If you or someone you know is currently experiencing any form of violence, it is important to speak out and talk to someone you trust so that they can help you. To speak to a trained mental health professional for immediate support, contact:
- 1800RESPECT (1800 737 732)
- Lifeline (13 11 14)
- Men’s Domestic Violence Helpline (9223 1199 or 1800 000 599)
- Women’s Domestic Violence Helpline (9223 1188 or 1800 007 339)
If you, or someone else, is at immediate risk of harm contact emergency services on 000.
The information included on this page covers different types of violence and assists in highlighting the incidence within WA. Injury Matters recognises that behind every person impacted by violence, friends or family may also be affected as seeing their loved ones go through traumatic experiences is confronting and highly emotional.
Definition of assault
Violence is “the intentional use of physical force or power, threatened or actual, against oneself, another person, or against a group or community that either results in or has a high likelihood of resulting in injury, death, psychological harm, maldevelopment, or deprivation”.1
Impact of assault on Western Australia
Who does it impact?
In Western Australia between 2015 and 2019 there were:2
- 17,134 hospitalisations due to assault,
- 56.8% percent of hospitalisations for assault were male, and
- people aged 25 – 44 had the highest incidence of hospitalisations due to assault.
In Western Australia Aboriginal peoples make up 3.1% of the population, however between 2011 and 2015 45.83% of assault hospitalisations were Aboriginal peoples.2,3
Where does it occur?
In Western Australia between 2015 and 2019, the regions with the largest difference to the WA State hospitalisation rate for assault were the Kimberley (1,282% higher), Pilbara (225% higher) and Midwest (122% higher).2
Impact on health system
In Western Australia in 2019, there were 3,474 hospitalisations for assault, consuming an estimated 15,668 bed days at an approximate cost of $22,481,266.2
Determinants of assault
The Fourth Action Plan of the National Plan to Reduce Violence against Women and their Children highlights a number of key attitudes and behaviours relating to gender that influence violence against women, including; condoning of violence against women, limiting women’s independence and stereotyped constructions of masculinity and femininity.4
Experience of colonisation and racism
Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people experience disproportionally higher rates of family violence, with the level and impact being more severe than that of non-Indigenous communities.5 Systemic discrimination, racism and intergenerational trauma experienced in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities influences how communities experience violence, how they access health services and their experience with health service providers.5
Economic and social disadvantage are associated with high rates of violence, social marginalisation, unemployment, lack of access to health services and educational opportunities.4 The combination of economic insecurity and unhealthy coping strategies can lead to stress, triggering conflict, arguments and interpersonal violence.4
Evidence suggests that excessive alcohol use can impair a person’s ability to resolve conflicts, increase risk-taking behaviour, lessen awareness of the possible consequences of anti-social behaviour, therefore increasing the chances of physical violence.6,7 Studies have also indicated that high alcohol outlet density and availability is associated with increased incidence of domestic violence.8
Research suggests that the high rates of violence among people with a disability can be attributed to a range of factors, such as; low levels of employment, high rates of person support required for daily living, discrimination and reduced physical and emotional defences.9
In Australia, intentionally causing physical harm to another person is illegal. To protect people at risk of family and domestic violence, Police Orders, Violence Restraining Orders and Misconduct Restraining Orders can be enforced.
Western Australian example: Various pieces of legislation cover violence. The Domestic and Family Violence Protection Act 2012 and the Criminal Code Act Compilation Act 1913 are two examples of the broad range of legislations covering violence. Western Australia is also subject to strict firearm laws under the Firearm Act 1973.
Community campaigns and programs
Community initiatives and awareness campaigns that aim to change cultural expectations and social norms that promote violence, such as gender equality messages to protect women, are a valuable intervention to reduce violence.10
Western Australian example: The national primary prevention campaign “Stop it at the Start” aims to reset the attitudes of young people by targeting the adult influencers in their life. It encourages parents, family members, teachers, coaches and other community role models to reflect on their own attitudes and have conversations around respectful relationships and gender equality with young people.
Relationship support groups
Developing safe, stable and nurturing relationships between children and caregivers may be protective against violence.11
Western Australian example: The Fathering Project is a Western Australian-based organisation that aims to develop healthy and stable relationships between fathers and other male caregivers and sons by providing online resources and running support groups.
Organisations and programs in Western Australia
Injury Matters Assault Resources
- Definition and Typology of Violence. (2015). Violence Prevention Alliance: World Health Organization, retrieved from http://www.who.int/violenceprevention/approach/definition/en/
- Data generated using HealthTracks Reporting, by the Epidemiology Branch, WA Department of Health in collaboration with the Cooperative Research Centre for Spatial Information (CRC-SI), March 2021.
- Australian Bureau of Statistics 2016, ‘Western Australia, People’, viewed 5 September 2017, www.censusdata.abs.gov.au/census_services/getproduct/census/2016/quickstat/5?opendocument
- World Health Organization. Violence against women. Violence against women https://www.who.int/news-room/fact-sheets/detail/violence-against-women (2021).
- Australia & Department of Social Services. Fourth Action Plan – National Plan to Reduce Violence against Women and their Children 2010-2022. (Dept. of Social Services, Commonwealth of Australia, 2019).
- Coomber, K. et al. The Role of Illicit Drug Use in Family and Domestic Violence in Australia. J Interpers Violence 36, NP8247–NP8267 (2021).
- Leonard, K. E. & Quigley, B. M. Thirty years of research show alcohol to be a cause of intimate partner violence: Future research needs to identify who to treat and how to treat them: Alcohol and intimate partner violence. Drug and Alcohol Review 36, 7–9 (2017).
- Taylor, N. et al. A mapping review of evaluations of alcohol policy restrictions targeting alcohol-related harm in night-time entertainment precincts. International Journal of Drug Policy 62, 1–13 (2018).
- Krnjacki, L., Emerson, E., Llewellyn, G. & Kavanagh, A. M. Prevalence and risk of violence against people with and without disabilities: findings from an Australian population‐based study. 40, 16–21 (2016).
- Australian Government. Stop it at the Start campaign – National Plan to Reduce Violence against Women and their Children. Stop it at the Start Campaign https://plan4womenssafety.dss.gov.au/initiative/stop-it-at-the-start-campaign/ (2021).
- Department of Health, Western Australia. Injury prevention in Western Australia: A review of statewide activity. Perth; Chronic Disease Prevention Directorate, Department of Health. 2015.