The State Government intends to consult on, develop and introduce legislation to criminalise coercive control.

What is coercive control?

Coercive control is an underreported type of domestic violence where an abuser seeks to control a victim's behaviour.

It can include:

  • attempting to isolate someone from their friends and family
  • controlling their finances
  • monitoring what they say, what they wear and even what they eat or when they sleep.

Coercive control is not currently a standalone offence in South Australia. This discussion paper explores what implementation processes would be needed, should there be a move to criminalise coercive control in the future.

Consultation on criminalising coercive control

The Attorney-General's Department released a discussion paper exploring the measures needed to support the implementation of a criminal offence of coercive control, should it be introduced in South Australia.

The Discussion paper - Implementation considerations should coercive control be introduced in South Australia  (PDF, 1.1 MB) was released for public consultation on 2 February 2022 to obtain feedback on the themes of awareness raising, education and training, services for victim-survivors and responses to perpetrators.

The consultation period closed 1 April 2022.

The Attorney-General's Department received 22 submissions from a broad range of agencies and organisations, including:

  • general support services for victim-survivors and perpetrators
  • legal assistance services
  • advocacy groups
  • an academic
  • interested individuals.

The Submissions report (PDF, 372.2 KB) provides an overview of the feedback received in response to the questions, as well as additional issues raised by respondents.

During September and October 2021, consultation on a proposed South Australian offence of coercive control was conducted.

There were 173 respondents to a public survey and more detailed submissions received from 31 individuals and organisations.

The feedback noted the importance of the implementation process with suggestions including:

  • training for enforcement agencies to identify, charge and prosecute coercive control
  • a public awareness campaign
  • wrap-around support services for victims
  • a focus on regional and remote victims, Aboriginal communities and migrant communities.

Additional background information about the 2021 community consultation can be found on YourSAy.

Next steps

Over the next few months, the South Australian Government will continue to undertake targeted consultation with groups in the community for whom the implementation of the Bill may have different or additional implications.

It is essential that a future Bill is drafted with a strong emphasis on community and sector consultation on the supports that will be needed to ensure criminalisation is effective.

The Department of Human Services through the Office for Women will be consulting with groups including:

  • women who have experienced coercive control
  • Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women and their communities
  • women from different culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds
  • the organisations that work with these groups.

The Office for Women will also undertake consultation with people living in regional communities.

We know that coercive and controlling behaviours are complex and look vastly different for different people. By hearing directly from people within these groups we can work to ensure the implementation of the Bill is effective for all South Australians.

Alongside this consultation, we are committed to raising community awareness about this form of domestic abuse that is too often not recognised. Broad information for the community will be made available.