New laws to help stem Aussie crisis

Victim-survivors of domestic, family and sexual violence will now have stronger protections in New South Wale Photo by: NCA Newswire/ Gaye Gerard

Victim-survivors of domestic, family and sexual violence will now have stronger protections in New South Wales, with the criminalisation of coercive control and stronger bail laws coming into effect.

From Monday, coercive control will be considered a stand-alone dedicated offence in NSW.

Significant bail reforms will also come into effect from Monday, making it more difficult for those accused of serious domestic violence offences to get bail.

Under the new coercive control laws, if found guilty, perpetrators can face up to seven years in prison.

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NSW Attorney-General, Michael Daley says the new bail law reform will help protect those most vulnerable. Picture: NCA NewsWire / Nikki Short

Attorney-General Michael Daley said it was essential people felt safe in their relationships and these new laws will ensure they’re supported.

“From today, coercive control in current and former intimate partner relationships will be a crime punishable by up to seven years’ imprisonment,” Mr Daley said.

“Abuse against a current or former intimate partner is unacceptable and will not be tolerated.

“In terms of the bail laws, we believe in the presumption of innocence, but it is also important to recognise the right of victim survivors to be safe from harassment, intimidation or violence at the hands of a current or former intimate partner.

“The safety of victim-survivors must be a paramount consideration.”

Coercive control can manifest in different ways and is linked to a pattern of behaviour that may include financial and emotional abuse, violence and intimidation, threats against pets or loved ones, tracking someone’s movements, or isolating them from family and friends.

Police minister Yasmin Catley said NSW Police have undergone, and are continuing, training to recognise and respond to the complex and nuanced signs of coercive control.

NSW Police minister Yasmin Catley says police are undergoing training to understand the new laws. Picture: NewsWire / Nikki Short

“The criminalisation of coercive control in NSW is a significant day for victim/survivors,” Ms Catley said.

“Not only does it add further legal weight to their experiences but gives the NSW Police Force another mechanism to address domestic and violence.

“NSW is leading the country with these laws.

“Criminalising coercive control sends a strong message: this vile, criminal behaviour is not tolerated.

“The mandatory training is thorough, it shows how seriously the NSW Police Force are taking this, and it ensures all operational police can identify and take action against coercive control offences in NSW.

“The feedback I’m getting from the police on the ground is that the training is valuable, comprehensive and officers feel well supported.”

Home Invasion
NSW Police will be able to charge a person with coercive control from Monday. Picture: NCA NewsWire/ Gaye Gerard

Under the new laws, people charged with serious domestic violence offences that carry a maximum penalty of 14 or more years jail will also be required to show cause why they should not be detained until their case is determined.

Anyone charged with sexual assault, kidnapping, and choking to render someone unconscious with intent to commit another indictable offence will fall under this category.

Under these changes, before granting bail, bail decision makers must consider:

  • ‘Red flag’ behaviour that could constitute domestic abuse, such as behaviour that is physically abusive or violent; behaviour that is sexually abusive, coercive or violent; behaviour that is stalking; behaviour that causes death or injury to an animal; behaviour that is verbally abusive; or behaviour that is intimidation

  • The views of victims and their family members about safety concerns in domestic violence matters involving intimate partners

The show cause test will also apply to the coercive control offence.