”

Public consultation on the Draft Bill is open, please refer to the government website for more details. Following the consultation period, the NSW Government anticipates the introduction of the Draft Bill into Parliament in late 2022.

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[Draft] Crimes Legislation Amendment (Coercive Control) Bill 2022 (NSW) and additional explanatory material available from TimeBase’s LawOne Service

Coercive Control Exposure Draft Bill (NSW Government, 20 July 2022)

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