Criminalising coercive control

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Consultation has concluded. Thanks for your contributions.

We want your help to criminalise coercive control in South Australia.

What's being decided?

We are working to make coercive control against the law in South Australia.

Coercive control is an insidious and often unrecognised form of domestic abuse that is difficult to fit within existing criminal offences.

After a period of in-depth engagement with stakeholders, the Government has drafted the Criminal Law Consolidation (Coercive Control) Amendment Bill 2023, which creates a new criminal offence of coercive control.

It defines when controlling behaviours against intimate partners will be punishable by the criminal justice system.


Background

Coercive control is when someone intentionally tries to control another person or make them behave in a certain way by doing or saying things that make them feel afraid, ashamed, anxious, unsure or upset.

This behaviour seriously impairs someone's freedom to make their own choices and act on their own preferences and best interests.

It is a pattern of behaviour that can involve many different forms of abuse. It isn't necessarily physically violent.

Although it can occur in different contexts, coercive control is often present in abusive intimate partner relationships. This could be between people who are married, in committed partnerships or people who are dating.

In South Australia, the law currently does not recognise many coercive behaviours as criminal - especially their repeated use within a relationship. This is particularly the case for non-physical types of violence or abuse.

The draft Bill aims to criminalise this type of behaviour.


Get involved

We are currently seeking feedback on the draft Bill and want to hear from the South Australian community.

Find out more by:

You can then have your say by:

  • taking our survey below and telling us what you think of the draft Bill
  • emailing a written submission to LLPSubmissions@sa.gov.au


What are the next steps?

Your feedback will help inform the final version of the Bill that will be introduced to Parliament.

We want your help to criminalise coercive control in South Australia.

What's being decided?

We are working to make coercive control against the law in South Australia.

Coercive control is an insidious and often unrecognised form of domestic abuse that is difficult to fit within existing criminal offences.

After a period of in-depth engagement with stakeholders, the Government has drafted the Criminal Law Consolidation (Coercive Control) Amendment Bill 2023, which creates a new criminal offence of coercive control.

It defines when controlling behaviours against intimate partners will be punishable by the criminal justice system.


Background

Coercive control is when someone intentionally tries to control another person or make them behave in a certain way by doing or saying things that make them feel afraid, ashamed, anxious, unsure or upset.

This behaviour seriously impairs someone's freedom to make their own choices and act on their own preferences and best interests.

It is a pattern of behaviour that can involve many different forms of abuse. It isn't necessarily physically violent.

Although it can occur in different contexts, coercive control is often present in abusive intimate partner relationships. This could be between people who are married, in committed partnerships or people who are dating.

In South Australia, the law currently does not recognise many coercive behaviours as criminal - especially their repeated use within a relationship. This is particularly the case for non-physical types of violence or abuse.

The draft Bill aims to criminalise this type of behaviour.


Get involved

We are currently seeking feedback on the draft Bill and want to hear from the South Australian community.

Find out more by:

You can then have your say by:

  • taking our survey below and telling us what you think of the draft Bill
  • emailing a written submission to LLPSubmissions@sa.gov.au


What are the next steps?

Your feedback will help inform the final version of the Bill that will be introduced to Parliament.

Consultation has concluded. Thanks for your contributions.

  • Support services

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    If you or someone you know is experiencing coercive control or domestic violence, there is confidential support available.

    South Australian Domestic Violence Crisis Line

    1800 800 098 (24 hours) | Women Safety Services website

    The Domestic Violence Crisis Line is a statewide service offering assistance to women experiencing domestic violence in South Australia by providing information, counselling and safe accommodation options.

    Men’s referral service (No To Violence)

    1300 766 491 | No To Violence website

    The Men’s Referral Service is a men’s family violence telephone counselling, information and referral service. It also provides support and referrals for women and men seeking information on behalf of their male partners, friends or family members, and workers in a range of agencies seeking assistance for their clients who are men.

    Yarrow Place Rape and Sexual Assault Service

    8226 8777 or 1800 817 421 | Yarrow Place website

    Yarrow Place Rape and Sexual Assault Service is an inclusive service, including medical and counselling services, for anyone in South Australia who has been sexually assaulted.

    1800 RESPECT

    1800 737 732 (24 hours) | 1800 respect website

    1800RESPECT is a national 24-hour online and telephone service offering counselling and support to anyone experiencing domestic and family violence and/or sexual assault and their family and friends.

    KWY Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Family Services

    08 8377 7822 | KWY Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Family Services website

    KWY provide services and support in domestic and family violence, child protection, youth work, kinship care, disability, mentoring, Aboriginal education outcomes and perpetrator intervention.

    Nunga Mi:Minar – Northern Regional Domestic Violence and Aboriginal Family Violence Service

    1800 003 038

    Nunga Mi:Minar provides support for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women and their children escaping family violence by providing an immediate safety response, accommodation and material assistance, advice, information and advocacy.

    Legal Services Commission

    1300 366 424 | Legal Services Commission website

    The Legal Services Commission provides free legal advice and support to all South Australians. They also operate the Women’s Domestic Violence Court Assistance Service (WDVCAS), which supports women to apply for, vary, or revoke an intervention order.