Family, domestic and sexual violence is usually defined by a set of violent behaviours between either family members, or current or former intimate partners. Violent behaviour can include physical, sexual, emotional and psychological abuse (including limiting access to finances, exclusion from contacting family and friends, demeaning and humiliation and any threats of injury or death directed at the victim or their children) [6].

The Personal Safety Survey (PSS) is the most comprehensive data source of the experience of interpersonal violence in Australia. According to the 2012 PSS, an estimated 1 in 2 (49%) men aged 18 and over had experienced violence since the age of 15, compared with 41% of all women aged 18 and over. However, a higher percentage of women than men had reported experiencing violence from a current or former cohabiting partner (17% of all women aged 18 and over, compared with 5% of all men aged 18 and over) [1].

Violence can have a severe impact on the physical, mental and behavioural health of women and children. The consequences of violence can be immediate and acute, long-lasting and chronic, or in some cases, fatal [8]. In 2013–14, just over 20,000 people (13,800 males and 6,300 females) were admitted to hospital for assault injuries [4]. The overall rate of assault injury among women and girls was 56 cases per 100,000 population compared with 121 for men. For females hospitalised for assault injuries, 59% of hospitalisations involved a perpetrator who was a spouse or domestic partner (for cases where the perpetrator was specified).

Understanding the prevalence and extent of victims’ experiences of violence relies on data collected through surveys, or via data collected primarily for administrative purposes (such as police, health or specialised services data). These data sources rely on:

  • victims’ perception of what constitutes family, domestic and sexual violence
  • victims’ willingness to disclose/report the incident
  • how the incident is disclosed/reported [1].

Under the National Plan to Reduce Violence against Women and their Children 2010–2022, all Australian governments are committed to the development of a National Data Collection and Reporting Framework (DCRF), which has been led by the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) [2]. This framework is the basis for building a common language and a coordinated and consolidated approach to service-level data collection.

The AIHW is building on this work by developing, in partnership with the Department of Social Services (DSS) and the ABS, a national family, domestic and sexual violence data clearinghouse and national report. The data clearinghouse will:

  • coordinate national reporting of family, domestic and sexual violence data
  • provide a platform for improving quality and consistency of existing data collections
  • develop a shared understanding of data gaps and priority data developments
  • facilitate the linkage of data sets, subject to appropriate protocols
  • promote researcher access to individual or linked data sets.

The AIHW has also been assisting DSS to develop a set of progress indicators related to the National Outcome Standards for Perpetrator Interventions, and will be preparing annual reports against these indicators starting with 2015–16 data [7].


  1. ABS (Australian Bureau of Statistics) 2013. Personal Safety Survey 2012. ABS cat no. 4906.0. Canberra: ABS.
  2. ABS 2014. Foundations for a national data collection and reporting framework for family, domestic and sexual violence, 2014, ABS cat no. 4529.0.00.003. Canberra: ABS.
  3. AIHW (Australian Institute of Health and Welfare) 2016. Specialist Homelessness Services 2015–16. Canberra: AIHW. Viewed 15 December 2016.
  4. AIHW 2017. Hospitalised assault injuries among women and girls. Cat. no. INJCAT 184. Canberra: AIHW. Viewed 19 April 2017.
  5. Ayre J, Lum On M, Webster K, Gourley M & Moon L 2016. Examination of the burden of disease of intimate partner violence against women in 2011: Final report ANROWS Horizons, 06/2016. Sydney: ANROWS. Viewed 15 November 2016.  
  6. COAG (Council of Australian Governments) 2012. National plan to reduce violence against women and their children. COAG: Canberra. Viewed 10 November 2016.
  7. COAG 2015. National Outcome Standards for Perpetrator Interventions (NOSPI). COAG: Canberra. Viewed 10 November 2016.
  8. Cussen T & Byrant W 2015. Domestic/family homicide in Australia. Research in Practice Series no. 38. Canberra: Australian Institute of Criminology. Viewed 10 November 2016 . 
  9. WHO (World Health Organization) 2013. Global and regional estimates of violence against women: prevalence and health effects of intimate partner violence and non-partner sexual violence. Geneva: World Health Organization. Viewed 3 March 2017.