Because most people who experience domestic violence do not report it to the police, recorded crime statistics cannot tell us exactly how many people in the ACT have experienced domestic violence. The most comprehensive data comes from the ABS Personal Safety Survey, which collects data about the nature and extent of violence experienced by both men and women nationally.

According to additional State and Territory data released by the Australian Bureau of Statistics (Catalogue 49060) from the 2012 Personal Safety Survey on 7 July 2014:

  • in the 12 months prior to the survey around 8,900 ACT women had experienced some form of violence;
  • 6,900 had experienced physical violence, and 3,200 had experienced sexual violence (note: where a woman experienced both physical and sexual violence they were counted separately for each type of violence but were counted only once in the total);
  • younger ACT women reported higher levels of violence than older women, during the 12 months preceding the study with 15.3% of 18 to 24 year olds and 10.1% of 25-34 years olds reporting violence in the preceding 12 months; and
  • ACT women experiencing violence in the last 12 months were more likely to experience violence from a current or former intimate partner or other known person, than a stranger:

And according to the latest issue of the ABS catalogue 4510.0 Recorded Crime –Victims, Australia 2013 released on 26 June 2014:

  • there was a 4.4% increase in the number of sexual assault victims in the ACT from 2012;
  • the majority of sexual assault victims were female – 92%; and
  • persons aged 19 years or under accounted for 56% of all ACT sexual assault victims; and nearly two in three victims of sexual assault knew the offender, with one in four identifying the offender as a family member.

In the ACT, the local Domestic Violence Crisis Service (DVCS) keeps statistics on their service users which helps gives an understanding of the size of the issue in the ACT. The DVCS is providing support to an ever-increasing number of people affected by domestic/family violence in the ACT community – in 2013-14, 94.4% of DVCS clients were female. DVCS works with ACT Policing to provide direct crisis intervention responses at the time of the incident, and also provides 24/7 telephone support – of particular note has been the marked increase of calls to their crisis line each year. DVCS statistics from 2013-14 indicate the following:

  • The number of people provided with face-to-face direct crisis intervention was 1408 (up from 1096 in 2012-13);
  • The number of calls to the 24/7 crisis line was 15,644 (up from 13,959 calls in 2012-13);
  • The number of people supported through court processes/matters (civil criminal) was 670;
  • The number of people assisted with emergency motel accommodation was 67; and
  • The number of sessions provided to children and young people who have been impacted by having lived with domestic/family violence was 363.

Similarly, statistics from the Canberra Rape Crisis Centre (CRCC) show that they are experiencing increases in the reporting of sexual violence in the ACT. Over 2012–13:

  • A total of 10,859 calls were received on the CRCC crisis line (a 21% increase on the previous year). This equates to 30 calls every day of the year, or almost 2 calls an hour, responding to someone in the ACT community affected by sexual assault.
  • CRCC attended the highest number of callouts ever attended by the agency (an increase of 40% on the previous year). The majority of callouts continue to occur during business hours and can range from 2–12 hours in length.
  • CRCC also supported record numbers of clients in counselling sessions. Almost half were adult survivors of child sexual assault. A total of 7,202 sessions were provided to women aged 26 and over, and and 5,685 sessions (37%) were provided to young people between 12 and 25 years.

While domestic violence can happen to anyone, some people in the ACT are more at risk than others, and it can be harder for people who are marginalised in some way to get help.

  • Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women are nearly 10 times more likely to die as a result of assault than other Australian women, and are 35 times more likely to be admitted to hospital for family violence related injuries.[1]
  • Women from culturally and linguistically diverse (CALD) communities who experience domestic and family violence can face significant difficulties, including a lack of support networks, language barriers, socioeconomic disadvantage and lack of knowledge of their rights and Australia’s laws.[2]
  • Women with disabilities are more likely to experience violence than other women, and the violence can be more severe and last longer.
  • More than a third of women identifying as lesbian, bisexual, transgender or intersex have been in a relationship where their partner abused them.[3]

[1] Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, 2006, Family Violence among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples, Australian Institute of Health and Welfare: www.aihw.gov.au/publications/index.cfm/title/10372

[2] COAG, 2012, National Plan to Reduce Violence Against Women and their Children.

[3] National Council to Reduce Violence Against Women and their Children, 2009, Time for Action: The National Council’s Plan for Australia to Reduce Violence Against Women and their Children, 2009-2021, Commonwealth of Australia: http://www.dss.gov.au/sites/default/files/documents/05_2012/the_plan.pdf