Consultation period

7 April 2021 - 5:00 pm To 31 July 2021 - 11:59 pm

Family, domestic and sexual violence in Australia – an overview

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Domestic violence refers to acts of violence that occur between two people who are, or were, in an intimate relationship. It includes physical, sexual, emotional, psychological, financial and technology-facilitated abuse, as well as coercive control. While there is no single definition, the central element of domestic violence is behaviour motivated by gendered drivers of violence that can involve controlling a partner through fear, coercion and intimidation — for example by using behaviour that is violent and threatening.

Family violence refers to violence between family members, as well as between intimate partners. It involves the same sorts of behaviours as described for domestic violence, but includes the broader range of marital and kinship relationships in which violence may occur.

Sexual violence refers to sexual actions without consent. This can include coercion, physical force, and sexual assault, among other related acts. Sexual violence can be perpetrated by a current or previous partner, other people known to the victim, or strangers.

National and international research continues to identify gender inequality as one of the leading contributors to family, domestic and sexual violence (FDSV).

Research also shows that FDSV mainly affects women and children. The 2016 Personal Safety Survey found that approximately one in four women and one in 13 men have experienced physical or sexual violence from an intimate partner since the age of 15.

Since the National Plan to Reduce Violence against Women and their Children was introduced in 2010, the Australian Government has invested more than $1 billion to directly respond to, and prevent FDSV.

Launched in 2019, the Fourth Action Plan is the final action plan under the National Plan and represents a $340 million commitment by the Australian Government to reduce violence against women and their children. This funding has helped to support frontline services, provide safe places and to keep victims safe in their own homes, and work with male victims and alleged perpetrators in family law matters.

In response to COVID-19, the government allocated $130 million in additional funding directly to states and territories through the National Partnership Agreement on COVID-19 Domestic and Family Violence Responses (NPA). This boosted the capacity of services to support women and children who are experiencing or at risk of violence during the pandemic, including vulnerable cohorts, women on temporary visas and remote communities.

For more information on the National Plan and its supporting Implementation and Action Plans, visit the plan4womenssafety website.

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