Quick facts about violence against women

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    Violence against women is a serious and widespread problem in Australia.

    But violence against women is also preventable. To prevent violence against women we need to understand it. This page provides information on the prevalence and nature of violence in Australia.

    What is 'violence against women'?

    "Violence against women is any act of gender-based violence that results in, or is likely to result in, physical, sexual or psychological harm or suffering to women, including threats of such acts, coercion or arbitrary deprivation of liberty, whether occurring in public or in private life."

    In Australia, violence against women is called many different things, including domestic violence, family violence, intimate partner violence, coercive control, online abuse, stalking, workplace sexual harassment, street harassment and sexual assault. Our definition includes all these forms of violence against women.

    You can find full definitions in types of violence against women.

    Key statistics on violence against women

    Violence against women is experienced across all communities and cultures. However, its nature, prevalence and risk factors differ within population groups. Below are some key statistics related to the Australian population:

    2 in 5 women (39%) have experienced violence since the age of 15.

    Men are more commonly the perpetrators of physical violence, sexual harassment and sexual violence.

    Women are more likely to experience violence from someone they know than by a stranger (35% vs 11%).

    On average, one woman is killed every nine days by a current or former partner.

    In the year 2021/22, 4,620 women aged 15 years and over (average of 13 women/day) were hospitalised due to family and domestic violence.

    1 in 4 women (27%) has experienced violence, emotional abuse, or economic abuse by a cohabitating partner since the age of 15.

    1 in 3 women (31%) has experienced physical violence since the age of 15.

    1 in 5 women (22%) has experienced sexual violence since the age of 15.

    1 in 2 women (53%) has experienced sexual harassment in their lifetime. In most incidents of workplace sexual harassment, the harasser was male.

    Women are at increased risk of experiencing violence from an intimate partner during pregnancy.

    Women who have experienced violence are more likely to experience multiple incidents of violence.

    Certain people, identities and communities within Australia are at greater risk than others and experience violence that intersects with other forms of discrimination and disadvantage. For example:

    Women with disability in Australia are twice as likely to have experienced sexual violence over their lifetime than women without disabilities. The type of disability can intersect with gender and different forms of violence for example, 1 in 2 women with psychological and/or cognitive impairment has experienced sexual violence.

    Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women experience disproportionally high rates of violence, and are 31 times more likely to be hospitalised due to family violence–related assaults. Anecdotal evidence suggests that non-Indigenous men make up a significant proportion of perpetrators.

    Lesbian, bisexual and queer women experience higher rates of sexual violence than heterosexual women in Australia. Transgender and gender diverse people also experience very high rates of family, domestic and sexual violence.

    Elder abuse often occurs in relationships where there is an expectation of trust such as with family, friends and carers. In 2017-2018, the number of women making calls to elder abuse helplines across Australia exceeded the number of men in every state, with emotional and financial abuse most commonly reported.

    Young women (18–34 years) experience significantly higher rates of physical and sexual violence than women in older age groups.

    In addition to physical and sexual violence, women from migrant and refugee backgrounds are particularly vulnerable to financial abuse, reproductive coercion and immigration related violence, for example withholding documents, threats of visa cancellations or deportation.

    The impact and cost of violence against women

    Violence against women takes a profound and long-term toll on women’s health and wellbeing, on families and communities, and on society as a whole.

    In Australia, intimate partner violence contributes to more death, disability and illness in women aged 25 to 44 than any other preventable risk factor.

    Domestic or family violence is a leading driver of homelessness for women.

    Based on 2015 analysis, violence against women in Australia is costing Australia $21.7 billion each year.

    The impact of violence against women is seen in workplaces as it affects staff retention, presenteeism, absenteeism and morale, while undermining productivity.

    Students who had experienced sexual harassment and/or sexual assault within a university context described detrimental impacts of this violence on their mental health, forming and maintaining meaningful relationships, as well as university attendance, performance, and participation.

    Gender inequality and discrimination

    Gender inequality must be addressed if we are going to prevent violence against women. Gender inequality exists in many forms in Australia. Here are some examples:

    Australia’s gender pay gap is 21.7%. On average, women are paid $26,400 less than men a year.

    While women comprise half (51.1%) of all employed persons in the labour force, women continue to be under-represented in managerial positions across all industries, including female dominated industries. Women hold 19% of chair positions and 34% of board memberships and represent 22% of CEOs and 37% of key management personnel.

    Women of all ages spend over 9 hours a week more than men on unpaid work and care (31.6 hours for women compared to 22.4 hours for men).

    Australian’s attitudinal rejection of gender inequality continues to improve. However, there are still concerning proportions of people whose attitudes undermine women’s leadership, reinforce rigid gender roles, limit women’s personal autonomy, normalise sexism and deny gender inequality is a problem.

    Making progress in Australia

    While violence against women is a problem of epidemic proportions in Australia, it is not inevitable, it is preventable.

    And there have been many signs of progress. For example,

    The National Plan to End Violence against Women and Children 2022-2032 was developed and supported by the Commonwealth, state and territory governments. This plan commits 10 years of action, effort and partnerships for preventing violence against women across Australia.

    There is increasing focus on perpetration and working with men and boys in the prevention of violence against women. Frameworks such as Change the story, Men in focus and the National Plan outline key actions for working with men and boys.

    There is increasing focus on establishing prevention infrastructure to ensure our efforts are effective and lead to long-term social change. Examples of prevention infrastructure include sustained political leadership, policy, regulatory and legislative reform and national monitoring and reporting mechanisms. You can read more about it in Change the story.

    Our Tracking progress in prevention report measures progress towards preventing violence against women in Australia over 10 years. It demonstrates that Australia’s approach to prevention is based on sound evidence, and shows encouraging signs of progress. People working in primary prevention can use the findings to inform their efforts and investments, to help maximise impact and advance progress.

    Taking action

    While progress has been made in Australia, there is much more to do. No one person or organisation can bring about an end to violence. A collective, national effort is needed, by addressing the drivers of violence against women across all areas of society. Individuals, families, communities, organisations and systems (like the legal system) all play a role.

    Learn more about preventing violence against women with Our Watch’s free webinar training.

    For more detailed statistics

    For further facts and statistics please visit the following websites:

    Personal Safety Survey (PSS) from ABS.

    National Community Attitudes Survey (NCAS) by ANROWS.

    This page was last updated in June 2024.

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