The new year could see drastic changes to NSW domestic violence law with amendments to criminalise coercive and controlling behaviours in domestic relationships.
Women's Safety NSW are pushing to ensure the amendments currently being considered to the NSW Crimes (Domestic and Personal Violence) Act are passed by circulating a petition to gain broad community support for the bill.
"Coercive control is at the core of domestic and family violence," Hayley Foster, CEO of Women's Safety NSW said.
"It is not a new concept for those having worked with women who have experienced domestic and family violence, but it hasn't actually been recognised within the law to date.
"It is the biggest red flag for domestic homicide."
Coercive control is a pattern of behaviours said Ms Foster, that can include psychological abuse, financial control, intimidation and surveillance to ensure the isolation of the victim and to establish and instill fear within the victim.
"They are used by an abuser over time with the purpose of instilling fear and to establish and maintain control and domination over their partner, or ex-partner or other family member," Ms Foster explained.
The bill Preethi's Law introduced to NSW parliament in September 2020 by Labour MP Anna Watson would see coercive control behaviours become a criminal act and therefore ensuring further protections for victims.
Deputy CEO of Linking Communities Network in Griffith, Kirrilly Salvestro welcomes the support for the bill and says that coercive control behaviours are present in almost all of the cases that they deal with.
"I would say in practically all cases of domestic and family violence that we see in the riverina region would demonstrate these behaviours," Ms Salvestro said.
The police and courts do their best said Ms Salvestro, but often find their hands are tied when charging and convicting these behaviours.
"Currently women will take out A.V.O's against the perpetrator of domestic violence but without the legislation of coercive control, those orders are sometimes limited," she said.
"We would absolutely support members of the Griffith community signing the petition and I think all members of the community should do so, men and women."
Griffith residents wishing to sign the petition and support the campaign can find a direct link here, an action that Ms Foster says will ensure the community will be heard on this issue.
"We want to make the voices of victim survivors and members of the community right across the state heard," she said.
You can find out more information about coercive control and the Women's Safety NSW petition on their website.
If you or someone you know is experiencing violence, please contact 1800RESPECT on 1800 737 732 or Griffith women's refuge on (02) 6964 3381.