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Australia’s domestic violence epidemic looks set to become key election issue

Scott Morrison and Kelly O’Dwyer have thrown their weight behind the funding boost. Images: AAP
Scott Morrison and Kelly O’Dwyer have thrown their weight behind the funding boost. Images: AAP

Australia’s domestic violence epidemic looks set to become a key election issue, with the Coalition party pledging an additional $328 million to domestic violence prevention strategies following Labor’s $60 million pitch.

This funding boost will include $82 million for frontline services, another $68 million for prevention program and $78 million for safe spaces.

Another $35 million will go to support Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities and the national sexual assault and domestic violence phone counselling service will receive $62 million.

This funding boost will include $82 million for frontline services, another $68 million for prevention program and $78 million for safe spaces.

Another $35 million will go to support Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities and the national sexual assault and domestic violence phone counselling service will receive $62 million.

The $328 million sum reflects a sharp increase from the previously pledged $100 million.

Minister for Women, Kelly O’Dwyer said the funding injection is the result of an understanding that “we have to attack this problem at its source”.

“There can be no more important priority for government than keeping women and children safe,” she said today.

“It is terrible to think that on average eight women present every day to a hospital because of violence against them – family or domestic violence.”

Prime Minister Scott Morrison said Australia needs to counter the culture of disrespect towards women in order to stop the violence.

“A culture of disrespect towards women is a precursor to violence, and anyone who doesn’t see that is kidding themselves.”

It comes after the Labor party’s pledge to put $60 million into 20,000 “flexible support packages” for people fleeing violent relationships.

The packages are designed to assist women in leaving relationships. Finances are often a barrier to exiting a violent relationship as accommodation can be limited and access to funds may also be held by a violent partner.

How big is the problem?

Huge.

Violence against women has dominated the national conversation since the murders of Eurydice Dixon, Qi Yu and Aya Masarwe in recent months.

However, while the stories of women attacked outside of their home or by strangers have been blasted around the world, the reality is that far more Australian women die at the hands of someone they know and may have loved.

In fact, 69 women were murdered in Australia last year, and the majority died at the hands of a current or former partner, according to advocacy group Counting Dead Women Australia which tracks and highlights the number of Australian women dying from violence.

“The fact is every year, somewhere between 50 to 70 women are killed by the hands of someone who says they love them,” the co-founder of parent organisation, Destroy the Joint, Jenna Price told SBS last year.

On average, one woman in Australia is murdered by a current or former partner, while one in three Australian women have experienced violence since the age of 15.

And one in six women are have been the victim of physical or sexual violence by a former or current partner. Women with disabilities, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women and younger women are the most likely to experience domestic violence.

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