Research conducted by the Australian Institute of Criminology revealed that 80% percent of slain Victorians are four times most likely to be killed by domestic violence or by an acquaintance than by any other causes. The research also showed that the most common weapons used were knives and sharp objects. Most offenders in domestic homicides were men who killed their female partners.
Crime Institute Research Analyst Matthew Lyneham reported that three-fourths of the women were killed by their male partners with a knife. He explains, 'It just comes down to availability, and there are plenty of knives available in homes across Australia.'
Data from years 2008 – 2010 showed that 39 or 34 percent of the recorded homicides in Victoria resulted from domestic violence. Nationally, of the 185 people killed because of domestic violence, 122 or 66% were committed by a lover.
The state government funding for the Victorian Systemic Review of Family Violence Deaths was cut in 2010. The alarming news fuelled calls to reinstate the funding for the research program which aims to investigate causes of domestic violence deaths. The findings are useful evidence for coroners to be able to make recommendations in preventing or reducing domestic violence. Because the funding was stopped, the Coroner’s Court has included the funding for the program in its own budget.
The findings of the research are disturbing. Despite the efforts of the government in curbing domestic violence, deaths are still occurring because of it. In New South Wales, the governing law is Crimes (Domestic and Personal Violence) Act 2007 while in Victoria it is Family Violence Protection Act 2008.
The domestic violence law for each state may be different, but there are some common principles such as what constitutes domestic violence. For example, in all Australian jurisdictions, domestic violence encompasses assault/personal injury, including sexual assault, and intentional damage to the victim’s property and related behaviour. Also common are the grounds on which the court will issue domestic violence protection orders that relate to the commission or potential commission of an act of violence against a person with whom the aggressor has a relevant type of relationship.