On 14 October 2022, the Palaszczuk Government introduced a Bill that proposes new coercive control laws. It is hoped that the Bill will deliver solutions to many of the systemic problems with the current legislative framework, as identified in the recommendations by the Women’s Safety and Justice Taskforce report, Hear Her Voice.
What is coercive control?
Coercive control is a systematic and patterned violation of rights and liberties.
What are the proposed changes?
The Bill proposes various amendments to the Domestic and Family Violence Protection Act 2012 (Qld), including the following:
1. The definition of domestic and family violence will be enlarged to include a ‘pattern of behaviour’.
2. The Court will be able to better consider the history of domestic violence in each case.
3. The Court will have greater powers in cases of cross applications to ensure that the person most at risk is provided with protection. To determine who is most at risk, the Court will be required to consider:
(a) the history of the relationship and the history of domestic violence
(b) the nature and severity of the harm caused to each person by the behaviour of the other person
(c) the level of fear experienced by each person because of the behaviour of the other person
(d) which person has the capacity to:
(i) seriously harm the other person
(ii) control or dominate the other person and cause the other person to fear for their safety or wellbeing, or that of their child or pet
(e) whether a person has characteristics that may make them particularly vulnerable to domestic violence.
4. The Bill also proposes amendments to the Criminal Code Act 1995 (Qld) to modernise the offence of unlawful stalking, intimidation, harassment or abuse. The changes include allowance for a greater penalty where:
(a) any these offences occurs in the context of a domestic relationship between the perpetrator and the victim
(b) the perpetrator has previously been convicted of a domestic violence offence in the previous five years .
If you need advice about any of the issues raised in this article, please contact a member of Cooper Grace Ward’s family law team.