Fears domestic violence toll is much higher than thought

THE number of women dying as a result of domestic violence is much higher than statistics show.

Frontline experts believe the deaths of six women a month - not four - can be attributed to abuse at the hands of family members.

Di Mangan, who runs one of Australia's busiest 24-hour DV support services, says not all abuse-related deaths are on the record.

"They are saying 'Every week one woman dies' but we know six women (a month) are dying at the hands of their current or former partner," the DVConnect CEO said yesterday.

"The sector around Australia says it is six women a month."

Ms Mangan, who has been a domestic violence worker for 40 years, said many of the uncounted were taking their own lives.

"There are deaths related to suicide and as a result of domestic violence but the two are not being linked.

"Workers in the sector know when those deaths happen."

Centre for Domestic and Family Violence Research director Annabel Taylor said Australia needed to find ways to collate more accurate DV death data.

"There's a need to continually invest in research and the data gathering around this phenomenon so that we really understand what exactly is going on out there," Associate Professor Taylor said.

"There are some models internationally that do this very well, particularly when police data is triangulated with health data."

Queensland's new Domestic and Family Violence Death Review Board will help officials try to get a more accurate tally.

The board will be linked to the coroner's office and will have forensic medicine, policing and domestic violence experts.

Last year 79 women died violently and workers say 80% of those related to DV.

For support phone DVConnect 1800 811 811; the NSW Domestic Violence Line 1800 656 463 or the national hotline 1800 737 732.