Family and domestic violence affects people of all ages, genders and backgrounds, but it predominantly affects women and children (AIHW 2022). In Australia, 1 in 6 women (17% or 1.6 million) and 1 in 16 men (6% or 548,000) have experienced physical or sexual violence from a current or previous cohabiting partner since the age of 15 (ABS 2017). Approximately 2.5 million Australian adults (13%) experienced abuse during their childhood; the majority knew the perpetrator and experienced multiple incidents of abuse (ABS 2017).
Family and domestic violence is the main reason women and children leave their homes in Australia (AHURI 2021). SHS agencies provide a crisis response service for people who have to leave their home due to violence, yet data suggests that the pathway into stable, secure, long-term housing is challenging (Flanagan et al. 2019). SHS clients who have experienced family and domestic violence made up 39% of Specialist Homelessness Services (SHS) clients in 2021–22 (Supplementary data table CLIENTS.39). Since 2011–12, the number of SHS clients who have experienced family and domestic violence increased by an annual average of 3.1% (Historical data table HIST.FDV).
In February 2019, the Australian Government announced $72.6 million for the Safe Places package to provide safe places for people affected by family and domestic violence. Safe Places was designed to provide new or expanded emergency and crisis accommodation for women and children experiencing family and domestic violence. The program aimed to build up to 760 safe places and assist up to 6,300 people escaping family and domestic violence each year (DSS 2020). An additional $100 million of funding for Safe Places over 5 years (2022–23 to 2026–27) was announced as part of the 2022–23 Budget to create 720 new accommodation places and support an additional 2,880 people annually (The Commonwealth of Australia 2022).
In March 2021, the Parliamentary inquiry into family, domestic and sexual violence found that victim-survivors of violence often bear the costs for leaving the relationship, the family home and their community (HRSCSPLA 2021). The inquiry recommended federal, state and territory governments consider funding for emergency accommodation for people who use violence (perpetrators) in order to prevent victim-survivors being forced to flee their homes or continue residing in a violent home (HRSCSPLA 2021).
The National plan to end violence against women and children affirms that safe, affordable and accessible housing is key to ending violence against women and children (DSS 2022). Response objective 3 of the national plan is focussed on housing, specifically “Ensure women and children escaping violence have safe and secure housing, from crisis accommodation to longer-term, sustainable social housing”.
Women and children affected by family and domestic violence are a national priority cohort in the National Housing and Homelessness Agreement, which came into effect on 1 July 2018 (CFFR 2018) (see Policy section for more information).
Reporting clients experiencing family and domestic violence in the Specialist Homelessness Services Collection (SHSC)
In the SHSC, a client is reported as experiencing family and domestic violence if in any support period during the reporting period the client sought assistance as a result of physical or emotional abuse inflicted on the client by a family member or if as part of any support period a person required family or domestic violence assistance.
The SHSC had information on clients experiencing family and domestic violence of any age. Changes made to the SHSC separates victim and/or perpetrators support services provided to clients. However, for 2021–22, separation of the victim and perpetrator service information is not provided due to data quality concerns that are common in early years following implementation. For more information, see Technical information.
Data quality statement note
Caution should be used when comparing Victorian client numbers over recent years. A practice correction to how some family violence agencies were recording clients as well as a phased shift of family violence intake to non-SHS services may result in an overall decrease in FDV client numbers since 2017-18. For more information, see 2019–20 SHS Data Quality Statement and 2021–22 SHS Data Quality Statement.
In 2021–22 (Supplementary table FDV.1 and Historical table HIST.FDV):
- SHS agencies assisted around 108,000 clients (of any age) who experienced family and domestic violence, equating to 39% of all SHS clients.
- There was a decrease in the number of SHS clients who had experienced family and domestic violence (around 8,500 SHS clients) compared with 2020–21.
- The rate of SHS clients who experienced family and domestic violence was 41.9 per 10,000 population, a decrease from 47.4 in 2016–17.
Although the number of clients who had experienced family and domestic violence decreased between 2020–21 and 2021–22, since the start of the SHS collection in July 2011 the number of clients increased by an annual average of 3.1% (Historical data table HIST.FDV).
Figure FDV.1: Key demographics, SHS clients who have experienced family and domestic violence, 2021–22