In NSW there are approximately 2,500 reports of domestic violence to the police every month – but this likely represents only 40% of actual incidents due to underreporting (NCOSS, 2020). 

Intimate partner violence 

  • 1 in 4 Australian women (23.0%) has experienced physical or sexual violence by a current or former intimate partner since age 15 (ABS, 2017). 
  • On average, one woman a week is murdered by her current or former partner (Australian Domestic and Family Violence Review Network, 2018) 
  • Intimate partner violence contributes more to the burden than any other risk factor in women aged 18-44 years (5.1%), more than well known risk factors like tobacco use, high cholesterol or use of illicit drugs (Webster, 2016). 
  • Australian women are nearly three times more likely than men to experience violence from an intimate partner (ABS, 2017). 
  • Almost 10 women a day are hospitalised for assault injuries perpetrated by a spouse or domestic partner (AIHW, 2019). 
  • 1 in 4 Australian women (23.0%) has experienced emotional abuse by a current or former cohabiting partner (ABS, 2017). 
  • Women are more than twice as likely as men to have experienced fear or anxiety due to violence from a former partner (ABS, 2017). 
  • Intimate partner violence has serious impacts for women’s health–contributing to a range of negative health outcomes, including poor mental health, problems during pregnancy and birth, alcohol and illicit drug use, suicide, injuries and homicide (Webster, 2016). 
  • The NSW Domestic Violence Death Review Team (2020) recorded that in two-thirds of all intimate partner homicides where a female was killed by a former partner, the victim and perpetrator had separated within three months of the killing and where a female was killed by a current partner in 36 per cent of cases one or both parties had indicated an intent to end the relationship within three months of the killing, concluding that the period directly after separation may be high-risk for women in relationships involving domestic and family violence. 

General Violence 

  • 1 in 3 Australian women (30.5%) has experienced physical violence since the age of 15 (ABS, 2017). 
  • 1 in 5 Australian women (18.4%) has experienced sexual violence since the age of 15 (ABS, 2017). 
  • 1 in 3 Australian women (34.2%) has experienced physical and/or sexual violence perpetrated by a man since the age of 15 (ABS, 2017). 
  • Almost one in 10 women (9.4%) have experienced violence by a stranger since the age of 15 (ABS, 2017). 

Young women 

  • Young women (18–24 years) experience significantly higher rates of physical and sexual violence than women in older age groups (ABS, 2017). 


  • Women with disability are more likely to experience violence (ABS, 2018).  


  • 1 in 5 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women aged 15 and over has experienced physical violence in a 12-month period (ABS, 2016).  
  • Over one-third of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women who have experienced physical violence in the year preceding 2014-15 identified an intimate partner as the perpetrator of their most recent experience of physical violence (ABS, 2016). 


Although there are many similarities to experiences of domestic and family violence amongst heterosexual and cisgendered people, there are also important differences for LGBTIQA+ people; LGBTIQA+ people experience higher rates of discrimination, there are less specialised services to attend for support, and “outing” or threatening to “out” someone because of their gender or sexuality is a form of abuse which is common.  

  • One study has found that lesbian, bisexual and heteroflexible women are at least twice as likely to experience physical violence by a partner as heterosexual, cisgender women (AIHW, 2019). 

Culturally and linguistically diverse 

  • There is a lack of comprehensive, population-wide data on prevalence and impacts of violence against women from migrant and refugee backgrounds. Specific studies suggest high prevalence rates and specific issues of complexity, such as partner using a woman’s temporary migrant status as a means of violence (AIHW, 2018). 


  • Women who experience partner violence during pregnancy are 3 times as likely to experience depression (Brown et al., 2015).  
  • Pregnant women assaulted by a partner are more likely to experience injury to their trunk than other women (Brown et al., 2015). 
  • Violence during pregnancy can have health consequences for babies (Brown et al., 2015). 

The impact of COVID19 on Domestic and Family Violence  

  • There is no evidence of an increase in domestic violence related assault coinciding with the introduction of strict social isolation requirements coming into effect in the last week of March 2020 and throughout April; or even beyond this as restrictions eased up to December 2020. However, there is evidence for an increase in non-criminal domestic conflict from the commencement of COVID-19 restrictions continuing into the middle of 2020 (BOCSAR, 2021).  
  • Executive Director of BOCSAR, Jackie Fitzgerald said that despite there being no clear evidence of an overall increase in domestic violence related assaults associated with the COVID restriction, the prevalence of domestic violence within the community remains high and has lasting effects on victims and their families. “The increase in police attendance to domestic arguments and disturbances following the introduction social isolation restrictions reflects the additional pressures placed on families during this period.  This is a concern given the strong association between emotional abuse and physical violence” (BOCSAR, 2021). 

BOCSAR Statistics 

  • In NSW domestic violence related assaults increased 1.1% over a 24 month period to March 2021, from 31,607 to 31,947 (BOCSAR, 2021). 
  • In NSW sexual assault increased 14.4% over a 24 month period to March 2021, from 6,444 to 7,373 (BOCSAR, 2021). 

Cost to the Australian economy 

  • The cost of violence against women is high and increasing in Australia. A report by PwC, partnering with Our Watch and the Victorian Health Promotion Foundation, estimates that violence against women costs $21.7 billion a year, with victims bearing the primary burden of this cost. Governments (national and State and Territory) bear the second biggest cost burden, estimated at $7.8 billion a year, comprising health, administration and social welfare costs (PwC, 2015). 
  • If no further action is taken to prevent violence against women, PwC estimate that costs will accumulate to $323.4 billion over a thirty year period from 2014-15 to 2044-45 (PwC, 2015). 
  • There is opportunity for governments to invest in preventing violence before it occurs. Evidence from other countries shows that there are significant benefits from investing in prevention. PwC estimate that if similar reductions in violence were achieved as in prevention programs overseas, the benefits would range from $37.8 billion to $74.7 billion over a lifetime (PwC, 2015). 


Australian Bureau of Statistics (2018), Experiences of violence and personal safety of people with disability, ABS cat. no. 4431.0.55.003, Canberra: ABS.  

Australian Bureau of Statistics (2017), Personal Safety, Australia: Statistics for family, domestic, sexual violence, physical assault, partner emotional abuse, child abuse, sexual harassment, stalking and safety,                                                                

Australian Bureau of Statistics (2016), National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social Survey 2014-15, Cat. No. 4714.0. Canberra: ABS.                       

Australian Domestic and Family Violence Review Network (2018), Data report 2018,  

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.  

Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (2018). Family, domestic and sexual violence in Australia 2018. Cat. no FDV 2. Canberra: AIHW.  

Brown S, Gartland D, Woolhouse H & Giallo R (2015). Maternal Health Study policy brief 2: health consequences of family violence: translating evidence from the Maternal Health Study to inform policy and practice. Melbourne: Murdoch Children’s Research Institute.  

NSW Bureau of Crime Statistics and Research (2021), Media release: Domestic violence in NSW in the wake of COVID-19: Update to December 2020,  

NSW Bureau of Crime Statistics and Research (2021), p.19, NSW Recorded Crime Statistics: Quarterly update March 2021.  

NSW Council of Social Service (2020), NSW Budget 2020-21 Analysis: Domestic Violence, 

NSW Domestic Violence Death Review Team (2020), Report 2017-2019, NSW Government.  

PwC (2015), A high price to pay: The economic case for preventing violence against women,  

Webster, K. (2016). A preventable burden: Measuring and addressing the prevalence and health impacts of intimate partner violence in Australian women (ANROWS Compass, 07/2016). Sydney, NSW: ANROWS.