Tens of thousands of Australian men and women have gathered in cities and towns around the country, rallying against gender-based violence.

The demonstrations have been sparked by a sharp rise in the number of women killed so far this year, with men alleged to have been involved in their deaths.

The number of deaths now stands at 27, after a 35-year-old man was formally charged on Sunday with the murder of a 30-year-old woman in WA.

The figure is almost double when compared to the same period last year.

But the government has so far declined a royal commission into domestic violence, instead doubling down on the national domestic violence plan agreed to in 2022.

Victorian premier Jacinta Allan attended the rally along with ministers Sonya Kilkenny, Vicki Ward and Gabrielle Williams.(ABC News: Leanne Wong)

Victorian Premier Jacinta Allan attended a march through Melbourne’s CBD and thanked the organisers for bringing the community together for the event.

“We need to stop talking about women’s safety and get on and tackle men’s violence, that’s the issue here,” Ms Allan said.

“It’s about men — for some men — their ongoing pattern of violence against women and how women deserve the right to be safe in every space.”

Hundreds of women brought signs to the Melbourne rally and chanted for action.(ABC News)

Perth protesters call for change in language around violence

In Perth, hundreds of people took to the streets to join national calls for an end to gender-based violence, and mourn the loss of the lives of women at the hands of men. 

Clinical psychologists Lee Goddard and Carmel Cairney attended the march and said using more appropriate language to describe the violence was vital in addressing systemic issues. 

“I’ve been at these sort of marches for 50 years … and I’m sick to death of the death and harm from men,” Ms Goddard said. 

The Perth rally calling for an end to violence against women attracted people of all ages.(ABC News: Herlyn Kaur)

“Calling it male violence, or men’s violence, makes it necessary for men to pay attention and take responsibility, whereas both domestic and gender violence minimises it,” Ms Cairney added. 

“We had such high hopes in the 70s when we were protesting and hopeful about the advancement of women rights and some have advanced. But violence against women is worse than ever… shocking. 

“We should be ashamed as a nation.” 

Some protesters at the Perth rally called for a change in the way Australians talked about violence against women.(ABC News: Herlyn Kaur)

Among those who spoke at the rally were Greens Senator Dorinda Cox and prominent social justice advocate Megan Krakouer. 

Labor MP Anne Aly, Assistant Minister to the Prime Minister Patrick Gorman and Independent Member for Curtin Kate Chaney were seen in the crowd standing in solidarity with protesters. 

Brisbane men and women take to the streets

Chants of “we won’t take it anymore” and “no more violence, no more hate” rang through Brisbane’s CBD as thousands marched through the streets on Sunday.

Lesley Synge told the ABC she was marching as a victim of sexual assault and domestic violence herself and stood with all attendees in what she described as a “real show of strength”.

“I am really grateful that there are lots of men here as well, it just shows that so many men actually do care,” she said.

Marie Lynagh and Anne Price were among thousands gathered for a rally at Brisbane’s King George Square on Sunday.(ABC News: Laura Lavelle)

Abdul Khan said he was marching because “it’s a men’s issue, not a women’s issue”.

“As a man I think it is really important to show that violence to women is not a women’s issue, it is an issue with men,” he said.

“It is up to us to solve it, and it is not up to women to ask not to be killed.”

Abdul Khan (right) says he attended the Brisbane rally because domestic violence is an issue with men.(ABC News: Laura Lavelle)

Another attendee, Shay, said she was marching for the women who had lost their lives this year and could not “express how angry” she was.

She said her message was clear: “Stop killing women, pretty straight forward.”

Queensland Premier Steven Miles said he would welcome Prime Minister Anthony Albanese bringing together national cabinet to find a solution to domestic and family violence.

“What we know from what we have seen around the country just in the last week is that too many Australian women are dying at the hands of their partners,” Mr Miles said.

“That is an Australian scourge, a national scourge, and it’s appropriate that we seek to address it nationally.”

Rachel Cook attended the rally in Brisbane on Sunday.(ABC News: Laura Lavelle)

In March, Queensland parliament passed historic legislation to criminalise coercive control, with the laws to come into effect next year.

Mr Miles said the state and territories would continue to play their part.

“We want to keep Australian women and children safe and anything we can do is appropriate,” he said.

“It is a national problem that deserves a national solution.”

Calls for systemic change at Bendigo women’s rally

In Bendigo, hundreds of men and women gathered at a Rosalind Park in the city centre to protest. 

Centre Against Sexual Assault Central Victoria chief executive Kate Wright said she wanted to see real action from politicians following the rallies.

“What we don’t want is more talk, because we know what we need to do,” Ms Wright said.

“We need to see systemic change … where we see intervention orders actually being held up, we don’t want to see breaches being treated as minor.”

Families gathered at Bendigo’s Rosalind Park to show solidarity for women affected by violence.(ABC News: Shannon Schubert)

Ms Wright said her organisation had been overwhelmed by demand for its services in recent years.

“We worked with over 1,300 people last year providing over 16,000 hours of counselling and support,” she said.

“We have a wait list for our service, our funding model has not changed since the 1980s.”

Centre for Non-Violence CEO Margaret Augerinos said police in Central Victoria responded to 4,500 incidents of domestic and family violence last year.

“It’s a crisis. We know that this is preventable,” Ms Augerinos said.

“There are too many people needing assistance and we can’t support them. Too many victim survivors have been let down by police and court responses.”

Speakers at the rally called for structural reform to better protect women from abuse and violence.(ABC News: Shannon Schubert)

Ms Augerinos called for more accountability, law reform and national action.

“These men are not monsters. These men are here. They live with us, work with us, play with us,” she said.

Rally on Gold Coast attended by families of victims

On the Gold Coast, women’s and children’s shoes sat on the grass as people gathered to serve as a visual reminder of the victims of domestic and family violence.

“It is a visual representation of some of the people, women and children, that have been killed as a result of domestic and family violence,” organiser Melissa Venville said.

“It is a reminder that it is not just a number, not just a statistic, but behind each number represents somebody that is no longer here.”

Memorials were set up in the park for victims of violence.(ABC News: Nicholas McElroy)

Darren O’Brien — whose sister Teresa Bradford was killed by her estranged husband in 2017 — spoke at the rally.

He said all men needed to stand up to prevent domestic violence.

“Of course every man needs to stand up to protect their sisters, their mothers, their aunties, their friends. You know, you can’t turn a blind eye anymore,” Mr O’Brien said.

Hundreds attended a Gold Coast rally, including family members of women killed by domestic violence.(ABC News: Nicholas McElroy)

Victorian town in mourning following death of local woman

In the Victorian town of Cobram, where 49-year-old Emma Bates was recently found dead in her home, hundreds gathered at a rally. 

Rally organiser and Cobram resident Ash said both culture and language needed to change when talking about gender-based violence.

She said men are often defended while women are vilified and questioned at times for their behaviour.

Men were encouraged to join the nationwide rallies and Ash called on more to make a stance against violence.

“It is not fair to be asking women how we can reduce violence because it is not our responsibility … we have been fighting this for far too long,” she said.

“I am tired, I am angry and I’m not doing it anymore. We need men to do it.

“We don’t need you to just call it out… we need you to offer support as well.”

Cobram residents protested, just days after a woman was found dead in her home in the Victorian town.(ABC News: Callum Marshall)

A microphone was handed around the crowd in Cobram, with people in attendance sharing their own experiences with domestic violence and abuse. 

“No one is more afraid than a woman who is abused and then met by silence or blame by everyone around her,” said Nicole, who attended the rally in Cobram.

Posted , updated