by Anna Watson

Member for Shellharbour, Anna Watson MP, is urging the NSW Government to uphold its commitment to make coercive control a stand-alone criminal offence in New South Wales.

On 18 December 2021, NSW Attorney General Mark Speakman MP, who at the time was also the Minister for Prevention of Domestic and Sexual Violence, announced that the NSW Government was committed to supporting 17 recommendations from the ‘Report on Coercive Control in Domestic Relationships’ which was tabled to the Joint Select Committee on Coercive Control in June of last year.

“One of these recommendations was to criminalise coercive control in New South Wales, during this term of Parliament, a view which the Committee, that I was a part of, held unanimously and strongly” said Ms Watson.

On Friday, Ms Watson wrote to the Attorney General and to the Minister for Women’s Safety, Minister for the Prevention of Domestic and Sexual Violence, Natalie Ward MLC, who was also the Chair of the Joint Select Committee on Coercive Control, asking for an explanation as to why the NSW Government has so far failed to bring forward a bill seeking to outlaw coercive control in current and former intimate partner relationships.

Ms Watson said “So I ask this - when can we expect to see a bill regarding the criminalisation of coercive control brought to the Parliament, and what progress has been made towards legislating coercive control in NSW?”

“Just last weekend, Australia lost its 14 woman to domestic violence, after 21 year old mother, Mackenzie Anderson, was stabbed to death at her home in Mayfield, Newcastle. Her 22 year old former partner, has since been charged with her murder.”

“How many more lives must be lost, before this Government takes this issue seriously?” said Ms Watson.

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

Ms Watson’s calls come on the back of the recent announcement that the Illawarra Women's Health Centre had secured a significant funding boost to establish a world first women's trauma recovery centre in the Illawarra.

On Tuesday evening, as part of the 2022 Budget, the Federal Government announced that it had committed $25 million in funding to establish a Women’s Trauma Recovery Centre in the Illawarra, which will directly help to address generational trauma and recurring patterns of domestic violence.

This funding has been allocated as part of a 6 year, $1.3 billion commitment by the Federal Government to combat domestic violence, under what is called its National Plan to End Violence Against Women and Children 2022-2032.

“I urge the NSW Government to continue to address the issue of domestic and sexual violence by ensuring a robust bill to criminalise coercive control is brought before Parliament, to recognise this behaviour as an offence, as other jurisdictions do” said Ms Watson.