by Anna Watson

Member for Shellharbour, Anna Watson MP, has welcomed an announcement by the NSW Government over the weekend that will see coercive control in intimate relationships criminalised in NSW.

On Saturday, NSW Attorney General and Minister for Prevention of Domestic and Family Violence, Mark Speakman, announced that the NSW Government will make coercive control, which is the abusive behaviour that is the precursor to almost every domestic homicide, a stand-alone criminal offence.

It is among 17 recommendations that the Government will support from the ‘Report on Coercive Control in Domestic Relationships’ that was tabled by the Joint Select Committee on Coercive Control in June this year.

At the time, the Joint Select Committee concluded: ‘Our strongly held unanimous Committee view is that implementation of a change to the lens through which we view domestic abuse, by legislating to criminally recognise coercive control as other jurisdictions do, is needed in this term of Parliament, but could only be undertaken with an extensive implementation process, which includes consultation, education, resources and lead-time, if it is to succeed.”

“I’ve been hoping and praying for this day to come. It’s been over two long years since I started my uphill battle to see the criminalisation of coercive control in our state alongside Sally Stevenson from the Illawarra Women’s Health Centre and Dr Karen Williams” said Ms Watson.

“The fact is that the Attorney General has had to be dragged kicking and screaming to this result. I’m proud of the fact that it was my Private Members Bill that triggered the Government into action on this matter.”

“In his words to me, the Attorney General and Minister for the Prevention of Domestic and Family Violence, said he had no appetite for criminalising coercive control. Well, he’s certainly changed his tune now.”

In March 2020, Ms Watson introduced the Crimes (Domestic and Personal Violence) Amendment (Coercive Control - Preethi’s Law) Bill 2020 in Parliament. It was subsequently voted down in a vote of 46 to 38 on 18 March 2021.

“I spent over two years researching coercive control and its impacts in our society, before taking my bill to the Parliament, only to have the Government vote it down. I gave the Attorney General many opportunities to collaborate with me on this bill, to discuss any amendments to get it over the line, but he refused.”

“I’m so relieved that this former silent pandemic of intimate terrorism is finally being acknowledged and real change is about to take place here in NSW. It’s about time!”

“Finally lives will be saved and never ending despair will give rise to real hope.” said Ms Watson.