At Damien Greer Lawyers, we have over 40 years’ expertise in advising on all aspects of family law. Sadly, this means we have experience in dealing with matters relating to domestic violence, including instances of physical violence, sexual abuse and verbal abuse.
Over the course of the past four decades, we’ve seen huge changes in the way that domestic violence is defined, reported, and experienced.
To show this change, we’ve compiled the latest available domestic violence statistics from both Queensland and Australian sources.
1.0 Domestic Violence Statistics Across Australia
As of 2023, domestic violence in Australia continues to be as problematic and prevalent as ever. Monash University reported that 30 weeks into 2023, Australia was looking likely to finish the year with more than one Australian woman killed in family violence settings each week.
Australian domestic violence statistics do show higher rates of violence, abuse, and murder towards women than men. That being said, men also suffer from alarmingly high rates of abuse.
The most recent data from the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare will be used to summarise Australia’s domestic violence statistics.
1.1 Domestic abuse in Australia (with female victims)
|Type of abuse||% of Australian female victims||Amount of Australian female victims|
|Physical and/or sexual partner violence||16.9%||1.7 million|
|Partner emotional abuse||22.9%||2.3 million|
|Partner economic abuse||16.3%||1.6 million|
|Sexual violence||22%||2.2 million|
Statistics above represent the amount of Australian women who have been victims of these types of domestic abuse since the age of 15.
In a statistic almost beyond belief, over 1 in 5 Australian women have been victims of sexual violence since the age of 15. More specifically, around 1 in 6 Australian women (17%) have been the victim of physical or sexual violence from their partner since that age.
Partner abuse was the most common of the forms of partner abuse surveyed, with nearly 1 in 4 Australian women reporting to have been victims of emotional abuse since the age of 15.
1.2 Domestic abuse in Australia (with male victims)
|Type of abuse||% of Australian male victims||Amount of Australian male victims|
|Physical and/or sexual partner violence||5.5%||527,000|
|Partner emotional abuse||13.8%||1.3 million|
|Partner economic abuse||7.8%||745,000|
Statistics above represent the amount of Australian men who have been victims of these types of domestic abuse since the age of 15.
Domestic abuse toward men was most commonly in the form of emotional abuse. Roughly 1.3 million Australian have reported to have been victims of emotional abuse since the age of 15. 582,000 also reported sexual violence since that age, and another 745,000 had been subject to economic abuse from their partner.
1.3 Domestic abuse in Australia (with child victims)
|Type of abuse||% of Australian child victims|
|Physical abuse by a parent/caregiver||32%|
|Sexual abuse by any person||29%|
|Emotional abuse by a parent/caregiver||31%|
|Neglect by a parent/caregiver||8.9%|
|Exposure to domestic violence||40%|
Statistics above represent the amount of Australian children (surveyed aged over 16) who have been victims of these types of domestic abuse throughout their childhood.
2 of 5 Australians surveyed were exposed to domestic violence throughout their childhood. 32% reported to have been victims of physical abuse themselves by their parent or caregiver, while 31% responded as having experienced emotional abuse by their parents or guardians.
Staggeringly, 29% of Australians surveyed reported that they had been victims of sexual abuse before the age of 16.
2.0 DVO Data Queensland
One unfortunate truth regarding domestic violence is that data can be incomplete. This could be due to events not being reported or being handled between the parties privately.
To ensure our reporting of domestic violence figures is as accurate as possible, we will only rely on data from reputable government sources and the Courts. While this is the most accurate way to gauge Queensland and Australia’s statistics on domestic violence, we acknowledge these data won’t include situations kept outside of the legal system.
2.1 DVO Applications Per Year
|Total DVO Applications||40,689||40,606||37,825||40,813||41,591||47,473|
|Estimated Resident Population in Qld||4,928,374||5,010,502||5,094,718||5,175,003||5,217,653||5,418,453|
|DVO Applications per 1000 Residents||8.26||8.10||7.42||7.89||7.97||8.76|
According to data from the Queensland Courts, rates of DVO applications increased significantly throughout the 2022-23 financial year. Part of this can be attributed to the large increase in Queensland’s population, as shown in data sourced from the Australian Bureau of Statistics. However, when considering the rate of DVO applications per 1,000 residents, 2022-23 clearly shows as a significantly above average year.
2.2 Most Common Magistrates Courts in Queensland for DVO Applications
|Rank||Location||DVO Applications in 2022-23||% Change on 2021-22|
For the third consecutive year, Beenleigh holds the unfortunate title as Queensland’s Magistrates Court with the most DVO applications. Data from Queensland Courts show Beenleigh’s rate of DVO applications increased by 5.4% on the figure from 2021-22. However, this increase was far less than the state’s overall growth in DVO applications, which was 14.1% when compared to 2021-22.
In fact, of the 20 Queensland Magistrates Courts with data available, 19 experienced increases to their annual DVO totals. Caloundra was the only one to decline, moving from 482 DVO applications in 2021-22 to 479 in 2022-23.
2.3 Nature of Relationship Within DVO Application
|Type of Relationship||% of Applications (1 July to 30 Sep 2023)|
Over 70% of DVO applications occurred with the aggrieved (person making the order) and respondent (the person receiving the order) sharing an intimate personal relationship. This would generally indicate they were in a relationship with each other, whether that was casual, dating, de facto, or married.
Another 28% of cases involved parties who were family with each other. This doesn’t include married parties, who would still be recognised as being in an intimate personal relationship. However, this could be a parent and child, an aunty/uncle with their niece/nephew, grandparents and their grandchildren, siblings, etc.
2.4 Domestic Violence Orders Made (Year on Year)
Data from Queensland Courts show the year spanning 1 July 2022 to 30 June 2023 saw over 58,000 DVOs be made across Queensland. That’s substantially more than the capacity of Suncorp Stadium.
This was also the highest figure of any of the previous 5 years.
2.5 DVOs by Gender of Both Aggrieved and Respondent
|Aggrieved||Respondent||% of Orders (1 July to 30 Sep 2022)||% of Orders (1 July to 30 Sep 2023)|
Over 70% of cases of a DVO being made concerned a female aggrieved party (making the order), and a male respondent (receiving the order). This was a significant increase on the rate of female-to-male orders in 2022 – suggesting cases where woman place orders against men are becoming increasingly more common than any other situation.
Females were respondents across roughly 24% of all DVOs made in the first quarter of the 2023-24 period.
3.0 DVO Breach Data in Queensland
It should be noted that, when discussing rises in either orders made or orders breached, no situation can be objectively defined as “good” or “bad”. Rises in breaches recorded may correlated to increased police work, or better protection for the aggrieved. Equally, higher rates of orders made might reflect more efficient courts. Of course, an argument could also be made that higher recorded figures reflects an increase in overall domestic violence.
3.1 Total Breaches of DVOs in Queensland Per Year
Contravene DVO charges are those where the respondent has breached a condition of their DVO. These are recorded in the defendant’s criminal history.
Data from Queensland Courts show that offenses relating to contraventions of DVOs have increased in frequency every year since 2017-18. But the increase in DVO breaches in 2022-23 was incredibly significant – jumping by 21.6% year on year. Along with all other statistics covered so far, these paint a grim picture for the state of domestic violence in Queensland.
3.2 Most Common Magistrate Courts in Queensland for DVO Breach Charges
|Rank||Location||Contravene DVO Charges in 2022-23||% Change on 2021-22|
Again, Beenleigh was named by the Queensland Courts being the Magistrate Court with the highest rates – this time in charges relating to DVO breaches.
And again, a broad increase can be seen across all Magistrates Courts. Of the 20 with data, only Maroochydore had a decrease in the number of DVO breaches from 2021-22 to 2022-23.
3.3 Penalties Imposed for Breaching DVOs in Queensland
|Penalty Imposed||Total Figures (2021-22)||Total Figures (2022-23)||% of Penalties Imposed (2022-23)|
|Community Service Order||289||280||1.3%|
|Custody in the Community||59||54||0.2%|
It should be noted in these results that defendants can be given multiple penalties for one offence. In those cases, Queensland Courts only list the most serious penalty in the results above.
In over a third of penalties imposed during 2022-23 for breaching a DVO in Queensland, the defendant was sentenced to imprisonment/detention. Over 30% more were sentenced to a monetary order. But as mentioned, these 65% of cases may have also included probation, community service, or good behaviour/recognisance.
All statistics correct as of 17/10/2023.