Impacts of domestic violence: Bryce taskforce

Impacts of domestic violence: Bryce taskforce

The Bryce task force set out the impacts of domestic and family violence:

At the extreme end of domestic and family violence is homicide. The National Homicide Monitoring Program reported that, between 2010-11 and 2011-12, 39%, or 187 of the 479 homicides in Australia, were domestic homicides, with 58% of these being intimate partner homicides.35 Nearly two-thirds of domestic homicides were women (n = 121, 62%). Overall, 76% of all female homicide victims killed throughout 2010-11 and 2011–12 were killed by an offender with whom they shared an intimate partner relationship, while a greater number of male homicide victims were killed by a friend or an acquaintance (81%).36
In Queensland, the Domestic and Family Violence Death Review Unit reports that approximately 45% of all homicides between 1 January 2006 and 31 December 2012 occurred within an intimate partner or family relationship.37 Factoring in multiple homicides, a total of 167 offenders were responsible for these deaths. Of these, 82.03% (n=137) were male, 15.57% were female (n=26) and 2.4% (n=4) of the incidents involved both a female and male offender.
During this time period, 56.67% (n=102) of deaths occurred within an intimate partner relationship. This includes people who were married, in a de-facto relationship, people who had a child together, or who resided together as a couple. This category also covers people engaged to be married as well as couples that were separated or divorced.
Of the total number of domestic and family violence related deaths, women were more likely to be killed in an intimate partner relationship, whereas men had a higher propensity to be killed within a family relationship. Of the total number of deceased killed within an intimate partner relationship, 79.41% (n=81) were female and 20.59% (n=21) were male. Three deceased males were killed by their male intimate partner whereas all female deceased were killed by a current or former male partner.
The Domestic and Family Violence Death Review Unit defines family relationships as those between people who are related either biologically or through marriage including parents, children, siblings, cousins, aunts, uncles, or nephews. Between 1 January 2006 and 31 December 2013, 38.89% (n=70) of deaths occurred within a family relationship. Of the total number of people killed within this type of relationship, 42.86% (n=30) were female and 57.14% (n=40) were male.

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Health impacts
Domestic and family violence has significant, and often long-term, impacts on health and wellbeing. Internationally, the World Health Organisation’s 2013 report on the prevalence and health effects of intimate partner violence and non-partner sexual violence found that violence against women is pervasive globally, describing it as “a global public health problem of epidemic proportions, requiring urgent action”.38


In Australia, the Victorian Health Promotion Foundation researched the health burden of intimate partner violence in Victoria. It found this type of violence contributes to 9% of the total disease burden of women aged 15 to 44 years. Of this total disease burden, 60% was due to mental health problems. Intimate partner violence was the leading contributor to illness, disability,
and premature death for this group, over and above other known risk factors of obesity, high cholesterol, high blood pressure, and illicit drug use.39
Family violence has a significant impact on the short and long-term health and welfare of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander individuals, families and communities. The Overcoming Indigenous Disadvantage Key Indicators 2014 Report revealed that in 2012-13, after adjusting for different population age structures, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander hospitalisations for non- fatal family violence-related assaults for females were 34.2 times the rate for non-Indigenous females and for Indigenous males were 28.3 times higher the rate for non-Indigenous males.40
It is estimated that more than one million Australian children are affected by domestic and family violence.41 Children are affected by both the direct and indirect experiences of violence in a range of ways: through hearing or otherwise witnessing the violence; being used as a physical weapon; being forced to watch or participate in assaults; being forced to spy on a parent; being informed that they are to blame for the violence because of their behaviour; being used as a hostage; defending a parent against the violence; and/or intervening to stop the violence.42
Children can suffer serious negative impacts on their emotional wellbeing, health, ability to learn and ability to develop positive relationships with others. Psychological and behavioural impacts have been documented:


  • »  Depression
  • »  Anxiety
  • »  Trauma symptoms
  • »  Increased aggression
  • »  Antisocial behaviour
  • »  Lower social competence
  • »  Temperament problems
  • »  Low self-esteem
» The presence of pervasive fear » Mood problems
» Loneliness
» School difficulties
» Peer conflict
» Impaired cognitive functioning
» Increased likelihood of substance abuse.43
Domestic and family violence is the major cause of homelessness in Australia.44 The Australian Institute of Health and Welfare Specialist Homelessness Services Annual Report 2013-2014 collected data found that an estimated 84,774 adults and children (33% of all clients) sought assistance as a result of family or domestic violence. This was an increase of 9% from 2012-13, including an increase of 14% in the number of children experiencing family or domestic violence. The highest proportion of clients requesting assistance for domestic and family violence were living as a single parent household (with a child or children) (46%) and at risk of homelessness when first presenting for support (60%).45
Indigenous people represented 23% of those accessing specialist homelessness services in 2013-14.46 Among Indigenous people who sought Specialist Homelessness Services, 22% reported domestic and family violence as their main reason for seeking assistance.47
Economic impacts
In 2012, KPMG estimated violence against women and their children cost $USD 14.7 billion or roughly 1.1% of Australia’s GDP, based on the prevalence of reported violence.48
The Queensland Government estimates that the annual cost of domestic and family violence to the Queensland economy is between $2.7 and $3.2 billion.49
In 2009, KPMG prepared a report for the Commonwealth Government that set out the costs, both financial and non-financial, that would be incurred by doing nothing to reduce or prevent violence against women and their children. The report set out seven cost categories including:

  1. Pain, suffering, and premature mortality costs associated with the victims/survivors experience of violence
  2. Health costs, including public and private health system costs associated with treating the effects of violence against women
  3. Production-related costs, including the cost of being absent from work, and employer administrative costs (for example, employee replacement)
  4. Consumption-related costs, including replacing damaged property, defaulting on bad debts, and the costs of moving
  5. Second generation costs which are the costs of children witnessing and living with violence, including child protection services and increased juvenile and adult crime
  6. Administrative and other costs, including police, incarceration, court system costs, counselling, and violence prevention programs
  7. Transfer costs, which are the inefficiencies associated with the payment of government benefits.50 
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