The McGowan Government has recently announced two important public consultations – Legislative Responses to Coercive Control in WA and Review of the Western Australian Firearms Act. These public consultations provide an opportunity for the Western Australian community to have their say on important issues and contribute to law and system reform processes. The Centre for Women’s Safety and Wellbeing will actively engage in these consultations as part of our work to prevent violence, promote health and advance gender equality.
Legislative Responses to Coercive Control in WA
Coercive control in the context of domestic and family violence is a complex matter that can be difficult to describe and define. Although the tactics and pattern of behaviours used by each perpetrator and the experience and context for each victim-survivor is unique, coercive control is common to all experiences of domestic and family violence and significantly impacts on the safety, autonomy, health and wellbeing of all victim-survivors.
It is important to develop consistent and victim-survivor centred responses to coercive control that intervene in and prevent family and domestic violence. This will require a significant shift in how coercive control and associated risk is understood and managed across the entire family and domestic violence response system and the wider community. It is critical that we develop best-practice responses to coercive control to ensure Western Australia’s systemic response to family and domestic violence meets the needs of all victim-survivors, regardless of whether they engage with the justice system.
CWSW welcomes the WA Government’s plan for consultations with victim-survivors, legal and family violence specialists and members of the community.
An important part of the consultation will be considering what the current awareness of coercive control is in the community and how frontline responders can recognise these patterns of abuse.
The consultation will be open until July 30, 2022.
Review of the Western Australian Firearms Act
CWSW welcomes the recent WA Government announcement to re-write the Western Australian Firearms Act to enhance community safety. The current legislation has been in place since 1973 with no structural reform until now.
It is expected to take a year for the new legislation to be drafted and a public consultation period will be included.
Proposed reforms include strengthened training requirements, enhanced requirements for security and storage of legitimately owned firearm and provisions to allow police to revoke gun licences from those convicted of serious family violence offences.
It is now well-established that domestic and family violence is both widespread and a serious threat to women and children’s safety and well-being. An abusive partner’s access to a firearm is a serious threat to a victim survivor of domestic and family violence, making it five times more likely that a woman will be killed. Effective firearm legislation is necessary to save lives and prevent firearms from being used as tools of intimidation, coercion, and abuse.
In 2016 the Law Reform Commission of Western Australia tabled their Review of the Firearms Act 1973 (WA) Final Report. The report recommended that the state’s firearms legislation should be redrafted “from the ground up” with the primary principle to ensure public safety, making firearm possession a privilege. We look forward to seeing new legislation that ensures that the possession and use of firearms is a privilege not afforded to perpetrators of domestic and family violence.
The public consultation will be open until April 30, 2022.