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  • Writer's pictureGeoff Harrison

Coercive Control

Updated: Nov 3, 2023


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Published by Geoff Harrison | 1 November 2023


The offence relating to Coercive Control is scheduled to commence by 1 July 2024 under the Crimes Legislation Amendment (Coercive Control) Bill 2022. The proposed offence of abusive behaviour towards a current or former intimate partner under s54D Crimes Act 1900 is set out below. The offence relates to an adult engaging in a course of conduct towards an intimate partner that consists of abusive behaviour, and the adult intends the course of conduct to coerce or control the other person. There is an objective element to the offence, in that a reasonable person would consider the course of conduct would be likely, in all the circumstances, to cause any or all of the following, whether or not the fear or impact is, in fact, caused—

(i) fear that violence will be used against the other person or another person, or

(ii) a serious adverse impact on the capacity of the other person to engage in some or all of the person’s ordinary day-to-day activities.


The maximum penalty for this offence is 7 years imprisonment.


Other Sources:

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Extracted Legislation:


CRIMES ACT 1900 - SECT 54I

Coercive Control Implementation and Evaluation Taskforce

(1) The Minister must establish a Coercive Control Implementation and Evaluation Taskforce.


(2) The taskforce is to include the following members appointed by the Minister--

(a) the Secretary of the department in which this Act is administered, who is to be the chairperson of the taskforce,

(b) a representative of the NSW Police Force,

(c) the chair of the Domestic and Family Violence and Sexual Assault Council,

(d) a member from the domestic and family violence sector with substantial expertise and experience in domestic and family violence service delivery.


(3) The main purposes of the taskforce are as follows--

(a) to consult with stakeholders, including reference groups established under this section, about the offence under section 54D (the

"coercive control offence" ) and related matters,

(b) to provide advice about, and monitor, training, education and resourcing in relation to the coercive control offence,

(c) to provide advice about the commencement dates of, and interaction between, the definition of

"domestic abuse" in the Crimes (Domestic and Personal Violence) Act 2007, section 6A and the coercive control offence,

(d) to evaluate implementation of the coercive control offence and resourcing in relation to the coercive control offence,

(e) to monitor the operation of this Division, including--

(i) the practical application of defences to the coercive control offence, and

(ii) resourcing in relation to the operation of the Division,

(f) to provide advice to the Minister about other matters related to a matter in paragraph (a)-(e) or the coercive control offence.


(4) The chairperson of the taskforce must convene the first meeting of the taskforce within 1 month after the commencement of this section.


(5) The taskforce must establish reference groups to consider, and provide advice and recommendations to the taskforce about any of the following matters--

(a) the impact of this Division on specific communities,

Examples--: Aboriginal persons, the LGBTIQA+ community

(b) particular elements of the Division.


(6) A reference group must consist of members who have expertise in, or legal knowledge of, the subject matter for which the reference group is established.

Examples of sectors, groups and organisations from which members of reference groups might be drawn--: the domestic and family violence sector, the legal profession, the Judicial Commission of NSW, Aboriginal organisations and groups, the culturally and linguistically diverse sector, LGBTIQA+ groups, the disability sector, youth and childrens groups, victims and survivors of sexual or domestic and family violence and the families of victims and survivors


(7) In carrying out its purposes, the taskforce must consult with any reference group that is relevant to the particular purpose.


(8) The taskforce must give the Minister a report in relation to its main purposes--

(a) at least once in each 6 months during the period between the commencement of this provision and the commencement of the coercive control offence, and

(b) at least every 12 months after the commencement of the coercive control offence.

(9) The Minister must ensure a report under subsection (8) is tabled in each House of Parliament within 21 days after receiving it.


(10) The taskforce ceases to operate, and this section is repealed, on the day on which, under section 54J(5)(c), the report about the third review about this Division is tabled in the Legislative Assembly.


Proposed Legislation:


Division 6A Abusive behaviour towards intimate partners 54C Definitions

In this Division—

abusive behaviour—see section 54F.

adult means an individual who is 18 years of age or older.

course of conduct—see section 54G.

intimate partner, of a person (the first person), means a person who—

(a) is or has been married to the first person, or

(b) is or has been a de facto partner of the first person, or

Note— “De facto partner” is defined in the Interpretation Act 1987, section 21C.

(c) has or has had an intimate personal relationship with the first person, whether or not the intimate relationship involves or has involved a relationship of a sexual nature.

intimidation, of a person, has the same meaning as in the Crimes (Domestic and Personal Violence) Act 2007.

stalking has the same meaning as in the Crimes (Domestic and Personal Violence) Act 2007.


54D Abusive behaviour towards current or former intimate partners

(1) An adult commits an offence if—

(a) the adult engages in a course of conduct against another person that consists of abusive behaviour, and

(b) the adult and other person are or were intimate partners, and

(c) the adult intends the course of conduct to coerce or control the other person, and

(d) a reasonable person would consider the course of conduct would be likely, in all the circumstances, to cause any or all of the following, whether or not the fear or impact is in fact caused—

(i) fear that violence will be used against the other person or another person, or

(ii) a serious adverse impact on the capacity of the other person to engage in some or all of the person’s ordinary day-to-day activities.

Maximum penalty—Imprisonment for 7 years.


(2) For subsection (1)(a)—

(a) the course of conduct may be constituted by any combination of abusive behaviours, and

(b) whether the course of conduct consists of abusive behaviour must be assessed by considering the totality of the behaviours.


54E Defence

(1) In proceedings for an offence under section 54D(1), it is a defence if the course of conduct was reasonable in all the circumstances.


(2) For subsection (1), that the course of conduct was reasonable in all the circumstances is taken to be proven if—

(a) evidence adduced is capable of raising an issue as to whether the course of conduct is reasonable in all the circumstances, and

(b) the prosecution does not prove beyond reasonable doubt that the course of conduct is not reasonable in all the circumstances.


54F Meaning of “abusive behaviour”

(1) In this Division, abusive behaviour means behaviour that consists of or involves—

(a) violence or threats against, or intimidation of, a person, or

(b) coercion or control of the person against whom the behaviour is directed.


(2) Without limiting subsection (1), engaging in, or threatening to engage in, the following behaviour may constitute abusive behaviour—

(a) behaviour that causes harm to a child if a person fails to comply with demands made of the person,

(b) behaviour that causes harm to the person against whom the behaviour is directed, or another adult, if the person fails to comply with demands made of the person,

(c) behaviour that is economically or financially abusive,

Examples for paragraph (c)—

• withholding financial support necessary for meeting the reasonable living expenses of a person, or another person living with or dependent on the person, in circumstances in which the person is dependent on the financial support to meet the person’s living expenses

• preventing, or unreasonably restricting or regulating, a person seeking or keeping employment or having access to or control of the person’s income or financial assets, including financial assets held jointly with another person

(d) behaviour that shames, degrades or humiliates,

(e) behaviour that directly or indirectly harasses a person, or monitors or tracks a person’s activities, communications or movements, whether by physically following the person, using technology or in another way,

(f) behaviour that causes damage to or destruction of property,

(g) behaviour that prevents the person from doing any of the following or otherwise isolates the person—

(i) making or keeping connections with the person’s family, friends or culture,

(ii) participating in cultural or spiritual ceremonies or practice,

(iii) expressing the person’s cultural identity,

(h) behaviour that causes injury or death to an animal, or otherwise makes use of an animal to threaten a person,

(i) behaviour that deprives a person of liberty, restricts a person’s liberty or otherwise unreasonably controls or regulates a person’s day-to-day activities.


Examples for paragraph (i)—

• making unreasonable demands about how a person exercises the person’s personal, social or sexual autonomy and making threats of negative consequences for failing to comply with the demands

• denying a person access to basic necessities including food, clothing or sleep

• withholding necessary medical or other care, support, aids, equipment or essential support services from a person or compelling the person to take medication or undertake medical procedures


54G Meaning of “course of conduct”

(1) In this Division, a course of conduct means engaging in behaviour—

(a) either repeatedly or continuously, or

(b) both repeatedly and continuously.


(2) For subsection (1), behaviour does not have to be engaged in—

(a) as an unbroken series of incidents, or

(b) in immediate succession.


(3) For subsection (1), a course of conduct includes behaviour engaged in—

(a) in this State, and

(b) in this State and another jurisdiction.


54H Procedural requirements

(1) In proceedings for an offence under section 54D(1)—

(a) if a specific incident of abusive behaviour is alleged to form part of the course of conduct, the prosecution is not required to allege the particulars that would be necessary if the incident were charged as a separate offence, but

(b) the prosecution is required to allege—

(i) the nature and description of the behaviours that amount to the course of conduct, and

(ii) the particulars of the period of time over which the course of conduct took place.


(2) For the accused to be convicted of an offence under section 54D(1), the trier of fact—

(a) must be satisfied beyond reasonable doubt that the evidence establishes a course of conduct that consists of abusive behaviour, and

(b) is not required to be satisfied of the particulars of any specific incident of behaviour alleged to form part of the course of conduct that it would have to be satisfied of if the incident were charged as a separate offence.

Note— This Division does not affect the common law in relation to double jeopardy.


54ICoercive Control Implementation and Evaluation Taskforce

(1) The Minister must establish a Coercive Control Implementation and Evaluation Taskforce.


(2) The taskforce is to include the following members appointed by the Minister—

(a) the Secretary of the department in which this Act is administered, who is to be the chairperson of the taskforce,

(b) a representative of the NSW Police Force,

(c) the chair of the Domestic and Family Violence and Sexual Assault Council,

(d) a member from the domestic and family violence sector with substantial expertise and experience in domestic and family violence service delivery.


(3) The main purposes of the taskforce are as follows—

(a) to consult with stakeholders, including reference groups established under this section, about the offence under section 54D (the coercive control offence) and related matters,

(b) to provide advice about, and monitor, training, education and resourcing in relation to the coercive control offence,

(c) to provide advice about the commencement dates of, and interaction between, the definition of domestic abuse in the Crimes (Domestic and Personal Violence) Act 2007, section 6A and the coercive control offence,

(d) to evaluate implementation of the coercive control offence and resourcing in relation to the coercive control offence,

(e) to monitor the operation of this Division, including—

(i) the practical application of defences to the coercive control offence, and

(ii) resourcing in relation to the operation of the Division,

(f) to provide advice to the Minister about other matters related to a matter in paragraph (a)–(e) or the coercive control offence.


(4) The chairperson of the taskforce must convene the first meeting of the taskforce within 1 month after the commencement of this section.


(5) The taskforce must establish reference groups to consider, and provide advice and recommendations to the taskforce about any of the following matters—

(a) the impact of this Division on specific communities,

Examples— Aboriginal persons, the LGBTIQA+ community

(b) particular elements of the Division.


(6) A reference group must consist of members who have expertise in, or legal

knowledge of, the subject matter for which the reference group is established.

Examples of sectors, groups and organisations from which members of reference groups might be drawn— the domestic and family violence sector, the legal profession, the Judicial Commission of NSW, Aboriginal organisations and groups, the culturally and linguistically diverse sector, LGBTIQA+ groups, the disability sector, youth and childrens groups, victims and survivors of sexual or domestic and family violence and the families of victims and survivors


(7) In carrying out its purposes, the taskforce must consult with any reference group that is relevant to the particular purpose.


(8) The taskforce must give the Minister a report in relation to its main purposes—

(a) at least once in each 6 months during the period between the commencement of this provision and the commencement of the coercive control offence, and

(b) at least every 12 months after the commencement of the coercive control offence.


(9) The Minister must ensure a report under subsection (8) is tabled in each House of Parliament within 21 days after receiving it.


(10) The taskforce ceases to operate, and this section is repealed, on the day on which, under section 54J(5)(c), the report about the third review about this Division is tabled in the Legislative Assembly.

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