Violence against women in Australia 'a national crisis'

A recent spate of violent deaths has Australian politicians calling for better support for women and a national approach to tackling the scourge.

About 50 women have been killed in the country this year, five of them in the past 11 days.

The deaths spanned the nation, with women found dead in Perth, Bendigo, Canberra, Sydney, the Hunter region and Aldinga beach in South Australia.

One of the most high-profile deaths was that of 21-year-old high school water polo coach Lilie James, whose body was found with horrific head injuries in the gymnasium toilets at a Sydney private school last Thursday.

Paul Thijssen, a 24-year-old sports coach at the same school, was wanted for questioning and had reportedly been in a relationship with her during the weeks leading up to her death.

Acting Opposition Leader Sussan Ley said things needed to change.

"This is a national crisis and we are not talking about it enough," she said yesterday.

"We must move past despair and anger and take greater action, because the violence has not slowed and the killings have not stopped."

Exact figures on the number of women killed by violence can be hard to pinpoint due to the nature of ongoing investigations and the pace at which these statistics can grow.

But research shows family, domestic and sexual violence remains persistent.

The Australian Bureau of Statistics found one-in-six women, since the age of 15, had experienced physical or sexual violence by a current or previous co-habiting partner.

A survey on national community attitudes found there was an improvement in understanding of violence against women.

However, 25 percent of respondents believed women who do not leave their abusive partners are partly responsible for the violence continuing, and 34 percent agreed it was common for sexual assault accusations to be used as a way of getting back at men.

In a joint statement Liberal MP Bridget Archer, Labor MP Alicia Payne and Greens spokeswomen on women Larissa Waters urged governments to tackle the root causes of violence, and transform harmful social norms that can lead to femicide.

They also called for more funding for frontline services that provide help to women escaping violence.

"Governments at all levels must continue to prioritise this issue with funding and leadership, and each of us must drive the cultural change we need to end the epidemic of violence against women in our communities," they wrote on Wednesday.

Sexual consent activist Chanel Contos said news outlets were one of the most powerful tools for shaping attitudes towards women.

"We also need to stop with the click-baity headlines that is basically trauma bait from someone's travesty," she told the National Press Club.

"But also we can't forget Lilie James was a white woman ... and the media very much elevates certain voices and certain experiences.

"How many women have been killed this year - 56? Where is the coverage for that?"

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