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Domestic and Family Violence

Domestic and Family Violence

Advice on legislation or legal policy issues contained in this paper is provided for use in parliamentary debate and for related parliamentary purposes. This paper is not professional legal opinion.
Briefing Paper No 5/2015 by Christopher Angus
Domestic and family violence, aptly described as “intimate brutality”, is an all too common crime in NSW, as it is in Australia generally.

Nowhere is free of this crime, no country, city or region. Owing to lack of reporting by victims its true prevalence is unknown, but existing statistics show that a significant proportion of Australians, primarily but not exclusively women, suffer violence at the hands of a partner. Tragically, according to Linda Burney, NSW Labor’s Deputy Leader, in the western region of NSW the prevalence of domestic and family violence is “past a state of emergency”.

Reducing domestic and family violence is once again on the agenda in NSW and the rest of Australia. This is evident from the awarding of the 2015 Australian of the Year to Rosie Batty, herself a survivor of such violence.

Some key findings in the paper include:
    · Nearly 1.93 million Australians over the age of 15 years have experienced violence at the hands of a current or previous partner;
    · In 2010, 69.2% of NSW domestic assault victims were female and 30.8% were male;
    · Domestic and family violence contributes to death, ill health and disability amongst women aged under 45 more than any other factor; and
    · The NSW economy lost $4.5 billion as a result of domestic and family violence in 2011.

As in any public policy debate, a key issue relates to the question of resources. Good intentions and legal or administrative reforms are one thing. Will they be backed by sufficient resources for women’s refuges, legal and referral services for victims, and educational programs for perpetrators?

For victims of domestic and family violence there is an urgent need to act on the practical issues at stake.