Domestic violence: Australia’s silent epidemic

Madeline Link reports on Australia’s underfunded epidemic.



Domestic violence is now the leading preventable cause of death and injury to women under 45. At current rates, more than two women fall victim to death at the hands of an intimate partner each week.

Perpetrators of violence are overwhelmingly perceived as the dangerous stranger in the night, despite evidence from the ABS 2012 Personal Safety Australia report that dictates 15 percent of all women are sexually assaulted by a known person, compared to 3.8 percent that are sexually assaulted by a stranger.

Women’s rights activists have called for the Government to take serious action against domestic violence. This year alone, 34 women have been murdered at the hands of a partner, ex-partner or family member in Australia.

Prime Minister Tony Abbott announced the formation of an advisory panel to combat violence against women last month. Domestic violence costs the Australian economy an estimated $13.6 billion a year, yet a mere $100 million commitment was made to the panel, and is set to roll out a national action plan over the next four years. The panel is led by Australian of the Year, Rosie Batty and former Victorian police chief, Ken Lay.

Chief Executive of Domestic Violence NSW, Moo Baulch wants increased funding to tackle domestic violence.

“There’s not enough money in the sector, and a study showed one in two [women] couldn’t get into a refuge. We need the money to deliver co-ordinated, integrated services to respond to every victim of domestic violence in NSW,” she told The Sydney Morning Herald.

Advocacy bodies are calling for a royal commission into domestic violence and want greater funding for programs aimed at reducing violence against women.

Helen Brereton from the Women’s Domestic Violence Court Advocacy Service in NSW told ABC news that domestic violence had reached epidemic levels.

“We know that domestic violence is the leading cause of death and injury and illness for women in Australia,” she said.

“The statistics have been growing steadily over time as more women are reporting. So it’s shocking to hear these statistics, but what is less shocking just for me, is just how widespread this issue is. And it’s time really not to sweep it under the carpet, to have conversations about it and I think also we need stronger leadership from government, from our communities to really take some action.”

It was June 23 2013 that The Sydney Morning Herald National published the article, “Domestic violence becoming ‘greatest social epidemic of our time’” but since this report, instances of violence against women have only continued to grow.



Image: European Parliament, Flickr, no changes made.

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