Nine women murdered already in 2024: Real solutions needed to stop gendered violence

February 18, 2024
Image: Aneesa Bhamjee/Green Left

Advocates and support services continue to demand urgent action and early intervention to stop the high rates of domestic and gender-based violence against women.

Data from the activists at Destroy the Joint show that a staggering 64 women were killed last year — an average of more than one woman a week.

As of February 16, nine women had lost their lives as a result of gender-based violence this year.

To add to the horror, the National Homicide Monitoring Program reported that 50% of adult female victims of homicide were killed by a current or former intimate partner.

Despite pleas from leading women’s organisations and advocates, concrete measures to address this continuing epidemic remain woefully inadequate.

Many victim-survivors lack the finances to leave violent homes.

The NSW Council of Social Service estimated in October that 4812 women were being forced to stay in a violent homes, 2402 women were forced to return to a violent partner (because they had nowhere else to go) and 2410 were homeless because they could not find secure housing after leaving violence.

Shamefully, more than half of those trying to access the federal government’s outsourced escaping violence payment (EVP) are unable to do so. Data from January shows more than half trying to access EVP have had their claims rejected.

The EVP was introduced in 2021 for victim-survivors to access up to $1500 in cash and up to $3500 in goods and services (removalists) to help them leave a violent home.

The payment system has been outsourced to the private Christian sector — Uniting — and the Senate has discovered it does not keep data on why applications are denied.

According to The Guardian on January 16, many applicants face difficulty meeting the eligibility criteria because they cannot produce a police or doctor’s report.

The Council of Single Mothers and their Children (CSMC) asked on January 15: “What’s the point in introducing a family violence payment only to make it impossibly difficult to get?”

It said that between July and September last year, 57,041 applications were made for the EVP, but only 29,437 were deemed eligible.

“The need for women and children to leave family violence situations quickly has never been clearer,” it said, asking how much the government is paying Uniting for this “imperfect service”.

“The EVP is also explicitly limiting”, the CSMC said. “It cannot be accessed by people experiencing other forms of family violence, such as elder abuse, visa holders and people who have left a violent relationship more than 12 weeks ago.”

It has demanded that social services minister Amanda Rishworth take action, rather than punitively monitor payments.

Gender-based violence rates among First Nations, migrant and refugee communities is higher than the average, with economic disadvantage, drug and alcohol abuse and social exclusion major contextual factors.

Feminist organisations and activists stress that gender-based violence against women of all ages and cultural backgrounds is rooted in, and perpetuated by, the same thing: patriarchal attitudes that minimise violence towards women and the systemic power imbalance which excuses disrespect and shifts blame on victim-survivors.

An illustration of just how all-pervasive these beliefs are can be seen in VicHealth’s National Community Attitudes Surveys (NCAS).

In 2013, NCAS found 1 in 5 young people agreed that there are “times when women bear some responsibility for sexual assault”.

Last year, 23% of NCAS participants agreed that much of what is described as domestic violence is a “normal reaction to day-to-day stress and frustration”.

The independent organisation Our Watch cites “primary prevention” is stopping violence before it happens, as being most important in preventing gender-based violence.

NCAS agrees, saying in 2018: “There is evidence that violence against women can be prevented before it occurs by addressing the underlying factors that cause the problem [italics added].”

The promotion of gender equality, through community-based projects and resources, is having an impact. Australia’s National Research Organisation for Women’s Safety (ANROWS) survey, published last December, shows violence against women is increasingly being rejected by young people aged 16 to 24 years old.

However, researchers Anastasia Powell, Jacqui True, Kristin Diemer and Kyllie Cripps hint in their piece in The Conversation in December that material disadvantage is a factor in the higher rates of violence since 2005–06 in Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander communities.

While it is good the Queensland Department of Education offers a “Respectful Relationships Education Program”, to minimise harmful attitudes through health and wellbeing training, practical steps to eliminate disadvantage is an important part of eradicating gender-based violence.

Domestic Violence NSW, an independent non-government peak body, is pushing for secure and affordable housing for victim-survivors leaving violent relationships. It said accessible financial support for victim-survivors and new laws dedicated to addressing the root causes of domestic violence and coercive control are needed.

You need Green Left, and we need you!

Green Left is funded by contributions from readers and supporters. Help us reach our funding target.

Make a One-off Donation or choose from one of our Monthly Donation options.

Become a supporter to get the digital edition for $5 per month or the print edition for $10 per month. One-time payment options are available.

You can also call 1800 634 206 to make a donation or to become a supporter. Thank you.