White Ribbon Australia calls for coercive control to be criminalised

White Ribbon Australia has joined Are Media (formerly Bauer Media) and some of Australia's most significant domestic violence groups and legal advocates, to form a coalition demanding government's around Australia introduce a new nationally consistent offence to criminalise coercive control.

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White Ribbon Australia has joined Are Media (formerly Bauer Media) and some of Australia's most significant domestic violence groups and legal advocates, to form a coalition demanding government's around Australia introduce a new nationally consistent offence to criminalise coercive control.

The launch of the Criminalise Coercive Control Campaign was held yesterday at Women's Safety NSW in Sydney with a firm call to State and Territory governments to change legislation on the issue that is a strong precursor to physical assault and associated with 99% of cases where a woman is killed by her partner or ex-partner.

White Ribbon Australia's Executive Director Brad Chilcott joined the live-streamed event via a Zoom link to release findings of a national Essential Media poll of 1,074 Australians we commissioned, revealing that 70% of respondents support the idea of criminalising coercive control.*

Coercive control is the foundational element of domestic abuse towards women in which the perpetrator uses a range of deliberate tactics, including psychological and other forms of abuse such manipulation and surveillance, intimidation, isolation from family and friends, humiliation and threats - behaviours that perpetrators use to dominate and control their victims. 

In addition, the poll revealed that, 81% of respondents – 26% 'definitely' and 55% 'probably' - thought it unlikely a perpetrator would be detected or charged with domestic violence unless they physically injure, stalk a person, breach a domestic violence order or damage property.

In his speech, Brad explained that coercive control laws would make it clear what kind of behaviour our society sees as acceptable and unacceptable.

"A staggering 81% of Australians believe a perpetrator would not get charged by police unless they physically injured or stalked someone, or broke a domestic violence order. Australians know that the law does not protect people from a pattern of harmful controlling behaviour. Perpetrators know they can get away with it. Victims know it won't be taken seriously," he said.​

"On a positive front, 70% of Australians believe that coercive control should be a crime – that means that when Australians hear us speak about a pattern of controlling abuse that this resonates, they intrinsically recognise the damage it does and that it has no place in our society.

"Australians want perpetrators of coercive control held to account – and they want to stop more people from this kind of intimate terrorism in the future. It's time for coercive control to become a criminal offence," he added.

Sign the online petition here and listen to Brad's conversation with Jenna Clarke on The West Live here.

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