The NSW parliament will hold a public inquiry into the criminalisation of coercive control, but some advocates are concerned a rush to legislate could mean victims are worse off.
Attorney-General Mark Speakman announced on Tuesday the government would establish a parliamentary committee that will hold a public inquiry, allowing stakeholders to have their say.
"The horrific rate of domestic violence murders in Australia remains stubbornly consistent and coercive and controlling behaviour is a common precursor to intimate partner homicide," Mr Speakman, also the Minister for the Prevention of Domestic Violence, said in a statement.
"Creating a coercive control offence would be a complex though potentially very worthwhile reform that could help prevent these homicides."
The announcement comes a day after a coalition of DV advocates, which include the sister of murdered dentist Preethi Reddy and the family of slain mother Hannah Clarke, launched a campaign pushing for Australia to criminalise the behaviour.
Both women were killed by their former partners after they were subjected to controlling and manipulative behaviour.
Criminalising coercive control - which is broadly defined as a pattern of behaviours used to intimidate, humiliate, surveil, and control another person - is an issue that has vexed legislators, police and advocates for years.
It is for that reason chief executive of men's intervention organisation No To Violence Jacqui Watt isn't celebrating yet.
She is concerned legislation - especially if it is hastily-drafted - could wrongly identify victims as perpetrators, and have unintended effects that do victims more harm than good.
"Criminalisation of coercive control will not stop it from happening," Ms Watt says.
"It is one tool amongst many in responding and keeping victim survivors safe, acknowledging the injustice and legitimising a victim survivors experience."
No To Violence has been consulting the community on the issue and while not against the reform, it fears it could reinforce the silence of migrant workers reliant on their partners for visas and land more First Nations women in jail.
Ms Watt says the public inquiry is a good first step, but legislators must ensure any new laws will act as they are intended.
The attorney-general also announced the inquiry would be guided by a discussion paper, detailing key issues like the definition of the offence, how coercive control is currently dealt with in NSW, how other jurisdictions have legislated on it and non-legislative action that can be taken.
He too flagged the need for thorough research, consultation and careful consideration.
"A new offence may not be the best, or only, way to improve our response to non-physical forms of domestic abuse."
A bill drafted by Labor MP Anna Watson proposing mandatory jail time of five to 10 years is already before the parliament.
"It is good to finally see the Minister taking action in joining this conversation about coercive control," Labor's domestic and family violence spokeswoman Trish Doyle said in a statement.
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