Over a 10-year period (2002–2012) in Australia, 488 women were killed by an intimate partner or ex-partner. These homicides are the extreme end of a continuum of violence against women and children in families. Domestic and family violence (hereafter referred to as family violence) has become the focus of increasing communityconcern in Australia over recent years. There is a growing awareness of the scale, impact and costs associated with family violence.
Research and death reviews in Australia and internationally over the last two decades have highlighted that systemic failures in legal responses to family violence contribute to these deaths. Intimate partner homicides, whether perpetrated by men or women, generally occur in the context of men’s violence against the woman in the relationship.
Following a review by the Victorian Law Reform Commission, changes to homicide laws were enacted in Victoria in 2005. The reforms sought to reduce excuses for men’s violence against women and to better accommodate the experiences of primary victims who kill violent family members . Further reforms were made in 2014.
In 2010, Domestic Violence Resource Centre Victoria and Monash University
identified a shared interest in reviewing intimate partner homicides to examine whether the spirit of the reforms was being realised.
The first stage of the project examined cases of women who killed their intimate partners with a focus on whether, and to what extent, the reforms had improved the recognition of family violence and legal understandings of the circumstances in which women kill
in response to violence. The second stage of the project explores legal responses to men who have killed in the context of sexual intimacy since the implementation of the reforms in 2005.
This report outlines the findings of this second stage of the research.