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Violence

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:

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.


In 2019, 29 people in WA were killed due to an assault-related injury. Infographics
In 2020, there were 22,933 cases of family-related assaults and 12,531 non-family related assaults reported to the police in WA. Infographics
1 in 4 women report having experienced emotional abuse by a current or previous partner since the age of 15, with 1 in 6 men having been affected. Infographics

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

Gender

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

Socioeconomic status

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

Alcohol use

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

Disability

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

Effective Interventions

Legislation

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

State Election Priorities 2021

Read

Violence Injuries in WA Factsheet

Download

Violence Resource Kit

Download

Violence Factsheet

Download

Firearm-Related Injury Factsheet

Download

Other Resources

AIHW, Family, domestic and sexual violence in Australia: continuing the national story 2019

Australian Research Alliance for Children & Youth, Preventing youth violence. What does and doesn’t work and why?

Our Watch, Changing the picture; a national resource to support the prevention of violence against Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women and their children

Our Watch, Change the story: A shared framework for the primary prevention of violence against women in Australia.

Our Watch, How to report on violence against women and their children

Our Watch, Prevention toolkit for Local Governments

Royal Perth Hospital, Admissions to Royal Perth Hospital related to domestic and family violence 2010 – 2019

Royal Perth Hospital, Admissions to Royal Perth Hospital with injuries from assaults 2009 – 2019

WA Department of Child Protection, Western Australia’s Family and Domestic Violence Prevention Strategy to 2022

WA Department of Communities, WA Strategy to Respond to the Abuse of Older People (Elder Abuse) 2019-2029

WA Department of Communities, Path to Safety: Western Australia’s strategy to reduce family and domestic violence 2020 – 2030

WALGA, Family and Domestic Violence – the role of Local Governments Discussion Paper

WHO, Violence prevention the evidence

WHO, Global status report on violence prevention

References

  1. Definition and Typology of Violence. (2015). Violence Prevention Alliance: World Health Organization, retrieved from http://www.who.int/violenceprevention/approach/definition/en/
  2. 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.
  3. 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
  4. World Health Organization. Violence against women. Violence against women https://www.who.int/news-room/fact-sheets/detail/violence-against-women (2021).
  5. 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).
  6. Coomber, K. et al. The Role of Illicit Drug Use in Family and Domestic Violence in Australia. J Interpers Violence 36, NP8247–NP8267 (2021).
  7. 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).
  8. 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).
  9. 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).
  10. 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).
  11. Department of Health, Western Australia. Injury prevention in Western Australia: A review of statewide activity. Perth; Chronic Disease Prevention Directorate, Department of Health. 2015.

Find out more

The Know Injury program is provided by Injury Matters and funded by the WA Department of Health.