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Women’s murders were spiking even before recent surge

Anthony Albanese says there's more work to do on the prevention of violence against women.

Anthony Albanese says there's more work to do on the prevention of violence against women. Photo: AAP

The number of women killed by an intimate partner was rising sharply even before the recent spate of deaths sparked outrage and protests across the country.

The number of women murdered by former or current partners rose by 28 per cent in the year to June 2023, the latest Homicide in Australia report shows as the prime minister prepares to convene an urgent meeting of the nation’s leaders.

Released by the Australian Institute of Criminology on Tuesday, it found 16 per cent of all homicides in 2022/23 were carried out by a current or former intimate partner.

Of those, 89 per cent of all victims of intimate partner homicides were women.

Prime Minister Anthony Albanese will meet state and territory leaders at a virtual national cabinet on Wednesday to discuss preventative measures for violence against women.

The family and sexual violence commissioner has been invited to make a presentation at the specially convened cabinet.

The meeting will examine measures to strengthen prevention and focus on online harms, including countering violent and misogynistic content.

Further opportunities for states and the Commonwealth to share information about high-risk perpetrators and serial offenders will also be examined.

“This is not a women’s issue, it is a national crisis and we have to take responsibility for addressing it as a nation,” Mr Albanese said.

“It is not enough to support victims, or mourn them – we need to focus on the perpetrators and on prevention.”

Information sharing, judicial reforms, frontline service resourcing and perpetrator accountability all needed to be addressed, NSW Women’s Safety Commissioner Hannah Tonkin said.

Law reforms needed to look at what conditions were placed on apprehended violence orders and penalties for breaches, especially for repeat and high-risk offenders, she said.

“We know that the majority of perpetrators are men and the majority of survivors are women, so in most cases we are talking about men exercising power and control over women,” Dr Tonkin told the ABC’s 7:30 program on Monday.

“We need to see how we can prevent that and prevent the murders from continuing to happen.”

Young boys’ exposure to online porn while they were developing attitudes about women and relationships also needed to be addressed, the commissioner said.

“Boys and young men are exposed to really extreme online misogyny, often from a very early age and it is often targeting them through the algorithms and in an aggressive way,” she said.

Widespread rallies across the country at the weekend, with thousands of demonstrators calling for further action from the government, have added urgency to the situation.

Australian Institute of Criminology deputy director Rick Brown said the overall homicide rate in the country was four per cent higher in 2022/23 than the previous year.

Women killed by an intimate partner increased by 28 per cent, Dr Brown said.

The institute’s report also found 49 per cent of all female homicide victims in the past financial year were killed by their current or former intimate partner.

Of the 69 women killed in homicides where the offender was known, 17 per cent were killed by another family member.

“Female victims were much less likely than male victims to be killed by an acquaintance or by a stranger,” the report said.

Despite the rise in overall homicides, the 2022/23 rate marked a 52 per cent reduction compared to 1989/90.

There were 232 homicide incidents, with 247 victims and 260 offenders, in the past financial year.

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-AAP

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