Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (2021) Assault and homicide., AIHW, Australian Government, accessed 28 January 2022
Australian Institute of Health and Welfare. (2021). Assault and homicide. Retrieved from https://www.aihw.gov.au/reports/injury/assault-and-homicide
Assault and homicide. Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, 09 December 2021, https://www.aihw.gov.au/reports/injury/assault-and-homicide
Australian Institute of Health and Welfare. Assault and homicide [Internet]. Canberra: Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, 2021 [cited 2022 Jan. 28]. Available from: https://www.aihw.gov.au/reports/injury/assault-and-homicide
Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW) 2021, Assault and homicide, viewed 28 January 2022, https://www.aihw.gov.au/reports/injury/assault-and-homicide
Get citations as an Endnote file:
Intentional violence against another person is classified as assault (injury) or homicide (death).
Males are more likely than females to be hospitalised from assault or die from homicide. Hospitalised injuries from assault are most often caused by bodily force, such as punching and kicking. Fracture is the most common type of injury sustained in hospitalised assaults.
In 2018–19, assault and homicide resulted in:
88 per 100,000 population
1.0 per 100,000 population
This represents 4.1% of hospitalised injuries and 1.8% of injury deaths.
People who seek health care due to an assault may choose not to disclose that their injuries were intentional. This may be because they know the perpetrator and want to avoid criminal proceedings. For this reason, assault injuries are probably not all identified as such in hospital statistics—they may instead be coded as an unintentional injury such as a Fall or Contact with an object—or details of the assault may be incomplete or unspecified. For more information, see Technical notes.
Bodily force (includes assault and sexual assault) (Y04–05)
Blunt object (Y00)
Sharp object (X99)
Other or unspecified (X85–93, X95–98, Y01–03, Y06–09, Y35–36)
1. Rates are crude per 100,000 population, calculated using estimated resident population as at 31 December of the relevant year.
2. Percentages may not total 100 due to rounding.
3. Codes in brackets refer to the ICD-10-AM (10th edition) external cause codes (ACCD 2017).
Source: AIHW National Hospital Morbidity Database.
For more detail, see Data tables B29–30.
The age-standardised rate of hospitalisations due to assault in 2018–19 was 1% lower than the previous year. There had been a downward trend between 2009–10 and 2014–15, followed by an upward trend to 2016–17 – leaving an average annual decrease of 1.9% for the period from 2009–10 to 2016–17.
Figure 1 shows that, when examined by sex, the overall decrease is accounted for by the male rate. The age-standardised female rate in fact increased (at a more gentle slope).
There is a break in the time series for hospitalisations between 2016–17 and 2017–18 due to a change in data collection methods (see the Technical notes for details).
The homicide death rate showed an average annual decrease of 2.1% between 2009–10 and 2018–19. There were notable flucations, however, and over the final year it rose from 0.9 to 1.0 per 100,000. (Figure 1).
The visualisation features 2 matching line graphs on separate tabs, 1 for hospitalisations and 1 for deaths. The 3 lines represent the trend for males, females and persons from 2009–10 to 2018–19. The reader can select to display rate per 100,000 population or number.
For more detail, see Data tables C1–7 and E1–4.
Assault hospitalisations and homicide death rates differ for males and females, especially for certain age groups (Figure 2).
The visualisation features 2 matching column graphs on separate tabs, 1 for hospitalisations and 1 for deaths. The columns represent sex within 6 life-stage age groups. The reader can select to display either age-specific rate per 100,000 population or number. The default displays males and females and the reader can also select to display persons.
For more detail, see Data tables A1–3 and D1–3.
Key differences between the sexes can be seen in statistics about the relationship of the victim to the perpetrator of hospitalised assaults. For female victims, the perpetrator was a domestic partner in almost 6 out of 10 of the cases where the relationship was specified. For male victims, it was more likely to be a person or persons unknown, or an acquaintance, than a family member (Figure 3).
The perpetrator was unspecified in a large proportion of cases (48% for male victims and 16% for female victims). This information may be unavailable for a number of reasons, including because it was not reported by, or on behalf of, victims, or not recorded in the patient’s hospital record (AIHW 2019).
A range of factors may influence disclosure of the perpetrator in a hospital setting, for example: personal feelings such as fear of further abuse, or shame; and factors specific to the setting, including sufficient privacy and time to disclose, and appropriate staff training and procedures which support disclosure.
Bar graph representing categories of relationship of perpetrator to victim, by sex. For males the most common category was unspecified person, followed by person unknown to the victim followed by acquaintance or friend. For females it was spouse or domestic partner, followed by unspecified person followed by other family member.
For more detail, see Data tables B30–31.
There are many ways that the severity, or seriousness, of an injury could be assessed. Using the available data, three measures of the severity of hospitalised injuries are:
The average number of days in hospital for assault injuries was shorter than for all hospitalised injuries. The percentage of assault cases that included time in an ICU was slightly lower, while the percentage that involved continuous ventilatory support was slightly higher than for all hospitalised injuries (Table 2).
Average number of days in hospital
% of cases with time in an ICU
% of cases involving continuous ventilatory support
Note: Average number of days in hospital (length of stay) includes admissions that are transfers from 1 hospital to another or transfers from 1 admitted care type to another within the same hospital, except where care involves rehabilitation procedures.
For more detail, see Data table A12–13.
In 2018–19, the head and neck was the body part most often identified as the principal site of injury in hospitalised assaults (Figure 4). In part, this may reflect the inherently serious nature of head and neck injuries—injuries to other parts of the body may be less likely to lead to admission to hospital.
Note: Body part refers to the principal reason for hospitalisation. Number and percentage of injuries classified as Other, multiple and incompletely specified body regions or Injuries not described in terms of body region not shown—see Data table A11.
For more detail, see Data table A11.
Fractures and open wounds were the most common type of principal injury for people who were hospitalised for injury due to assault (Figure 5).
Bar graph showing type of injury sustained by category and by sex. Fracture was the most common for males, while open wound was for females. The reader can select to display either the crude rate per 100,000 population or the number of cases. The default display shows data for males and females, and the reader can also select to display for persons.
For more detail, see Data table A10.
In 2018–19, among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people:
Rate (per 100,000)
Note: Rates are crude per 100,000 population.
1. Rates are crude per 100,000 population.
2. Deaths data only includes data for New South Wales, Queensland, Western Australia, South Australia, and the Northern Territory.
Source: AIHW National Mortality Database.
In 2018–19, Indigenous Australians, after adjusting for differences in population age structure, were:
1. Rates are age-standardised to the 2001 Australian population (per 100,000).
2. ‘Other Australians’ includes cases where Indigenous status is missing or not stated.
n.p. Not publishable because of small numbers, confidentiality or other concerns about the quality of the data.
1. Rates are age-standardised to the 2001 Australian population (per 100,000).
2. ‘Non-Indigenous Australians’ excludes cases where Indigenous status is missing or not stated.
3. Deaths data only includes data for New South Wales, Queensland, Western Australia, South Australia, and the Northern Territory.
For more detail, see Data tables A4–6 and D4–8.
The age-specific rate of hospitalised assaults was highest among the 25–44 life-stage age group for Indigenous Australians, and the 15–24 age group for non-Indigenous Australians and (Figure 6). Deaths data are not presented because of small numbers.
Column graph representing hospitalisation data for Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians by 6 life-stage age groups. The reader can select to display age-specific rate per 100,000 population or number. The reader can also select to display data for persons, males or females.
In 2018–19, people living in Australia’s Very remote areas, compared with those living in Major Cities, were 17 times as likely to be hospitalised due to assault (age-standardised) (Table 7). These differences in assault injury hospitalisations rates partly reflect the higher proportion of Indigenous Australians living in remote areas of Australia.
Note: Rates are age-standardised per 100,000 population.
The highest age-specific rate of hospitalised assaults was among the 25–44 life-stage age group living in Very remote areas of Australia. (Figure 7).
Deaths data are not presented because of small numbers.
Column graph representing hospitalisation data for each of the 5 remoteness categories by 6 life-stage age groups. The reader can select to display age-specific rate per 100,000 population or number. The reader can also select to display data for persons, males or females.
For more detail, see Data tables A7–9 and D9–10.
To read how statistics by remoteness are calculated, see the Technical notes.
Defining injury hospitalisations and deaths: how injuries were counted
Technical notes: how the data were calculated
Data tables: download the full tables
ACCD (Australian Consortium for Classification Development) 2017. The international statistical classification of diseases and related health problems, 10th revision, Australian modification (ICD-10-AM), 10th edn. Tabular list of diseases and alphabetic index of diseases. Adelaide: Independent Hospital Pricing Authority (IHPA), Lane Publishing.
AIHW (Australian Institute of Health and Welfare) 2019. Family, domestic and sexual violence in Australia: continuing the national story 2019. Cat. no. FDV 3. Canberra: AIHW.
The following are publications from recent years that include information on assault and homicide. See Reports for any older publications that may exist.
Family Domestic and sexual violence (topic page)
Family, domestic and sexual violence in Australia: continuing the national story 2019
Sexual assault in Australia
Trends in hospitalised injury, Australia, 2007–08 to 2016–17
Trends in injury deaths, Australia, 1999–00 to 2016–17
Hospitalised injury among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, 2011-12 to 2015-16
Hospitalised injury and socioeconomic influence in Australia, 2015–16
Indigenous injury deaths, 2011–12 to 2015–16
Injury mortality and socioeconomic influence in Australia, 2015–16
Eye injuries in Australia, 2010–11 to 2014–15
Hospitalised assault injuries among men and boys (2014–15)
Firearm injuries and deaths (2012–13 to 2013–14)
Work-related hospitalised injuries, Australia, 2006–07 to 2013–14
Hospitalised assault injuries among women and girls (2013–14)
We'd love to know any feedback that you have about the AIHW website, its contents or reports.
The browser you are using to browse this website is outdated and some features may not display properly or be accessible to you. Please use a more recent browser for the best user experience.