This report describes episodes of hospitalised interpersonal violence which occurred in a 3- year period (2002-03 to 2004-05) that followed the introduction of perpetrator coding in Australia in 2002. The report provides a technical demonstration of the type of analysis that is possible using perpetrator codes.

Over the 3-year period, 60,926 people were hospitalised as a result of interpersonal violence and three-quarters of them were male.

Type of violence

The most commonly reported types of interpersonal violence were Assault by bodily force, accounting for just over half of all cases (33,385, 55%), followed by assaults with blunt (8,599, 14%) and sharp (6,968, 11%) objects, Other maltreatment syndromes (1,282, 2%) and Sexual assault by bodily force (533, 1%). Female victims were hospitalised as a result of maltreatment and sexual assault in greater numbers than male victims; 1,357 and 458 respectively for maltreatment and sexual assault combined.

Perpetrator coding

More than half of all cases (57%) of hospitalised interpersonal violence recorded an Unspecified person as the perpetrator in aggregate over the 3-years. More recent data (2009−10) showed a similar proportion of cases (54%) with Unspecified person. Overall, this suggests that the high proportion of cases with Unspecified person in the first 3 years was not associated with implementation of the data collection. Cases lacking specific information about a perpetrator may have occurred for a number of reasons including information not being reported by or on behalf of victims or information not being recorded in the patient's hospital record. A small proportion of cases recorded a person unknown (8%) or multiple persons unknown (5%) to the victim.

Interpersonal violence against women

Women were most commonly reported as a victim of an Assault by bodily force (8,102), followed by Assault by blunt object (2,570). Head injuries were prominent regardless of the type of assault (55% for all types of interpersonal violence). Irrespective of the type of assault, female victims were most commonly reported to have been assaulted in the Home (35%) and by their Spouse or domestic partner (40%).