Murder of Indigenous women a national crisis: PM

Andrew Brown and Dominic Giannini |

Almost 90 per cent of Australian victims of intimate partner homicides are women.
Almost 90 per cent of Australian victims of intimate partner homicides are women.

Gendered violence is a national crisis and the disproportionate murder of Indigenous women is particularly alarming, the prime minister says.

As Anthony Albanese prepares to discuss the topic with state and territory leaders on Wednesday, the latest Homicide in Australia report showed a rise in the number of women murdered by current or former partners.

The number of women killed by intimate partners rose by 28 per cent in the 2022/23 financial year with 89 per cent of all intimate partner homicide victims being women, according to the Australian Institute of Criminology report.

Mr Albanese said previous statistics from the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare also painted an alarming picture of the murder rate for Indigenous women.

“This is a national crisis, and for Indigenous women, they’re 7.6 times more likely to die from homicide, to be killed, than non-Indigenous women,” he told ABC Radio on Tuesday.

PM Anthony Albanese at rally to end violence against women
Anthony Albanese says national cabinet will focus on solutions to prevent violence against women. (Lukas Coch/AAP PHOTOS)

“(Preventing violence against women) requires a whole of government and whole of society, including the media and others, to be engaged.”

Updated figures from the Homicides in Australia report showed the homicide rate for Indigenous women was 3.07 per 100,000 people, compared to 0.45 for non-Indigenous women.

While the prime minister said national cabinet discussions will focus on solutions to prevent violence against women, a federal royal commission would not be part of it.

“There’s been a royal commission in Victoria, there’s a royal commission underway in South Australia, NSW is giving consideration of a royal commission,” he said.

“You don’t want multiple inquiries into the same thing across different jurisdictions.”

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.

A rally to a call for action to end violence against women
The recent spate of murders of women has ignited a groundswell of support for preventative action. (Darren England/AAP PHOTOS)

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

The peak body for community legal services has urged governments to boost funding for frontline services to help keep women fleeing from violence safe.

Deputy chair of Community Legal Centres Australia Arlia Fleming said the ability to deliver adequate support to survivors was being put at risk.

“We already have a consistent three-week waiting list. Without access to our services, victim-survivors may be forced to remain in unsafe environments,” she said.

“Without early intervention and support, the long-term social and economic cost of domestic and family violence will continue to escalate.”

Early Childhood Minister Anne Aly, who is a domestic violence survivor, says the statistics remain alarming.

There have been calls to classify violence against women as a form of terrorism and Dr Aly says the comparison is apt.

Early Childhood Education Minister Anne Aly
Anne Aly says domestic violence is terrifying. (Mick Tsikas/AAP PHOTOS)

“For the women who are in that situation it is terrifying, and it is terror, and I’ve heard stories of women who have had to move from place,” she told ABC Radio on Tuesday.

“For the women who are being terrorised, it is very much violence, terrorism, control.”

The institute’s report also found nearly half 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.

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AAP