26 September 2023

New laws to target domestic violence

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Controlling and abusive behaviour is to be criminalised in South Australia under new legislation aimed at preventing serious domestic and family violence offences.

Announcing the new laws, Attorney-General Vickie Chapman said abusive behaviours, such as coercive control, could cause long-term harm to a victim and were often a precursor to domestic homicide.

Ms Chapman said that under the Criminal Law Consolidation (Abusive Behaviour) Amendment Bill 2021, introduced to Parliament last week (27 October), three or more instances of abuse would constitute an offence, including racking a victim’s movements and communications; isolating the victim from their family, friends or other supports; threatening to harm an animal belonging to the victim; and depriving the victim of food, clothing or sleep.

“This behaviour can isolate a victim and erode their confidence, autonomy and wellbeing,” Ms Chapman said.

“Be it emotional, physical or psychological – we will not tolerate domestic abuse of any kind and will do all we can to stop it at the start,” she said.

“By criminalising this type of controlling behaviour, we will give authorities the legislative tools they need to act before irreversible damage occurs.”

Ms Chapman said the Bill had undergone targeted and public consultation and incorporated the feedback that was received.

Assistant Minister for Domestic and Family Violence, Carolyn Power said the new laws aimed to raise awareness within the broader community as to what constituted abusive behaviour.

“It is crucial people know how to recognise the signs and realise when behaviour is becoming controlling and abusive,” Ms Power said.

“If these laws pass, there will be a considerable lead-in time to allow for extensive education and training to occur,” she said.

Attorney-General, Ms Chapman said an implementation strategy discussion paper would be released in the coming months for public comment.

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