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.
Get informed with these key facts on the problem.
What is “violence against women”?
Violence against women is any act of gender-based violence that causes or could cause physical, sexual or psychological harm or suffering to women, including threats of harm or coercion, in public or in private life.
— UN Declaration
In Australia, violence against women is called many different things, including domestic violence, family violence, intimate partner violence, coercive control, workplace sexual harassment, street harassment and sexual assault. Our definition includes all these forms of violence against women.
You can find the full definitions in the glossary of Change the story.
Key statistics on violence against women in Australia
- On average, one woman a week is murdered by her current or former partner.1
- 1 in 3 women (30.5%) has experienced physical violence since the age of 15.2
- 1 in 5 women (18%) has experienced sexual violence since the age of 15.3
- 1 in 3 women (31.1%) has experienced physical and/or sexual violence perpetrated by a man they know.4
- 1 in 4 women (23%) has experienced physical or sexual violence by a current or former intimate partner since age 15.5
- 1 in 4 women (23%) has experienced emotional abuse by a current or former partner since the age of 15.6
- 1 in 2 women (53%) has experienced sexual harassment in their lifetime.7
- Women are nearly three times more likely than men to experience violence from an intimate partner.8
- Almost 10 women a day are hospitalised for assault injuries perpetrated by a spouse or domestic partner.9
- Almost one in 10 women (9.4%) have experienced violence by a stranger since the age of 15.10
- Young women (18–34 years) experience significantly higher rates of physical and sexual violence than women in older age groups.11
- There is evidence that women with disability are more likely to experience violence.12 For example, women with disabilities in Australia are around two times more likely than women without disabilities to have experienced sexual violence and intimate partner violence.13
- 1 in 5 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women aged 15 and over has experienced physical violence in a 12-month period. 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.14
- The intersections of homo-, bi- and transphobia with the gendered drivers of violence against women means that lesbian, bisexual and trans women can experience additional, unique forms of violence as a result of their gender identity and/or sexual orientation, including threats of ‘outing’ or shaming (connected to sexual orientation, gender identity or HIV status), or, for those who are HIV-positive or taking hormones to affirm their gender, withholding of hormones or medication.15
- In 2017-2018, the number of women making calls to elder abuse helplines across Australia exceeded the number of men, with emotional and financial abuse most commonly reported.16
- Migrant and refugee women can be subjected to forms of violence that relate to their uncertain citizenship, where perpetrators threaten them with deportation or withhold access to passports, and can also be subject to violence from an extended range of perpetrators, including in-laws and siblings.17
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.
- While the rates of hospitalisation for assault for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people fluctuate, in 2018-2019, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women had 29 times the rate of hospitalisation for non-fatal family violence assaults when compared with non-Indigenous women.18
- Based on 2015 analysis, violence against women in Australia is costing Australia $21.7 billion each year.19
- Women who experience partner violence during pregnancy are three times as likely to experience depression.20
- Domestic or family violence is a leading driver of homelessness for women.21
Key stats on gender inequality and other forms of discrimination and disadvantage
- Australia’s full-time gender pay gap is 14.2%, with women earning on average $261.50 per week less than men. 22
- On average, women spend nearly 32 hours a week on household labour and caring for children, compared with nearly 19 hours by men.23
- While women comprise almost half (47.4%) of all employed persons in the labour force, women continue to be under-represented in traditionally male-dominated industries, and in managerial positions across industries. Women hold 14.6% of chair positions and 28.1% of directorships, and represent 18.3% of CEOs and 32.5% of key management personnel.24
- In 2018, only 35% of Australians who have witnessed workplace sexual harassment in the previous 5 years took some form of action.25
- In 2018, 19% of the Australian population reported have experienced racist or xenophobic discrimination in the previous 12 months.26