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The Rise in Domestic Violence – What is being done?

This year the government’s Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW) compiled data on the prevalence of domestic violence. It was found that on average one woman every week is killed by a current or former partner. In addition to this the report found that family violence had rapidly grown in the last five years.

Statistically speaking some of the key findings of the report can be summarised as such:

  • 1 in 6 women have experienced physical and/or sexual violence by a cohabiting partner since the age of 15
  • 1 woman a week was killed by a current or former partner in the two years from 2012 to 14
  • 2800 women were hospitalised in 2014-15 after being assaulted by a spouse or partner
  • Intimate partner violence causes more illness, disability and deaths than any other risk factor for women aged 25-44

In more recent times, you only need to look at the media headlines to know that domestic violence is a frequent occurrence. At the start of this month State Coroner Sara Hinchey released her findings into the death of Ms Rowley, a Mother of three who was strangled to death by her former partner. The coroner called for Victoria Police to review all cases of family violence related deaths where there was a known history of violence. As it currently stands Victoria Police does not have a process that follows deaths involving prior police contact or a formal process for internal review following family violence related deaths.

On the same day as the Coroner released her report a man was charged with murdering Samantha Fraser, mother of three, and Borce Ristevski was committed to stand trial for murdering his wife in 2016.

So what is being done?

In response to the Coroners’ report Victoria Police made a statement that in anticipation of recommendations they are already working out how to conduct a review into the response to domestic violence. A police spokesman said ‘we are committed to reducing the prevalence of family violence and the significant harm perpetrators of these crimes cause to victims’. The reviews will be conducted on a case-by-case basis so to avoid interference with other probes such as homicide investigations. Premier Daniel Andrews was in support of the movement.

In addition to this, as of the 1st of August millions of workers around Australia can now access unpaid domestic violence leave. Employees on modern awards can take up to 5 days of unpaid leave to deal with family and domestic violence following a ruling made by the Fair Work Commission.

A copy of the AIHW’s report can be found here: http://www.documentcloud.org/documents/4390341-AIHW-Family-domestic-and-sexual-violence-in.html#document/p2


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