Department of Family and Community Services

Safety and justice

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The majority of violence against women and girls occurs in their homes, at the hands of men they know.

It is widely acknowledged, most recently by the NSW Legislative Council Standing Committee on Social Issues1 that domestic and family violence (DV) is a gendered crime. Data in the chapter clearly shows that females comprise a significant majority of victims (69 percent) and males a significant majority of perpetrators.

The situation is starker in the case of sexual offences (including sexual assault), where females comprise 83 percent of victims and males are 97 percent of offenders.

The consequences of violence are complex and far-reaching. In the case of domestic and family violence and sexual assault, there is evidence that the psychological, emotional and physical health of victims are seriously affected, with increased risk of depression, anxiety, and attempted suicide, infections, fractures, and other wounds. Victims are more likely to engage in risky behaviours such as increased drug and alcohol use, smoking, and unhealthy eating habits. The effects on children of witnessing or experiencing violence are also considerable.

The economic costs of violence against women are significant. In addition to the impact of violence on victims’ capacity to participate in employment, economic costs are felt by government, where law enforcement, justice, health, social welfare and education services must be targeted at victims and offenders. In 2008-09, the total cost of all violence against women and their children (including non-domestic violence) was estimated to have cost $4.5 billion annually in NSW.2

The data presented in this chapter provides an overview of women’s experiences of safety in NSW in different contexts: in families and households, in the community and in workplaces. The chapter also presents data about the criminal justice system, women offenders, and women in prison. A focus topic on new research by the NSW Bureau of Crime Statistics and Research (BOCSAR) on under-reporting of domestic violence assault is also included.


1 New South Wales Parliament Legislative Council Standing Committee on Social Issues (2012) Domestic violence trends and issues in NSW.

2 Audit Office of NSW (2011) NSW Auditor-General’s Report, Performance Audit: Responding to Domestic and Family Violence.