Auburn is the murder capital of Sydney and more than half of the homicides committed in this suburb last year related to domestic violence.
Auburn lies within the Parramatta region, which had the highest number of murders in the state in 2014, according to figures from the Bureau of Crime Statistics and Research.
The 11 murders recorded in the region included the seven people killed in Auburn, two people in Parramatta and another two in Holroyd.
Domestic violence was related to 57 per cent of the murders in Auburn.
NSW Police Assistant commissioner Mark Murdoch said this figure was “certainly above the norm”.
Mr Murdoch said while the number of homicides had fallen over the past five to six years, domestic violence statistics painted a different picture.
“It’s bucking the trend, to the point where across the state about 40 per cent of all homicides are domestic violence related,” he said.
Mr Murdoch said proactive policing and legislation relating to firearms and knives was contributing to an overall fall in the number of homicides, but it was hard to control what went on in the home.
“Domestic violence happens behind closed doors and there’s always a range of weapons available in the home, knives and blunt objects, not to mention physical violence,” he said.
“One woman is killed at the hands of a former or current partner in Australia each week.
“When you look at what’s happened in NSW so far this year, on average two women per week have been killed in domestic situations.”
Mr Murdoch said there was no research on why suburbs such as Auburn had higher numbers of domestic related homicides, but it was “dramatically under reported” in areas where English was a second language.
“In our multicultural communities there’s a distinctive under reporting of domestic violence, that may well partly be for cultural reasons,” he said.
“In many of the communities and countries that people living in south western Sydney come from there’s a lack of trust in the police and courts and justice system,” he said.
A lack of knowledge about the protections available for people suffering from domestic violence can also make it hard for people to reach out, Mr Murdoch said.
He said the whole community needed to step up if there was an issue.
“There’s a lot of work for us to do as a community, not just as a police force,” he said.
“We are the people victims come to as a last resort.”
Mr Murdoch said that when a victim of domestic violence approached police for the first time, she had on average already been abused up to 32 times.
“Unless people tell us we don’t know what’s happening, and it’s not just about the victim engaging early.
“It’s about family members who may suspect that their loved ones are victims of domestic violence it’s about neighbours, it’s about friends coming forward … you may be saving their lives.”
Barnardos Auburn Children’s Family Centre manager Mary Haiek works with many families facing homelessness.
“What we are seeing is an increase in the number of people who are coming to us homeless where domestic violence has been experienced,” she said.
“Mostly they’re trying to flee, many of them are not thinking in terms of prosecuting and getting to court, they just want to be safe.”
Ms Haiek said in small communities, victims of domestic violence were often worried that people might easily discover where they had moved.
But she said the issue cut across all cultures, areas and socio-economic groups.
(This article was first published in the Daily Telegraph and was written by Cathy Morris.)