Catholic Religious Australia (CRA) calls on all leaders of faith-based communities to raise their voices against domestic and family abuse. Legislative action from the NSW Government and the call from the Australian Catholic Bishops for Church communities to confront this serious social injustice is welcomed and supported by CRA.
As Social Justice Sunday in the Australian Catholic Church is held on 28 August, CRA President, Peter Carroll FMS says, “The Church can play an important role in listening to and validating the experience of victims of domestic and family abuse. Forgiveness does not mean staying in an abusive relationship. Church leaders need to speak about this challenging topic in appropriate ways, recognising that abuse is occurring in families within their communities.”
This call is timely as the national conversation regarding coercive control in domestic abuse gains momentum. Recently, Federal and State Attorneys-General agreed to create a national plan to respond effectively to coercive control, across all States and Territories.
The NSW and QLD state governments have committed to introducing legislation to criminalise behaviour that amounts to coercive control. CRA has made a submission to support the proposed NSW Crimes Legislation Amendment (Coercive Control) Bill 2022 to close gaps that currently exist in NSW criminal law. This includes a clear and accessible legal definition of domestic abuse and a stand-alone criminal offence of coercive control.
“It’s deeply concerning that under current NSW criminal law, non-physical forms of violence by an intimate partner are not identified as domestic violence and therefore police cannot appropriately respond to this suffering,” said Br Peter.
The incidence of domestic and family abuse is at a similar or higher rate in Christian households as in wider society, according to a recent National Anglican Family Violence Research report. Faith-based communities can both help and hinder people in abusive relationships, according to a recent report from the Royal Commission into Family Violence.
“Leaders of Church communities have a responsibility to educate communities on what constitutes abusive behaviour and assist those who are suffering to find a way to safety,” said Anne Walker, CRA’s National Executive Director.
“Safeguarding, in all its forms, must be the continual work of the Church,” she added.
With thanks to Catholic Religious Australia.