Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull has announced increased federal government funding to tackle the issue of partner violence in Australia, and experts say the funds must reach rural and regional communities.

Recent studies have found that regional and rural women are more likely to report having experienced partner violence than women living in metropolitan areas.

Using data sourced from over 7,000 women, aged between 32-40 years, who participated in the Australian Longitudinal Study on Women’s Health, researchers have found that about one in every five women reported having been in a violent relationship with a partner or spouse at some time in their adult life.

The study also showed that partner abuse was linked to women having difficulty managing their income, lower levels of education and having poor levels of social support.

“It is well known that experiencing partner abuse can have serious long-term physical and mental health effects for its victims,” says University of New England researcher Gina Dillon.

“These effects can remain for a long time even after the abuse has ceased, with increased problems related to depression, anxiety and post-traumatic stress disorder.

The study showed interesting differences in the reported rates of partner abuse according to where the women lived.

Approximately 20 per cent of women living in capital cities reported partner abuse of some kind, but that rate went up to 24 per cent of women from regional areas and 26 per cent of women from rural and remote areas.

Emotional abuse was the most common form of abuse reported, with 12.5 per cent of surveyed women have experienced emotional abuse from their partner in the past 12 months.

Physical abuse was reported by 2.5 per cent of surveyed women.

“As residents in non-metropolitan areas it is important for us to be aware that partner violence occurs in our local area, and at alarmingly high rates,” Ms Dillon said.

“There is an increasing awareness of the impact of partner violence on physical and mental health of victims as well as flow on negative effects for families and especially children of those affected.

“There is also a growing public awareness that partner violence is unacceptable. Let’s keep this positive momentum happening and ensure that the issue of adequate funding for partner violence services, especially those in regional and rural areas, remains on the government agenda.”

Anyone experiencing abuse can get help at 1800Respect (1800 737 732) or Lifeline (131 114).