Alarming domestic violence surge sees Georges River Council advocate for criminalisation of controlling behaviour

Alarming domestic violence surge sees Georges River Council advocate for criminalisation of controlling behaviour

The Georges River community recorded a 13 per cent increase in domestic violence related assaults in the calendar year from 2018 to 2019, compared to an average increase of 5.3 per cent across NSW in the same period.

The alarming figures saw Georges River Councillors vote unanimously to advocate for the criminalisation of coercive control, in recognition of the alarming increase in domestic violence incidents in the Georges River community.

In a Notice of Motion, Councillor Colleen Symington called for the NSW Government to criminalise coercive control.

"Coercive control is a term used to describe the pattern of abusive treatment of mostly women by their intimate partner. This treatment is used to intimidate, belittle, frighten, and ultimately gain total control of their victim", Councillor Symington said.

"Coercive control almost always follows the same script. The perpetrator seeks to dominate and isolate their victims, micro-managing their behaviour, humiliating and degrading them. Confusion, contradiction and danger, held together by a believable threat of violence.

"The effects of coercive control are profoundly damaging and long-lasting. This ongoing mental torture can be just as, or even more painful and distressing, as physical violence. This type of domestic abuse currently goes unpunished under NSW laws.

"Coercive control has been recognised as the strongest indicator of potential homicide by an intimate partner, and a recent domestic homicide review in NSW identified 77 out of 78 perpetrators had used coercive control before killing their partners.

"There are many residents of our own Georges River Council community, who suffer the devastating impact of coercive controlling behaviour in silence," Cr Symington said.

Georges River Council will write to the NSW Premier to advocate for the criminalisation of coercive control within NSW, highlighting the Scottish example of The Domestic Abuse (Scotland) Act that criminalises psychological domestic abuse and coercive and controlling behaviour.

Recent self-isolation measures imposed to limit the spread of COVID-19 have significantly impacted vulnerable people in the Georges River community, with the Legal Aid Domestic Violence assistance line reporting a 25 per cent increase in requests for help.

The community can help fight domestic violence locally by donating to the new women's refuge centre in the Georges River area at: www.kingswaycare.org.au/appeal/23-survivors

Donations of canned goods and non-perishable food items for the centre are also being accepted at the Hurstville customer service centre between Monday to Friday, 8.30am and 5.00pm.

If anyone requires immediate accommodation call Link2Home 1800 152 152 or DV Line 1800 664 63. For more information on Kingsway Community Care, visit kingswaycare.org.au/platform-nine

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