One in five Australians believe a woman is partly responsible for rape if she's drunk, while more than one in five believe that domestic violence can be excused if people get so angry they lose control.
However, the national survey of 17,500 people found that the majority of Australians believed that domestic violence was a criminal offence and could not be excused if the offender was stressed or drunk.
Results of the survey conducted by VicHealth showed that on the whole, Australians’ understanding and attitudes remained stable between 2009 and 2013.
However, there was a deterioration of attitudes in numerous areas of violence towards women, including decreases in the number of people who believed that stalking, fiscal control and forced sex were forms of violence within a relationship.
Less than one in 10 Australians believed that a woman could be raped by someone she is in a sexual relationship with, while 12 per cent believed that domestic violence could be excused if the violent person was abused as a child.
VicHealth chief officer Jerril Rechter said partner violence contributed to eight per cent to the total mental illness burden among Victorian women aged 15 to 44 years.
“VicHealth’s emphasis has always been on primary prevention: stopping this violence from occurring in the first place,” she said.
Senator Larissa Waters labelled the survey results as "shameful".
In a statement, the Greens Senator - whose party initiated the ongoing inquiry into domestic violence - said the results must be acted on.
"It's shocking and revolting that one in five people beleive that if a woman is drunk or drug affected that she is partially responsible if she is raped," she said.
"It's simple - nobody deserves in any way to be raped or attacked. The blame lies with the attackers and the rapists."
'Nobody deserves to be raped or attacked. The blame lies with the attackers and the rapists'
Senator Waters also urged the Abbott Government to increase funding for prevention services.
Chair of the Foundation to Prevent Violence against Women and their Children Natasha Stott Despoja said violence against women had serious impacts on children and the economy.
“This survey tells us that we have been able to challenge a culture that allows violence against women to occur,” Ms Stott Despoja said.
“We know that further change is possible. But the findings are also a stark reminder that vigilance will be required to maintain the momentum of change seeded in the efforts of the women’s movement in the 1970s and kept alive by governments and the community in the decades since.”
The survey also gauged attitudes to gender equality, gender roles and relationships, as “people with weak support for gender equality tend to be more likely to hold violence-supportive attitudes”.
It found that one in four people believed that men made better political leaders and that one in 10 believe that men have more rights to work than women – both an increase on 2009 results.
The survey did find that most Australians acknowledge that women still experienced inequality in the workplace, at 87 per cent.