Tough new domestic violence laws to tackle abuse

Laws aimed at preventing serious domestic and family violence offences, including murder, have been introduced to State Parliament.

The new legislation would criminalise controlling and abusive behaviours, such as coercive control, against partners or former partners in South Australia.

Attorney-General Vickie Chapman said these abusive behaviours can cause long-term harm to a victim and are often a precursor to domestic homicide.

“This behaviour can isolate a victim and erode their confidence, autonomy and wellbeing,” Attorney-General 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.

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

Under the Bill, three or more instances of abuse would constitute an offence – including;

  • Tracking a victim’s movements and communications (by physically following the person, using apps or installing cameras in the home)
  • Isolating the victim from their family, friends or other supports
  • Threatening to harm an animal belonging to the victim
  • Depriving the victim of food, clothing or sleep

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

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

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

“This would include public awareness campaigns as well as training for police and other key sectors,” she said.

The Bill underwent targeted and public consultation last month, with feedback incorporated into the Bill being introduced this week.

“We have listened to stakeholders and the community, to ensure our legislation strikes the right balance between being effective and all encompassing,” Attorney-General Chapman said.

“By having this public discussion, we are beginning the education process, and drawing the community’s attention to this insidious form of domestic abuse,” she said.

An implementation strategy discussion paper will be released in the coming months for public comment.