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Coercive control: it’s been on the national mind increasingly over the past decade, and in recent years, calls for action have become louder since the horrific death of Hannah Clarke.  Clarke was ultimately murdered by her ex-husband, after having been coercively controlled by him for years.

Recently, the various state and territory Attorneys-General have joined forces and written a set of eight draft national principles to address this insidious and common form of family violence in Australia.

And now it’s your turn to let your voice be heard, in responding to the draft ideas.

Maybe you’ve experienced coercive control yourself, or seen a loved one suffer because of it.  People with such lived experience are invited to contribute through an online survey, which you can find here.

The recent meeting of state and territory A-Gs (known as the “Standing Council”) led to federal A-G Mark Dreyfus announcing on 16 September 2022 that the public consultation phase had begun into issues around coercive control.

Taking a nationalised approach to the problem is welcomed, rather than having a patchwork of different policies and frameworks around the country.

What is coercive control?

Currently regarded as a pattern of abusive behaviour that a perpetrator uses to create and keep power over another person or persons, coercive control is  very often present in situations involving family violence.

With coercive control, abusive behaviours are used against victims in a pattern over time. The intention of the aggressor is commonly to maintain power and dominance over their target.  Coercively controlling behaviours can be physical or non-physical or a combination of both.

What is the purpose of the National Principles?

The A-Gs’ Consultation Draft sets out eight National Principles, aiming to understand coercive control and its impacts and how the system should be reformed, including whether coercive control should be criminalised.

Lawmakers will use the National Principles as a foundation for future policy-making, and findings will be relied on by non-government organisations to inform their services.  For the community at large, the National Principles will also help support more community awareness on the subject of coercive control.

The reason the community is being asked to respond is because the National Principles should reflect the views of the Australian community.  A wide range of responses is hoped to be garnered, including from people with lived experience of coercive control, those affected by discrimation and inequality generally, service providers, research and advocacy organisations, among other stakeholders.

The subject coercive control was also canvassed for community responses during the course of other recent government family law inquiries, so you may have given your views before in other contexts.  According to Mr Dreyfus, the National Principles were developed based on outcomes of those recent inquiries and reviews. Even if you contributed already to past inquiries, if you have lived experienced of coercive control, consider giving your views again on this draft document with its very specific focus on coercive control.

So do the draft National Principles achieve their intended objectives? Over to you. Make sure the powers that be have listened to your concerns or personal experiences so that you can ensure future policies properly address this issue. Have your say before Friday, 11 November 2022.

If you or someone you know is impacted by family, domestic or sexual violence, call 1800RESPECT on 1800 737 732 or visit

For family law advice, please contact Canberra family lawyer Cristina Huesch or one of our other experienced solicitors here at Alliance Family Law on (02) 6223 2400,

Please note our blogs are not legal advice. For information on. how to obtain the correct legal advice, please contact Alliance Family Law.


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