Embolden logo on paper

Embolden SA Position Paper on Coercive Control and the Law in South Australia

Today, Friday 3 September 2021, Embolden SA is releasing our Position Paper on Coercive Control and the Law in South Australia.

Over recent years, there has been growing awareness around Australia of coercive control as a distinct aspect of domestic, family and sexual violence, characterised by a pattern of controlling and manipulative behaviours that erode the freedom, autonomy and human rights of those subjected to it.

In particular, the brutal murder of Hannah Clarke and her three children in March 2020, and awareness-raising by her parents and other women’s safety advocates, is regarded as a flashpoint for this issue. This includes prompting discussion around how Australian federal and state law and justice systems may better support victim-survivors’ safety regarding coercive control, including potential for legislative reform.

Embolden’s Position Paper on Coercive Control and the Law in SA calls for a three-pronged approach consisting of:

  • Immediate action to strengthen existing supports, while
  • Working towards national definitions and community understanding of coercive control specifically, and domestic, family and sexual violence more broadly, alongside
  • Thorough consideration of where the issue of coercive control is to be most safely and effectively placed in South Australian law (whether criminal, civil, or both codes), to be undertaken by SALRI and in close consultation with victim-survivors, the specialist domestic, family and sexual violence sector, women’s legal services, and other key stakeholders

This position paper has been prepared by Embolden with consultation and input from its members and key stakeholders. This includes women with and without children who have lived experience of coercive control in the context of domestic, sexual and family violence. Our position has been developed with reference to the available literature and evidence base on coercive control and legislative measures to prevent and respond to this abuse in Australia and worldwide.

“There is no one-size-fits-all solution to stop coercive control, and new laws alone aren’t a magic bullet that will stop perpetrators from doing harm. There are many ways we can strengthen existing responses to support those affected by domestic, family and sexual violence, while we take the proper time to consider how any new legislation may impact their safety.”

Embolden Co-Chair Susie Smith

“Women and children’s safety, followed by perpetrator accountability, must always be the primary considerations in any work to end domestic and family violence. Building shared understanding of what coercive control is, who it affects most, and what drives it is key in learning how to stop it before it starts in our families and communities.”

Embolden Co-Chair Maria Hagias