New report sheds light on groups vulnerable to family, domestic and sexual violence


One in 6 women and 1 in 9 men experienced physical or sexual abuse before the age of 15, according to a new report released by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW).

The report, Family, domestic and sexual violence in Australia, 2019, presents new data on children and other specific vulnerable population groups, while also providing new analysis on the risks, prevalence, support services and outcomes of family, domestic and sexual violence.

It builds on the AIHW’s first comprehensive report on family, domestic and sexual violence, which was released in 2018.

‘Family, domestic and sexual violence can take many forms, including physical and sexual violence, emotional abuse, or attempts to control another person’s behaviour, said AIHW spokesperson Ms Louise York.

‘The impacts of family, domestic and sexual violence on children and adolescents can be long-lasting, affecting their health, wellbeing, education, relationships and housing outcomes.

‘Over 41,000 children with experience of family violence accessed specialist homelessness services in 2017–18.

‘Police recorded 3,100 family violence-related sexual assaults against children aged under 15 years, in 2017.’

‘Police recorded 284 victims of filicide (killing of a child by a parent or parent equivalent) between 2000–01 and 2011–12,’ Ms York said.

The report shows that people with disability are more likely to experience physical violence and emotional abuse from a partner and more likely to experience sexual violence and sexual harassment, compared with people without disability.

About 2.5% of women with disability had experienced partner violence in the previous 12 months, compared with just over 1.3% of women without disability.

The report shows that, based on national population surveys and set against a back drop of declines in overall violence, rates of partner violence and sexual violence have remained relatively stable since 2005. However, the number of people accessing services due to family, domestic and sexual violence continues to rise: such as police, hospital, child protection and homelessness services.

‘There were 25,000 victims of sexual assault recorded by police in 2017—8% more than the 23,000 victims in 2016—the highest number of victims since the data series began in 2010,’ Ms York said.

‘Between 2014–15 and 2016–17, the rate of hospitalisation of women assaulted by a spouse or partner has risen by 23%, from 31 to 38 hospitalisations per 100,000 population.’

In 2017–18, 121,000 clients assisted by specialist homelessness services had experienced family or domestic violence, up from 115,000 clients in 2016–17. Since 2013–14, the rate of people with experience of family violence seeking assistance has increased by 32% for women and 40% for men.

This second comprehensive report continues to build the evidence base on family domestic and sexual violence in Australia, and details the work that has been done to fill known information gaps.

‘It brings together information from a range of sources to help us better understand who is most vulnerable to these forms of violence, noting it can be difficult to obtain large representative samples of those in some vulnerable populations,’  Ms York said.


Children: 1 in 6 women and 1 in 9 men experience physical or sexual abuse before the age of 15.

Young women:  53% of police-recorded female sexual assault victims in 2017 were aged 15–34.

Elder abuse: More than 10,900 calls were made to elder abuse hotlines across Australia in 2017–18. The calls were more commonly related to financial or emotional abuse.

People with disability: People with disability were 1.8 times as likely to experience partner violence as those without disability in the previous 12 months.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders: Indigenous people were 32 times more likely to be hospitalised for family violence as non-Indigenous people.

LQBTIQ+ people: People with diverse sexual orientations and gender diversities are more likely to experience workplace sexual harassment—52%, compared to 30% of other Australians.

Rural and Remote Australia: 23% of women living outside major cities experienced violence from a partner, compared to 15% of women in major cities.

Domestic homicide: On average, 1 woman was killed every 9 days and 1 man was killed every 29 days by a partner in the period between July 2014 and June 2016.

Sexual assault: Police recorded 25,000 sexual assault victims in 2017—the highest numbers since this information was first collected (8% more than in 2016).

Stalking: 1 in 6 women and 1 in 15 men have experienced stalking.

Sexual harassment: 1 in 2 woman and around 1 in 4 men have experienced sexual harassment.

Trends: According to survey data, rates of partner violence and sexual violence have remained stable since 2005, despite total violence from any person declining significantly over the same period.

If the information presented raises any issues for you, these services can help:

1800RESPECT (1800 737 732,
Lifeline (13 11 14,
Kids Helpline (1800 551 800,
No to Violence (1300 766 491,


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