Last Monday I joined women and people from across Sydney to call for more work to protect women and people who are gender diverse from violence and sexual assault in their homes, workplaces, schools and the public domain.
In Parliament we considered ways to address family and domestic violence through a bill introduced by the Member for Shellharbour to make coercive control a criminal offence. Family and domestic violence rates are high and far too many women, children, elders, and LGBTQIA+ people in the community are suffering.
Abuse often starts before any apparent violence through coercive behaviours aimed at inciting fear, cementing power and control over someone, and crushing their confidence. Coercive control includes controlling access to finances, monitoring movements, and isolating a person from their friends and family and I support a new criminal offence. More work is needed to ensure any new offence cannot be used on victims and a parliamentary inquiry is looking at the detail; I will monitor this progress.
Criminal justice is not the silver bullet for family and domestic violence and during debate I again called for a fully funded sector covering prevention, early intervention and education and for dedicated social housing for women escaping abuse.
Cultural change towards respect for all, regardless of sex, gender, LGBTQIA+ status, marital status and age is key. We need to address the laws and social structures that foster discrimination, and the gender biases that help perpetrators justify abuse.