Government canvasses views on coercive control laws

Media release
The WA Government is seeking community views about whether to introduce laws specifically targeting the family violence behaviour known as coercive control.
A person with a mobile phone indoors

Victim-survivors, specialists in legal and family violence, and members of the community are being asked for feedback on how best to respond to this behaviour.

Coercive control can include threats, humiliation, manipulation and isolation, which can undermine a victim-survivor's autonomy and capacity to resist or escape abuse.

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

As well as considering if new laws are needed, the consultation will gauge community awareness of coercive control and how frontline responders can recognise these patterns of abuse.

Legislative changes or other responses must benefit victim-survivors and not lead to adverse impacts, particularly for vulnerable members of the community.

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. 

“The aim of this consultation is to improve the safety of victim-survivors as well as ensure accountability for perpetrators,” Department of Justice Director General Dr Adam Tomison said.

“It is very important to consider how vulnerable groups such as Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, people with disabilities, children and the elderly could be impacted by a new criminal offence covering coercive control,” Dr Tomison said.

Commissioner for Victims of Crime Kati Kraszlan said family violence went beyond one-off instances of physical violence, and any act of violence is too many. 

“The question now is whether offences should be constructed to deal with a pattern of behaviour, rather than an isolated incident,” Ms Kraszlan said.

“To get the right response to coercive control, we need to know what the community wants,” she said.

The Discussion Paper and further information about making a submission is available on the Coercive control web page.

Responses can be made until 30 July 2022. Submissions can be made anonymously and in confidence.

Page reviewed 30 March 2022