New report details violence against vulnerable

By Shannon Jenkins

Wednesday June 5, 2019

Source: Getty Images

People with disability are nearly twice as likely to experience partner violence than those without disability, according to a new report released by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW).

The report gives insight into the prevalence and impact of family, domestic and sexual violence against vulnerable population groups.

Its release comes in the wake of increased awareness of violence against women in Australia, and follows recent reports that some young Australians do not fully understand sexual consent.

AIHW spokesperson Louise York said violence can take many forms, including physical and sexual violence, emotional abuse, or manipulation.

“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,” she said.

The report builds on a 2018 study on family, domestic and sexual violence. According to York, it aims to fill known data 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,” York said.

Family, domestic and sexual violence predominantly affects women and children, the report found.

Children often exposed to violence

One in six women and one in nine men experienced physical or sexual abuse before the age of 15, according to the data.

More than 3000 family violence-related sexual assaults against children under 15 years of age were recorded by police in 2017, while more than 41,000 children with experience of family violence accessed specialist homelessness services in 2017–18.

Between 2000–01 and 2011–12, police recorded 284 victims of filicide — the act of killing a child by a parent or guardian.

Women at risk

On average, one woman was killed every nine days and one man was killed every 29 days by a partner in the period between July 2014 and June 2016.

Police recorded 25,000 victims of sexual assault in 2017. That’s 8% more than the previous year, and the highest number recorded since the data series began in 2010, according to York.

More than half of the female sexual assault victims that year were aged 15-34.

The rate of women hospitalised due to assault by a spouse or partner has risen by 23%, and women were more likely to experience violence from a known person in their home than men.

More people turning to services 

Despite a decline in violence since 2005, rates of partner violence and sexual violence have remained stable. However, the rate of people accessing services due to family, domestic and sexual violence is on the rise, including police, hospital, child protection and homeless services. 

The rate of people with experience of family violence seeking assistance has increased by 32% for women and 40% for men.

People with disability, the elderly, Indigenous Australians and LGBTQI+ also at risk 

People with disability are more likely to experience sexual violence and sexual harassment, and are more at risk of physical and emotional abuse from a partner, than those without disability.

In 2017-18, more than 10,900 calls were made to elder abuse hotlines, mainly due to financial or emotional abuse.

Meanwhile, the report found that Indigenous people were 32 times more likely to be hospitalised due to family violence than non-Indigenous people.

Those with gender and sexual diversities were more likely to experience workplace sexual harassment than other Australians.

AIHW fill important data gaps

AIHW recognises that data can often “appear to depersonalise some of the pain and suffering that sits behind the statistics”.

“It is our endeavour that, by bringing together various data sources, we can strengthen the evidence base to build a more coherent picture of family, domestic and sexual violence in Australia,” AIHW said.

“Incidents frequently occur behind closed doors and are often concealed by, and denied by, their perpetrators and sometimes by their victims.

“This information will help to inform government policies and plans and also assist in the planning and delivery of violence prevention and intervention programs.

“We would like to acknowledge the serious impact and huge burden that family, domestic and sexual violence can have on communities, especially women and children.

“It can inflict physical injury, psychological trauma and emotional suffering. These effects can last a lifetime and can affect future generations.”

If you or someone you know needs help, contact these services:

1800RESPECT (1800 737 732,

Lifeline (13 11 14,

Kids Helpline (1800 551 800,

No to Violence (1300 766 491,


About the author
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
The Mandarin Premium

Insights & analysis that matter to you

Subscribe for only $5 a week


Get Premium Today