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Family, domestic and sexual violence Home


  1. A


    A term used to capture the way that the construction of social systems with able bodied people as the norm results in the systemic, structural, intersecting and individual forms of discrimination against, and exclusion of, people with disability.

    Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander (First Nations)

    People who have identified themselves, or have been identified by a representative (for example, their parent or guardian), as being of Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander origin. When referring to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander population groups, First Nations people is the preferred term. See also Indigenous status. 

    administrative data

    Data that are collected for the purposes of delivering a service or paying the provider of the service. This type of collection is usually complete (all in-scope events are collected), but it may not be fully suitable for population-level analysis because the data are collected primarily for an administrative purpose.  

    adolescent family violence

    Violence used by children and young people against family members, including physical, emotional, financial and sexual abuse. 

    adverse childhood experiences

    Potentially traumatic events that occur in childhood and can have negative lasting effects on multiple domains of functioning (e.g. health and wellbeing).

    age-standardised rate

    Rate for which the influence of age is removed by converting the age structures of the different populations to the same ‘standard’ structure. This provides a more valid way to compare rates from populations with different age structures. Rates can be expressed in many ways, examples, per 100,000 population and per 1,000 population.

  2. B

    burden of disease (and injury)

    The quantified impact of a disease or injury on a population, using the disability-adjusted life years (DALYs) measure.

  3. C

    child maltreatment

    The abuse and neglect that occurs to children under 18 years of age. It includes all types of physical and/or emotional ill-treatment, sexual abuse, neglect, negligence and commercial or other exploitation, which results in actual or potential harm to the child’s health, survival, development or dignity in the context of a relationship of responsibility, trust or power. 


    A structural stigma that positions expansive expressions of gender as a problem, ignores the validity of non-binary genders and seeks to enforce traditional gender roles and inequalities. Cisgenderism is sometimes referred to as cisnormativity and cissexism.

    coercive control

    A pattern of controlling behaviour used by a perpetrator to establish and maintain control over another person. Coercive control is almost always an underlying dynamic of family and domestic violence and intimate partner violence, and is used to deprive another person of liberty, autonomy and agency. 

    cohabiting partner

    A partner the person lives with, or has lived with at some point, in a married or de facto relationship. 

    confidence interval

    A statistical term describing a range (interval) of values within which we can be ‘confident’ that the true value lies, usually because it has a 95% or higher chance of doing so.

    corporal punishment

    The use of physical force with the intention of causing a child to experience pain or discomfort to correct or punish a child’s behaviour.

    cross-sectional data

    Data that represent a particular population at a specific time.

    cultural competency

    The ability to understand, communicate and effectively interact across cultures at an individual and organisational level.

  4. D

    dating violence

    Violent or intimidating behaviours perpetrated by an intimate partner a person does not live with, or has never lived with, such as a boyfriend, girlfriend or date.


    A person who has been charged with a criminal offence.


    Umbrella term for any or all of: an impairment of body structure or function; a limitation in activities; or a restriction in participation. Disability is a multidimensional concept and is considered as an interaction between health conditions and personal and environmental factors.

    domestic homicide

    Unlawful killing of a family member or other person in a domestic relationship, including people who have an intimate relationship.

    domestic violence order

    A civil order issued by a court that seeks to protect a person from domestic violence by setting out specific conditions that must be obeyed. Domestic violence orders can also be referred to as Apprehended Domestic Violence Orders, Family Violence Intervention Orders, Intervention Orders and Family Violence Orders . 

    dowry abuse

    Any act of coercion, violence or harassment associated with the giving or receiving of dowry at any time before, during or after marriage. Dowry is a practice referring to money, property or gifts that are typically transferred by a woman’s family to her husband upon marriage. Dowry abuse commonly involves claims that dowry was not paid and coercive demands for further money or gifts from a woman and her extended family. 

  5. E

    early intervention

    A response (also known as secondary prevention) that aims to identify and support individuals and families experiencing, or at risk of, violence to stop the violence from escalating, protect victim-survivors from harm and prevent violence from reoccurring.

    elder abuse

    A single or repeated act or lack of appropriate action, occurring within any relationship where there is an expectation of trust which causes harm or distress to an older person. Elder abuse can take various forms, including physical, psychological, financial and sexual abuse, as well as neglect. 

    emotional abuse

    Behaviours or actions that are perpetrated with the intent to manipulate, control, isolate or intimidate, and which cause emotional harm or fear. Can include limiting access to finances, preventing the victim from contacting family and friends, demeaning and humiliating the victim, and any threats of injury or death directed at the victim or their children. For child protection reporting, emotional abuse refers to any act by a person having the care of a child that results in the child suffering any significant emotional deprivation or trauma. Children affected by exposure to family violence are also included in this category.

  6. F

    family and domestic violence

    Sometimes referred to only as family violence, is a term used for violence that occurs within family relationships. Family relationships are those between family members, including partners (or previous partners), parents, siblings and other family members or kinship relationships. Family relationships can include carers, foster carers and co-residents (for example in group homes or boarding residences). Family violence is the term preferred by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, noting the ways violence can manifest across extended family networks.

    family violence

    See family and domestic violence.

    financial abuse

    A pattern of control, exploitation or sabotage of money, finances and economic resources, which affects a person’s ability to obtain, use or maintain economic resources, threatening their economic security and potential for self-sufficiency and independence.

    First Nations people

    People who have identified themselves, or have been identified by a representative (for example, their parent or guardian), as being of Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander origin.

    forced marriage

    Situations where a person is married without freely and fully consenting. This may involve a person being forced to marry through threats, deception and/or coercion including psychological and emotional pressure and/or abuse. A marriage is also considered forced when a person is incapable of understanding the implications of marriage or a marriage ceremony for reasons including age or mental capacity. Arranged marriages, where both parties provide ongoing consent to their marriage being organised by a third party or family members, are not considered forced marriage. 

  7. G

    gender/gender identity

    Gender is a social and cultural concept. It is about social and cultural identity, expression and experience as a man, woman or non-binary person. Gender identity is about who a person feels themself to be. Gender expression is the way a person expresses their gender; person's gender expression may also vary depending on the context, for instance expressing different genders at work and home. Gender experience describes a person’s alignment with the gender presumed for them at birth, i.e. a cis experience or a trans experience.

    gender inequality

    A social condition characterised by unequal value afforded to men and women and an unequal distribution of power, resources and opportunity between them.

  8. H


    A suite of cultural, legal and institutional practices that work to explicitly privilege relationships between ‘men’ and ‘women’ as the only ‘normal’ and ‘natural’ form of relationship.


    The unlawful killing of a person including cases where a person is charged with murder or manslaughter or where a death is classed as a homicide by police.

  9. I

    Indigenous status

    The First Nations status of a person, when collected using the Indigenous status data standard. See also First Nations and Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander.

    intimate partner homicide

    A homicide where the victim and offender have a current or former intimate relationship, including same-sex and extramarital relationships.

    intimate partner violence

    Violent or intimidating behaviours perpetrated by current or former intimate partners, including cohabiting partner, boyfriend, girlfriend or date. See also partner violence.

  10. K

    kidnapping and abduction

    The unlawful taking away or confinement of a person against that person’s will, or against the will of any parent, guardian or other person having lawful custody or care of that person.

  11. L


    Lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, intersex, queer, asexual people, or people otherwise diverse in gender, sex or sexual orientation.

    longitudinal data

    Data that is collected on the same people repeatedly over time.

  12. M

    mainstream services

    Services available in the community that may be accessed by someone experiencing FDSV. These services may have a broader scope than FDSV, and can include health and welfare, and justice services.


    An unlawful killing while deprived of the power of self-control by provocation, or under circumstances amounting to diminished responsibility or without intent to kill, as a result of a careless, reckless, negligent, unlawful or dangerous act (other than the act of driving).

    Metoo (#Metoo)

    A global movement that seeks to raise awareness on sexual and gender-based violence. The phrase is still used on social media as a sign of solidarity for victim-survivors of sexual harassment and assault.


    A person who was born overseas whose usual residence is Australia. A person is regarded as a usual resident if they have been (or are expected to be) residing in Australia for a period of 12 months or more, with the exception of foreign diplomatic personnel and their families.


    An unlawful killing where there is: intent to kill; intent to cause grievous bodily harm, with the knowledge that it was probable that death or grievous bodily harm would occur; and/or no intent to kill but it occurs in the course of committing a crime.

  13. N


    Any serious acts or omissions by a carer that constitute a failure to provide necessary care and support to the person receiving care (e.g. dependent adults or children). For example, for child protection reporting, neglect refers to serious acts or omissions by a person having the care of a child that, within the bounds of cultural tradition, constitute a failure to provide conditions that are essential for the healthy physical and emotional development of a child. 

  14. O


    A person aged 10 years or over who is proceeded against and recorded by police for one or more criminal offences. People aged 10-17 may be referred to as ‘youth offenders’.

    out of home care

    Overnight care for children aged under 18 for which there is ongoing case management and financial payment (including where a financial payment has been offered but has been declined by the carer).

  15. P

    partner violence

    Violent or intimidating behaviours perpetrated by a current or former cohabiting partner. See also intimate partner violence.


    Describes something that pertains to, or that occurred in, the period shortly before or after birth (usually up to 28 days after).

    people who have experienced FDSV

    Generally used to describe people who have had FDSV used against them. However, in some instances where detailed information is not available, the term may also be used to refer collectively to those who have had violence used against them and those who use violence. People who have experienced FDSV are sometimes referred to as victims, victim-survivors or survivors.

    people who use violence

    A broad and inclusive term used to describe people who use violent and harmful behaviours against others. It extends to children and young people who use violence. Adults who use violence are often referred to as perpetrators.


    An adult (aged 18 years and over) who uses, or has used, violence against others.

    physical violence

    Non-accidental physical act inflicted on a person by another person. Can include slaps, hits, punches, being pushed down stairs or across a room, choking and burns, as well as the use of knives, firearms and other weapons, or threats of such acts. For some data sources, the term physical abuse is used to refer to physical violence in specific contexts or for a certain age group, such as elder abuse or child abuse. For example: in the Personal Safety Survey, physical abuse refers only to incidents that occurred before the age of 15; for child protection reporting, physical abuse refers to any non-accidental physical act inflicted upon a child by a person having the care of a child.

    post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)

    The development of a set of reactions in people who have experienced a traumatic event that might have threatened their life or safety, or others around them. Examples of traumatic events can include war or torture, serious accidents, physical or sexual assault, or disasters. A person who has PTSD can experience feelings of helplessness, horror or intense fear.

    pregnant people

    A gender-neutral term that may be used to refer to all people who were pregnant, regardless of their gender identity (including for example, people who identify as women, transgender or non-binary).


    The number or proportion of cases, instances or events in a population at a given time.


    Prevention means stopping violence from occurring by addressing its underlying drivers. This requires changing the social conditions that give rise to this violence, and reforming the institutions and systems that excuse, justify or even promote such violence.

    primary health care

    The entry level to the health system that is usually a person’s first encounter with the health system. It includes a broad range of activities and services that are delivered outside the hospital setting – from health promotion and prevention, to treatment and management of acute and chronic conditions. The primary health care workforce is large and diverse, and includes general practitioners, nurses, and a range of allied health professionals such as chiropractors, optometrists, pharmacists and physiotherapists.

    principal offences

    The ‘most serious’ offence for a defendant. The principal offence is based on how the defendant’s offences were finalised, the most serious sentence type with the largest sentence length or fine amount, and the hierarchy of the National Offence Index 2018, which provides an ordinal ranking of offence categories in the Australian and New Zealand Standard Offence Classification (ANZSOC) according to perceived seriousness.

    protective factors

    Factors that enhance the likelihood of positive outcomes and lessen the chance of negative consequences from exposure to risk.

  16. R


    The process by which systems and policies, actions and attitudes create inequitable opportunities and outcomes for people based on race. It occurs when prejudice in thought or action – whether individual or institutional – is accompanied by the power to discriminate against, oppress or limit the rights of others. 


    The ongoing process that aims to assist victim-survivors. Recovery services support victim-survivors to be safe, healthy and resilient, to have economic security, and to have post-traumatic growth. This support helps victim-survivors to recover from the financial, social, psychological and physical impacts of violence.

    redress scheme

    A scheme under which a person is offered compensation for a wrong or grievance. For example, the National Redress Scheme provides redress to people who experienced institutional child sexual abuse, which can include access to counselling, a redress payment and a direct personal response.


    A person who is subject to persecution in their home country and in need of resettlement. The majority of individuals considered to be a refugee are identified by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and referred by the UNHCR to Australia.

    relative standard error

    The standard error of an estimate divided by the estimate multiplied by 100. The relative standard error is displayed as a percentage. A standard error is a measure of sampling error that indicates the degree to which an estimate may differ from one sample to another.


    Each state and territory is divided into regions based on their relative accessibility to goods and services (such as general practitioners, hospitals and specialist care), measured by road distance. These regions are based on the Accessibility/Remoteness Index of Australia and defined as Remoteness Areas by either the Australian Standard Geographical Classification (before 2011) or the Australian Statistical Geographical Standard (from 2011 onwards) in each Census year.

    reproductive coercion and abuse

    Any interference with a person’s reproductive autonomy that seeks to control if and when they become pregnant, and whether the pregnancy is maintained or terminated. It may include pregnancy coercion, birth control sabotage or controlling the outcome of a pregnancy.


    Actions (also known as ‘tertiary prevention’) taken to address existing family, domestic and sexual violence. This can include informal support (such as disclosure to a friend or family) and formal support (such as police and legal services, health professionals or housing assistance). These efforts aim to prevent the reoccurrence of violence by supporting victim-survivors and holding perpetrators to account. Responses by services are sometimes referred to as ‘service responses’.


    A person re-experiencing the stress and emotional response experienced because of a traumatic event in response to a new but triggering experience.

    risk factors

    Any attributes, characteristics or exposures that increase the likelihood of a person developing a health condition or experiencing an event.

  17. S


    A person's sex is based upon their sex characteristics, such as their chromosomes, hormones and reproductive organs. While typically based upon the sex characteristics observed and recorded at birth or infancy, a person's sex can change over the course of their lifetime and may differ from their sex recorded at birth.

    sexual abuse

    Behaviours of a sexual nature by one person upon another, typically used within specific contexts or for a certain age group, such as elder abuse or child abuse. Sexual abuse of a child refers to any act that exposes a child to, or involves the child in, sexual activities that: the child does not understand, the child does not or cannot consent to, are not accepted by the community, or are unlawful. It includes, but is not limited to, sexual assault. Other behaviours include forcing a child to watch or hear sexual acts, taking sexualised photos of a child, and sexually explicit talk.

    sexual and reproductive health

    A state of physical, emotional, mental and social wellbeing in relation to all aspects of sexuality and reproduction. It includes the right to healthy relationships, safety to express individual sexual and gender identity, access to health care and accurate information, protection from and treatment of sexually transmitted infections, and freedom from coercion, discrimination, violence and stigma.

    sexual assault

    Sexual act carried out against a person’s will through the use of physical force, intimidation or coercion, including any attempts to do this. Includes rape, attempted rape, aggravated sexual assault (assault with a weapon), indecent assault, and penetration by objects, forced sexual activity that did not end in penetration and attempts to force a person into sexual activity. These acts are an offence under state and territory criminal law.

    sexual exploitation and servitude

    A form of forced labour where a person is coerced, deceived or forced to engage in sex work and/or are being held in captivity and subject to physical and sexual violence. The creation of child sexual abuse material can also be considered sexual exploitation. 

    sexual harassment

    Behaviours that make a person uncomfortable and are offensive due to their sexual nature. The ABS Personal Safety Survey includes the following behaviours: indecent text messages, emails or social media posts; indecent exposure; inappropriate comments; unwanted sexual touching; distributing of posting pictures of a sexual nature without consent; and unwanted exposure to picture, videos or materials which were sexual in nature.

    sexual orientation

    An umbrella concept that encapsulates: sexual identity (how a person thinks of their sexuality and the terms they identify with), attraction (romantic or sexual interest in another person), and behaviour (sexual behaviour). It is a subjective view of oneself and can change over the course of their lifetime and in different contexts.

    sexual violence

    Behaviours of a sexual nature carried out against a person’s will using physical force and/or coercion (or any threat or attempt to do so). Can include sexual abuse, sexual assault and sexual harassment.

    socio-economic disadvantage

    An aspect of the set of indexes, created from Census data, that aims to represent the socioeconomic position of Australian communities and identify areas of advantage and disadvantage. The index value reflects the overall or average level of disadvantage of the population of an area. It does not show how individuals living in the same area differ from each other in their socioeconomic group. 

    specialist FDSV services

    Services that are specifically designed to assist people who experience or use FDSV. The services provided can vary, but in general, they assist and support victim-survivors, perpetrators, and others affected by FDSV, by providing short- and longer-term responses.

    specialist homelessness services

    Assistance provided by a specialist homelessness agency to a client aimed at responding to or preventing homelessness. Includes accommodation provision, assistance to sustain housing, domestic/family violence services, mental health services, family/relationship assistance, disability services, drug/alcohol counselling, legal/financial services, immigration/cultural services, other specialist services and general assistance and support.

    specialist perpetrator intervention

    Services that work directly with perpetrators with the goal of holding them accountable for their violence, and stop violence from recurring in the future.


    Unwanted behaviours, such as following or unwanted contact, that occur more than once and cause fear or distress. Stalking is a crime in every state and territory of Australia. In the Personal Safety Survey, behaviours include, but are not limited to: loitering, following or watching, unwanted contact, posting unwanted messages or personal information on the internet, giving offensive or disturbing objects, and interfering with property.


    A set of questions aimed at collecting information from a selected sample of people.

    systemic barriers

    Policies, practices or procedures that result in unequal access or exclusion for some people (e.g. poverty, racism, a lack of culturally appropriate services).

  18. T

    technology-facilitated abuse

    A broad term encompassing any form of abuse that utilises mobile and digital technologies.

    trauma-informed practice

    The integration of an understanding of past and current experiences of violence and trauma in all aspects of service delivery. The goal of trauma-informed systems is to avoid re-traumatising individuals and support safety, choice and control to promote healing.

  19. V

    verbal abuse

    A form of emotional abuse that involves the harmful use of language to control, intimidate or hurt others.


    People who have experienced FDSV. See also victim-survivor.

    victimisation rate

    The total number of persons in a relevant population who experienced victimisation as a proportion of the total relevant population.


    Person who has experienced FDSV. The AIHW acknowledges that not all people prefer or use the terms victim or victim-survivor to identify themselves.


    Behaviours (or patterns of behaviour) that cause harm. Violence can occur in the form of assault, threat, abuse, neglect or harassment and is often used by a person, or people, to intimidate, harm or control others.

    visa abuse

    Situations where a person’s temporary migrant status is used by a perpetrator to control or coerce them or their family member.

  20. W


    Adjustment of the characteristics of one group so they are statistically similar to the characteristics of another group so that comparisons of the effect under study can be more certain.