Facts about women’s safety

This page provides facts relating to Women's safety issues in Australia.

Personal Safety Survey

The most recent information on violence in Australia comes for the Australian Bureau of Statistics Personal Safety Survey 2005.  This built on a 1996 Women’s Safety Survey. In the 2005 Personal Safety Survey, it was reported that:

  • an estimated 443,800 Australian women (5.8 per cent of the population) had experienced physical or sexual violence in the past 12 months.
  • more than a million women had experienced physical or sexual assault by their male current or ex-partner since the age of 15 (some women may be counted twice if they experienced both physical and sexual assault).
  • 37.8 per cent of women who experienced physical assault by a male in the 12 months before the survey said the perpetrator was a current or previous partner, and 34.4 per cent said the perpetrator was a family member or friend.
  • most incidences of physical assault against women by a male perpetrator in the 12 months prior to the 2005 survey were committed in a home (64.1 per cent).
  • 33.3 per cent of women had experienced physical violence since the age of 15.
  • 19.1 per cent of women had experienced sexual violence since the age of 15.
  • 12 per cent of women had been sexually abused before the age of 15, compared with 4.5 per cent of men.
  • Between 1996 and 2005 there was an increase in the reporting of physical assault to police from 18.5 per cent to 36 per cent.
  • 64 per cent of women who experienced physical assault by a male perpetrator; and 81.1 per cent of women who experienced sexual assault by a male perpetrator; did not report this assault to the police.
  • the percentage of women who reported that their children had witnessed partner related violence either from a current or ex-partner was lower in 2005 than in 1996.
  • Women are much more likely to be victims of sexual violence with an estimated 126,100 women (1.6 per cent) in the 12 months prior to the survey compared with 46,700 (0.6 per cent) of men.
     

Per cent of females experiencing violence during the last 12 months Per cent of females experiencing violence during the last 12 months Type of violence in most recent incident by age, 2005

  1. (a) Data shown for sexual violence in 45 – 54 category includes violence experienced by women aged 55+
  2. (b) Components may not add to total as a person may have experienced both physical and sexual violence

Source:Australian Bureau of Statistics Personal Safety Survey 2005 (Reissue), Table 6, p. 20

 

 

Cost of domestic violence

A KPMG report commissioned by the Australian Government found that:

  • violence against women and their children was estimated to cost the Australian economy around $13.6 billion in 2009 with the largest contributor being pain, suffering and premature mortality. 
  • without appropriate action, the total cost of violence against women and their children in 2021-22 was estimated to be $15.6 billion.

Homicides

The National Homicide Monitoring Program reported that in 2006-07 there were:

  • 266 victims of homicide including 65 intimate partner homicides.
  • female victims were most likely to be killed as a result of a domestic altercation.
  • three-quarters of all women victims were killed by an intimate partner or family member.
  • fourty-three per cent of homicides between intimate partners had a prior domestic violence history with the police prior to the homicide incident.

Indigenous women

The Overcoming Indigenous Disadvantage – Key Indicators 2009 Report (OID 2009) states that in 2006-07:

  • Indigenous females sought help from the Supported Accommodation Assistance Program (SAAP) to escape family violence at a rate of 45 per 1000 compared to 3.3 per 1000 population for non-Indigenous females (ie Indigenous women were 13.6 times more likely to seek SAAP assistance than non-Indigenous females).
  • Indigenous women in Australia were 35.1 times as likely to be hospitalised as a result of family violence related assaults as non-Indigenous females.
  • for Indigenous females approximately half of the hospitalisations for assault were related to family violence.
  • hospitalisation rates for family violence related assault were highest among Indigenous females aged 25-34 years (15.9 per 1,000).
  • domestic altercation was the most common motive (45.2 per cent) identified in Indigenous homicides.

Programs and payments

  • The Government provides funding for projects aimed at young people developing respectful relationships.  This funding includes $9.1 million on respectful relationships education, and $17 million on a social marketing campaign aimed at encouraging young people to develop healthy, respectful relationships.
  • The $1.2 billion Family Support Program supports vulnerable and disadvantaged families, and separated and separating families and their children.  This includes early intervention and prevention services and support for at-risk families and children, including victims of violence.
  • Domestic Violence and relationship breakdown was the most common reason cited for accessing Specialist Homelessness Services in 2008-09.  The Australian Government is spending $4.9 billion to address homelessness and housing, with an additional $400 million from the states and territories.
  • In 2010-2011 the Government increased funding of $154 million over four years for legal assistance services, including $7.2 million over four years for women’s legal services and Indigenous women’s legal projects to provide support and advice to victims of family violence across Australia.  This contribution takes the Government’s total contribution to over $1.2 billion for legal assistance services.
  • The Family Violence Prevention Legal Services provides legal advice, assistance and related services to Indigenous victims of family violence in 31 rural, regional and remote locations across Australia.
  • More than 13,000 women who were victims of domestic violence received Crisis Payments from the Government in 2009, which is equivalent to one week’s payment of pension, allowance or benefit.

Office for Women

The Office for Women advises the Government on issues and policies affecting women in Australia.  Through a range of programs and activities, the Office for Women provides a voice for Australian women in three key areas: women’s economic security, women’s equal place in society, and reducing violence against women.

Content Updated: 8 June 2012