Task force embeds NSW coercive control law

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A new group has been formed to bring police, judges, lawyers and frontline workers up to speed on NSW coercive control laws.

It comes after the state became the first Australian jurisdiction to make coercive control a standalone criminal offence.

Anyone convicted of coercive control will face a maximum seven-year jail sentence under new laws which passed the NSW parliament earlier this month.

Coercive control is a form of domestic abuse where a person is denied autonomy and independence. It includes controlling someone’s finances, communication and contact with family.

It is recognised as a precursor to domestic violence-related murders, and the reforms were crucial for identifying those patterns in law, NSW Attorney-General Mark Speakman said on Wednesday.

“That’s why the NSW government has acted immediately to set up this important group.”

The Coercive Control Implementation and Evaluation Taskforce will be responsible for educating relevant parties and the public about the new offence, ahead of its implementation in February, 2024.

“The taskforce is a key statutory safeguard to support public awareness raising, implementation, education and training for police, judges, lawyers and frontline services,” Mr Speakman said.

A successful prosecution will have to prove that a current or former partner engaged in repeated abusive behaviour with the intent of controlling or coercing.

The task force includes experts from the police and domestic and family violence sector, and will meet for the first time in December.

NSW Police Assistant Commissioner Stuart Smith and senior members of NSW Health, Aboriginal Affairs NSW, Multicultural NSW and Legal Aid NSW are among its members.

The task force will be chaired by Department of Communities and Justice secretary Michael Tidball.

Mr Speakman also appointed Domestic Violence NSW chair Annabelle Daniel, calling her a tremendous asset.

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