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Australia’s ongoing national crisis takes more women’s lives each year

November 27, 2018 / Our Watch media team

​More than 60 women have been violently killed by male perpetrators in Australia this year, with the murderer in many cases the victim's current or former partner, or a man otherwise known to her.

Montage of murdered women with 56 small pictures of the women murdered in 2018.

It is a national crisis that requires an urgent response. Experts have called this an emergency for five years.

In 2013, on the UN’s International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women, Natasha Stott Despoja AM appealed to political leaders to take action on the issue of preventing violence against women and their children in an address to the National Press Club.

“I described it as a national emergency back then. Five years on, the number of women who have been killed has increased,” Ms Stott Despoja said.

Ms Stott Despoja is the Chair of Our Watch, the organisation established to drive nation-wide change in the structures, norms and practices that lead to violence against women and children. She was speaking at an annual event hosted by Our Watch and the Parliamentarians Against Family Violence Friendship Group.

Minister for Women Kelly O’Dwyer and Opposition Leader Bill Shorten also spoke at the event.

“We have the evidence about what needs to be done to prevent violence against women. The international research makes it clear: violence against women is more likely to occur where gender inequality is ingrained in social and cultural norms, structures and practices,” Ms Stott Despoja said.

“All sectors of society must do their share to promote respect, fairness and gender equality; this is key to preventing violence against women. It will take generations.”

This year’s event focussed on the role of sport in preventing violence against women.

“Major influencers in our community have a responsibility to help address this issue. Sport has an iconic place in the Australian psyche,” Ms Stott Despoja said.

“Sporting codes can play a huge part. Sportspeople – both men and women – are role models to their fans and to our children. Sporting clubs are places where people gather to play and socialise. Sporting codes are also workplaces that employ thousands of Australians.

“Every one of those settings provides a platform for sport not only to condemn violence, but to model respect, fairness and gender equality.”

“We need to re-imagine our society as one in which respect is standard. Where women and men, girls and boys have equal rights and roles,” she said.

Ms Stott Despoja said Our Watch was working with the government and other agencies on the Fourth Action Plan under the National Action Plan to Prevent Violence Against Women and their Children 2010-2022.

She said that while much has been achieved, a second National Plan that runs beyond 2022 will be crucial in driving the long term generational change that is needed.