Community to be consulted about tackling coercive control

It is a distressing reality that women in this State, and across the country, are being abused in this way by someone who is supposed to love and care for them.

Coercive control is a pattern of persistent abusive behaviour that aims to manipulate, intimidate and isolate victims mentally, emotionally, socially and financially.

As a Government, we want to make sure any measures that are put in place achieve the best outcomes for victim-survivors, and that is why consultation is so important.

The issue of coercive control requires more than a legislative response – we all need to consider how we can change the underlying attitudes that allow violence against women.

The Western Australian Government is seeking views about whether to introduce specific laws against an insidious form of family violence behaviour known as coercive control.

Victim-survivors, legal and family violence specialists, and members of the community will be consulted about coercive control.

Abuse can take many forms and coercive control is recognised as a red flag that can lead to further violence, and in some cases, intimate partner homicide.

Perpetrators use coercive control to undermine a victim-survivor’s autonomy and capacity to resist or escape abuse. They use behaviours such as intimidation, isolation and manipulation to maintain control, sometimes for years.

WA already recognises and responds to coercive control in a variety of ways through the criminal justice system.

Considering new laws against coercive control raises complex legal, policy and social change issues. Legislative changes or other responses must benefit victim-survivors and not lead to adverse impacts, particularly for vulnerable members of the community.

An important part of the consultation will consider what the current awareness of coercive control is in the community and how frontline responders can recognise these patterns of abuse.

The consultation process will complement the whole-of-government and community plans for reducing and addressing family violence, set out in Path to Safety: Western Australia’s Strategy to Reduce Family and Domestic Violence 2020-2030.

A Discussion Paper and further information about the process is available at https://www.wa.gov.au/organisation/department-of-justice/commissioner-victims-of-crime/coercive-control-we-want-your-views.

The consultation will be open until July 30, 2022.