The Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) has published shocking statistics this year in relation to the current prevalence of domestic violence in Australia. Never until now has this issue and its effects on society been so frequent in the media and efforts to try and combat it are in motion by several government bodies.
According to a social policy research paper by the Parliament of Australia published in March this year, the central element of domestic violence is an ‘ongoing pattern of behaviour aimed at controlling a partner through fear’.
Verbal, sexual and physical abuse all falls under this definition. Domestic violence is differentiated from family violence, which is a broader term and may involve ‘a variety of kinship and marital arrangements.’
Domestic violence is becoming more and more common all over Australia, with the number of reported incidents increasing from 58,000 in 2011-12 to over 66,000 in 2013-14 in Queensland alone, according to a report released by the state’s Special Taskforce on Domestic and Family Violence.
The Taskforces’ report, which was released in February this year, has uncovered that 70% of women who are murdered in Australia are killed as a consequence of family domestic violence. Furthermore, it has been found that across Australia every week a woman is killed by her current or ex-partner.
The statistics from the ABS, which are detailed in the report, point to the most common pattern of domestic and family violence being committed by men against women and children; however the repercussions and physical consequences of domestic violence extend to the Australian male population also.
The ABS found that between 2012-13, 1 in 3 victims of current partner violence were male, and almost 30% of sexual harassment victims were male also.
This data is only the bare minimum of what the ABS has published on their website on this issue, and it really only scrapes the surface of the prominence of this issue in the male community.
Further research by the Taskforce has found that minority communities of Queensland such as those of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander lineage have reported violence in their communities as being so prevalent as to have become normalised.
Unbelievably, the people who live in these communities consider violence, in all its forms, to be a part of ‘everyday’ life.
The lack of support services and poor access to the justice system in these communities compound the violence and make it effectively impossible for victims, who are in most cases, women and children, to escape its grasp.
Understanding the needs of these vulnerable groups is critical if the Queensland Taskforce is to be successful in making cultural changes that will lead to safer homes for these minority populations.
Unfortunately, the available data on this issue holistically around Australia is rather limited for several reasons- the most common being the vast differences in the experiences of different victims. Understandably, these can’t be reflected in the figures, as the duration, scale and severity of each domestic violence incident is almost impossible to quantify and accurately record and compare with other episodes.
The issue of domestic violence branches much deeper than the statistics presented here and there is much further research to be done, however its prevalence in society today has set off alarm bells that something more needs to be done to combat this insidious issue. Strategies to mitigate its dominance as a social issue in Australia are currently being formulated, however there are many channels of support available to victims for now.
Helplines available to those affected include, but are not limited to: Kids Help Line (http://www.kidshelpline.com.au), LifeLine (https://www.lifeline.org.au) and Mensline (https://www.mensline.org.au).
These are all national services that specialise in domestic violence counselling. Help can be provided via email, phone, or on their websites and is available to all genders. Anyone who is a victim of domestic violence or is a witness to domestic violence towards another person can call these confidential helplines for assistance.