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The proposed coercive control
domestic violence laws prescribe up to seven years
The coercive control laws are focused at addressing offenders in
domestic relationships who mentally/psychologically abuse their
The proposed Bill is called the Crimes (Domestic and Personal
Violence) Amendment (Coercive Control-Preethi’s Law) Bill 2020
Effectively, when passed, the Bill will attract up to 7 years
imprisonment to anyone who engages in coercive control in a
Coercive control includes non-violent types of
psychological harm and further includes behaviour that is a pattern
of conduct involving threats, intimidation and humiliation or
Isolating your partner from friends and/or family members can
also constitute a form of coercive control.
Restricting your partner’s access to money (
financial control) or engaging in degrading behaviour can
equally amount to coercive control warranting criminal prosecution
Other types of coercive control may include sexual abuse and
verbal abuse depriving the victim of independence.
The Bill was been proposed in honour of victim Preethi Reddy who
was killed by an ex-partner (hence
The Bill recognises that abusive behaviour such as this is a
significant warning sign for intimate partner homicides in
The Attorney-General Mark Speakman said, that “Coercive
control is complex, is insidious and causes untold harm for its
victims”. The absence of this law has been a missing piece
towards protecting the community in domestic relationships.
Speakman also said, “At the moment, criminal law focuses on
individual episodes of violence rather than a course of
Misusing power in a relationship to this extent that it forms
into coercive control warranting criminal punishment and protection
is currently not considered a crime in Australia except to a
limited extent in Tasmania through their emotional abuse criminal
reforms. Queensland and South Australia have also introduced
similar Bills to address the same concerns.
The proposed laws can capture conduct that controls what someone
wears or who they visit or talk to, including tracking
Others have questioned the new laws raising legitimate concerns
that it can prove difficult in proving a pattern of conduct or that
it can result in baseless claims.
The existing Bill defines “coercive control” as
conduct that has, or is reasonably likely to have, one or more of
the following effects:
- Frightening, humiliating, degrading, or punishing a
- Depriving a person, or restricting a person’s access to
support services. This includes doctors or lawyers,
- Depriving a person of, or restricting a person’s freedom of
- Controlling, regulating, or monitoring a person’s
- Isolating a person from friends, relatives, or other support
- Making a person dependent on, or subordinate to, a person.
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