Domestic violence leading cause of hospitalised assault among girls and women

Nearly 6,500 women and girls were hospitalised due to assault in Australia in 2013–14, with the violence usually perpetrated by a partner or spouse, according to new analysis from the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW).

The data, available as part of a new series of fact sheets on selected injuries, shows that over half of hospitalised assaults against women and girls were perpetrated by spouses or domestic partners (59% of cases where the perpetrator was specified), with injuries to the head most common (61%).

Parents and other family members accounted for nearly half of the remaining cases where the type of perpetrator was specified.  

In about one-quarter of cases, the perpetrator of the assault was not recorded in the hospital record.

'While women and girls are, overall, hospitalised as the result of assault at a rate that is less than half the equivalent rate for men (56 cases per 100,000 females compared to 121 cases per 100,000 males), the patterns of injury seen for females are different to that seen for males,' said AIHW spokesperson Professor James Harrison.

'The rate of hospitalised assault for women and girls varied by age. It was highest in the 20–34 years age group, at a little over 100 cases per 100,000 women,' he said.

In the 15 years and older age group, 8% of victims were pregnant at the time of the assault.

The AIHW has recently expanded its work on domestic, sexual and family violence, with the first comprehensive statistical picture of the topic due for release later in 2017.

Today's release forms part of a package of injury publications: factsheets covering the subjects of firearm injuries, dog-related injuries, and DIY injuries, and a report on unintentional train and tram-related injuries.  Key findings include:

  • There were about 800 cases of serious unintentional injury involving a train over the 5-year period 2009–10 to 2013–14—an average of about 160 per year.
  • Men made up 90% of firearm-related deaths and injury cases. Almost 90% of firearm-related deaths were due to suicide.
  • Nearly 4,000 people were hospitalised due to a dog-related injury, with the highest number of dog bite hospitalisations occurring among children aged under 9.
  • About 4 in 5 DIY injuries that occurred as a result of falls (for example, from ladders) or while using tools and machinery, occurred in males—most frequently aged 55–74.

Canberra, 19 April 2017

Further information: Professor James Harrison, AIHW, Tel. 08 8201 7602, mob. 0405 031 467