Domestic violence deaths mar International Women’s Day

The death of Lilie James is among a number of suspected domestic violence cases in recent months.

The death of Lilie James is among a number of suspected domestic violence cases in recent months. Photo: AAP

Deaths of women in suspected acts of domestic violence have cast a shadow over the months leading up to International Women’s Day.

In October, 21-year-old water polo coach Lilie James was found dead in a Sydney school, believed to have been murdered by her 24-year-old partner.

A 44-year-old man was charged with murder after his wife was found dead at a property south of Brisbane in February.

One month earlier, a 42-year-old man was charged with murder in after his 65-year-old mother died following an alleged arson attack.

According to research group Counting Dead Women Australia, 64 were killed in incidents of violence against women and on Friday, people across Australia will remember those lost and those who survived.

Environment Minister Tanya Plibersek will attend an International Women’s Day event in Sydney with her daughter Anna Coutts-Trotter, a survivor of sexual and domestic violence.

Coutts-Trotter began experiencing violence in her relationship when she was 15. In 2019, Plibersek chose not to run for the Labor Party leadership because her daughter was appearing as a witness in court during a legal action relating to the abuse.

“He was emotionally, physically, financially and sexually abusive,” Coutts-Trotter said.

“I became a shell of myself.”

The effects of abuse extend far beyond physical and mental harms.

Domestic and family violence was the leading cause of homelessness for women, with nearly half of those seeking homelessness assistance citing it as a reason, a report from Homelessness Australia found.

And the number of them that have been forced to sleep rough, in cars or couch surf after receiving support has at least doubled over the previous decade.

Part of this could be attributed to the property market’s male skew.

According to CoreLogic, women are more likely to own residential property with someone else, while men had a higher rate of sole ownership.

This tends to even out as populations age, but CoreLogic report author Eliza Owen said this could cause issues.

“Presumably the gender-based home-ownership gap closes in part due to the formation of couples and family households,” she said.

“While the pay gap between men and women becomes less important for mixed-gender couples, it may pose potential risks during relationship breakdowns.”

As a result, the federal government has focused on the safety and success of women ahead of International Women’s Day.

On Thursday it announced women would be paid super on government-funded paid parental leave, as part of a gender-equality strategy.

In recent months the government has also unveiled a text line for women to discretely contact domestic violence service 1800RESPECT and also introduced 10 days of paid family and domestic violence leave in 2023.

“We are focused on ending violence against women and children, and ensuring those impacted are able to access the support and recovery assistance they need to lead a safe and fulfilling life,” Social Services Minister Amanda Rishworth said.

1800 RESPECT 1800 737 732

Lifeline 131 114


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