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Policy report

Addressing coercive control without criminalisation

Avoiding blunt tools that fail victim-survivors
Coercive control Victims of family violence Family violence Aboriginal people (Australia) Australia

This policy brief sets out the Victorian Aboriginal Legal Service’s position on the criminalisation of coercive control. It draws on international research and experience, consultation with other organisations working in this space, and their own work with clients. Understanding the impact of any legal change on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in Victoria is essential before major reform is undertaken.

VALS’ position on coercive control has been informed by a continuing discussion among Aboriginal women who, bringing their expertise as researchers, activists and victim-survivors, have shone a light on the way responses to family violence are failing Aboriginal people.

In the past eighteen months in Australia, coercive control – a particularly damaging form of domestic abuse – has moved from being a subject of interest for domestic violence organisations to an issue of intense public debate. Coercive control is becoming more widely recognised as a grave social problem, and there is a growing focus on the possibility of creating a new criminal offence as the centrepiece of a societal response to this deeply concerning type of abuse.

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