Family, domestic and sexual violence is a major national health and welfare issue that can have lifelong impacts for victims and perpetrators. It can take many forms, including physical violence, emotional abuse, or attempts to control another person’s behaviour. It affects people of all ages and from all backgrounds, but predominantly affects women and children.

The 2016 Personal Safety Survey estimated that since the age of 15:

  • 1 in 6 women and 1 in 16 men have experienced physical and/or sexual violence by a current or previous cohabiting partner
  • 1 in 4 women and 1 in 6 men have experienced emotional abuse by a current or previous cohabiting partner
  • 1 in 5 women and 1 in 20 men have experienced sexual violence (ABS 2017).

The impacts of family, domestic and sexual violence

The impacts of family, domestic and sexual violence can be serious and long-lasting, affecting an individual’s health, wellbeing, education, relationships and housing outcomes. In 2016–17, almost 1 in 3 (8,500) of the 21,400 hospitalisations for assault injuries were a result of family and domestic violence (AIHW National Hospital Morbidity Database). In 2017–18, 42% (121,000) of clients assisted by specialist homelessness services had experienced family or domestic violence (AIHW 2018). Between July 2014 and June 2016, on average, 1 woman was killed every 9 days and 1 man was killed every 29 days by a partner (AIC unpublished data).

What do we know?

Understanding the prevalence and extent of victims’ experiences of violence relies on data collected through surveys, or data collected for administrative purposes (such as police, health or specialised services data).

There are notable information gaps on various aspects of family, domestic and sexual violence. The AIHW is working with data providers to improve the identification and collection of family, domestic and sexual violence in a range of data collections for which it is the national data custodian. These include the National Non-Admitted Patient Emergency Department Care National Minimum Dataset, the Specialist Homelessness Services Collection, National Perinatal Data Collection, and the Child Protection National Minimum Data Set.

The AIHW is also working with stakeholders to help fill key data gaps, including reporting on national outcome standards for perpetrator interventions, and improving the capture, collation and reporting of data about family, domestic and sexual violence services.


  1. ABS (Australian Bureau of Statistics) 2017. Personal Safety Survey 2012. ABS cat no. 4906.0. Canberra: ABS.

  2. AIHW (Australian Institute of Health and Welfare) 2018. Specialist Homelessness Services annual report 2017–18. Canberra: AIHW.

  3. AIC (Australian Institute of Criminology) unpublished. National Homicide Monitoring Program 2014–15 to 2015–16. Canberra: AIC.

  4. AIHW unpublished. National Hospital Morbidity Database 2016–17. Canberra: AIHW.