Indigenous family violence gets a closer look

Family violence is an issue of national significance in Australia. The importance of this issue in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities has been recognised by community leaders who have encouraged and supported the development of better information in this area. A report released today by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW) sheds light on the extent of family violence and its associated harms for Indigenous people in particular.

Report author, Dr Fadwa Al-Yaman, said the report, Family violence among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, is the first to take a comprehensive look at the extent to which existing data can be used to profile Indigenous family violence.

'Looking at the data in this way provides important information on the services needed, and where they can be best targeted,' Dr Al-Yaman said.

Findings of the report include:

  • In 2005, 6% of Australian women and 11% of men reported that they had experienced violence in the last 12 months. Most of those women (78%) and many of those men (34%) were assaulted by someone known to them.
  • In 2002-03, of all Australian women who experienced intimate partner violence, most (86%) did not report the incident to the police and 84% did not seek formal help.
  • In 2002, about one in four Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people aged 15 years and over reported being a victim of physical or threatened violence in the twelve months before the survey (24%) -around twice the rate of non-Indigenous Australians.
  • The rate of reported violence among Indigenous Australians was similar in remote and non-remote areas, but the rate of family violence reported as a neighbourhood problem in remote areas was almost three times that in urban areas (41% compared to 14%).
  • In 2003-04, there were 4,500 hospitalisations of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people due to assault in Queensland, Western Australia, South Australia and the Northern Territory combined-50% of hospitalisations of Indigenous women due to assault were related to family violence, with four out of five assaults committed by a spouse or partner.

'The data showed that about one-third of the assaults for which people were hospitalised, occurred in the family home' Dr Al-Yaman said.

Indigenous women were 13 times, and Indigenous men seven times, more likely to seek refuge from family violence through the Supported Accommodation Assistance Program (SAAP) than were non-Indigenous women and men respectively.

1 November 2006

Further information: Dr Fadwa Al-Yaman, tel. 02 6244 1146 or mob. 0407 068 033

For media copies of the report: Publications Officer, AIHW, tel 61 2 6244 1032.