Family, domestic and sexual violence report shows prevalence across demographics in Australia

University of Newcastle Associate Professor Deb Loxton, who is also the deputy director of the Australian Longitudinal Study on Women’s Health and the co-director of the University’s Priority Research Centre for Generational Health and Ageing, praised the report that showed the impact and occurrence of violence in the community.
University of Newcastle Associate Professor Deb Loxton, who is also the deputy director of the Australian Longitudinal Study on Women’s Health and the co-director of the University’s Priority Research Centre for Generational Health and Ageing, praised the report that showed the impact and occurrence of violence in the community.

THE effects of abuse can last a lifetime, but a new report showing the occurrence and impact of violence could help trigger change, a Newcastle academic says.

The Australian Institute of Health and Welfare report, Family, domestic and sexual violence in Australia, 2018, has found that on average, one woman a week and one man a month is killed by a current or former partner.

It found women were more likely to experience violence from a known person in their home, while men were more likely to face it from strangers in a public place.

The report, released on Wednesday, pooled information from 20 major data sources to paint a picture of what is known about family, domestic and sexual violence in Australia.

University of Newcastle associate professor Deb Loxton contributed to the report via data from the Australian Longitudinal Study on Women’s Health.

“The statistics are very upsetting,” she said. “This sort of information can guide the delivery of practice, and policies to prevent violence, to help women, and men and children, to recover from violence that has occurred in the short and long term.”

The report found one-in-six girls, and one-in-nine boys, had been physically or sexually assaulted, while one-in-six Australian women, and one-in-16 men, had been subjected – since the age of 15 – to physical or sexual violence by a current or previous partner.

One-in-two women, and one-in-four men, had experienced sexual harassment, and one-in-20 Australians believe violence against women may be justified.

The report estimated the cost of violence against women and children in Australia in 2015–16 was $22 billion.

For women aged 25-to-44, domestic violence caused more illness, disability and deaths than any other risk factor, such as smoking, alcohol use, overweight, or inactivity.

In 2016–17, about 72,000 women, 34,000 children and 9,000 men seeking refuge services reported that family and domestic violence caused or contributed to their homelessness.

The report showed Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, young women, pregnant women, and those who had experienced abuse or witnessed domestic violence as children, were most at risk of family violence.

“Despite the fact some groups are more vulnerable to experience abuse at different life stages, abuse does cross all of those socioeconomic and cultural boundaries,” Associate Professor Loxton said.

“It’s important to have targeted interventions for particular groups at risk, but it’s important to remember it crosses all boundaries, it’s not limited to those groups singled out at different points in time.”

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