Coercive control is a defining feature of domestic and family violence and is a known predictor of escalating violence, including intimate partner homicide. Limitations in current responses to coercive control has understandably led to increased public conversation and debate as to whether Western Australia should follow the lead of countries such as England, Wales, and Scotland by criminalising coercive control.
Alison Evans, Director of Domestic, Family and Sexual Violence at the Centre for Women’s Safety and Wellbeing, stated: “While criminal law is part of the domestic and family violence legislative environment, it is not in-and-of-itself necessarily the most effective way of ensuring victim-survivor safety and holding perpetrators accountable. To be effective, each part of the domestic and family violence response system must be fully integrated, mutually reinforcing, and facilitating reciprocal accountability. This will allow the whole system to effectively manage the risk and harm associated with coercive control and ensure safe outcomes for all victim-survivors regardless of where they enter the system. It is our view that there are actions that should be taken now to improve system-wide responses to coercive control, that are not contingent on the introduction of a new offence.”
Earlier this year the Attorney General John Quigley and the Minister for Women’s Interests, Hon. Simone McGurk, announced a community consultation process relating to coercive control. The community was asked to consider whether coercive control should become a criminal offence, or whether it can be better dealt with by other means.
Read the CWSW submission considering legislative responses to coercive control in Western Australia below.