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National data needed on domestic violence-related homicides

Discrimination Sex Discrimination

The right to live free from violence is a fundamental and core human right, and yet it is one which is not currently realised for far too many women and girls in Australia.

Speaking at the ANROWS National Research Conference on Violence Against Women and Children, the Sex Discrimination Commissioner Kate Jenkins said it’s unacceptable that;

• almost 1 in 5 women in Australia will experience sexual violence at some point in their lifetimes,
• that 1 in 2 women will be sexually harassed and
• 1 in 4 women will experience violence perpetrated by an intimate partner.

Commissioner Jenkins said Australia is a world leader in terms of data collection in relation to gender-based violence, and gender equality.

However, she said there is a significant gap in information about domestic violence-related homicides.

“While Coroners operate in Tasmania and the Australian Capital Territory, these jurisdictions do not have established entities to collect death review data on all domestic and family violence deaths.

“It is therefore not possible to compare deaths Australia wide.

“Behind each homicide is a personal story of tragedy and loss. Examining these deaths collectively, as well as the factors and system failures which precede them, can teach us important lessons,” she said.
Commissioner Jenkins said the Australian Human Rights Commission has been working with death review teams and conducting research to determine the best way of approaching a national system of death review.  

“Just last week we heard reports of what appears to be a horrific family violence homicide in Margaret River, involving the murder of six family members and the suicide of one other.

“These are the stories that haunt us, that galvanise public opinion and that prompt political leaders to take action.

“It is clear that national data and reporting are key to providing law and policy makers with the information they need to better target services and interventions.

“We must have a national evidence base on which to base actions to address domestic violence homicides.

“It is critical that we learn the painful lessons arising from past tragedy in order to prevent avoidable deaths in the future.