02b Australian Violent Crime


The Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) conducts crime victimization surveys on an irregular basis as well as contributing to the ICVS.  In addition, the various State and Territory authorities collect, collate and analyse data related to crimes for which a perpetrator has been identified, charged and convicted.  Data are also collected from victims of crime, such as following robberies.  For example, in New South Wales, the Bureau of Crime Statistics and Research produces comprehensive regular reports on different types of crimes, locations, convicted perpetrators and victim characteristics.

Rates of victimization in 2003 were higher for household crime than for personal victimization: 17% of Australians were victimized once or more during 2003 with 9% the victim of a personal crime (Johnson, 2005, p.2).  Theft from motor vehicles was the most frequent crime, followed by burglary and attempted burglary (ibid).  There appears to have been an overall decline in many forms of crime - and of fear of crime - in Australia over the period 2000 to 2004 (Johnson, 2005, p.5).  However, the rate of assault has increased significantly in recent years, as has the incidence of burglary, robbery and motor vehicle theft.

Geographical and regional differences

There are marked variations between geographical and socio-economic areas/suburbs with higher rates of personal crime reported from many regional towns and localities.  For example, firearms-related violence is greater in rural and remote areas.  Similarly, both Caucasian and Indigenous women are at increased risk of domestic violence in rural and remote parts of Australia (Maskell-Knight, 2002, p. 4, 12).  In NSW the figures for the 12 months of 2006 are stark: people living in rural and remote town are at far greater risk of assault, domestic violence-related assault, sexual offences and break and enter of their dwellings.  For example, assault rates per 100,000 population were highest in the Local Government Areas of Bourke, Walgatt, Coonamble, Moree Plains and Bogan respectively (BOCSAR, 2006a).  Interestingly, ‘stealing from a person’ offences showed a quite different pattern with Waverley, Burwood, Botany Bay, Manly and Byron respectively recording the highest rate per 100,000 population (BOCSAR, 2006b).

Particular places or crime ‘hot spots’ exist, including specific businesses (e.g. in busy commercial streets with numerous entertainment and licensed premises), outside licensed premises (especially hotels) and particular neighborhoods (such as Kings Cross and Darlinghurst in Sydney) and specific times of day or night.  For example, there is extensive evidence of a link between licensed premises and alcohol-related assault and robbery; a risk that can be increased on Friday and Saturday nights (see, for example, Briscoe and Donnelly, 2001a and 2001b).


  • Across Australia, the homicide rate is about 1.8 per 100,000 people in the population.  The incidence of homicide has remained stable over the past 17 years.  For example, in 2005/06 across all Australia there were 283 incidents of homicide committed by 336 perpetrators that resulted in 301 victims (Davies and Mouzos, 2007, p. 1). 
  • There are marked gender variations.  Victims are disproportionately male (61%) and commonly young adults aged under 34 - although many are under one year old.  Perpetrators are markedly and disproportionately male (89%) with many aged between 15 and 24. 
  • Over 80% of homicides involve people who knew each other, with females most commonly killed following a domestic dispute.
  • 57% of homicides occur in residential locations (Graycar and Mouzos, 2002, p.3).


  • The assault rate is about 736 per 100,000 population.  However, the risk of being assaulted has grown by about 7% each year between 1995 and 2000 – an increase that is six times that of the annual population growth
  • There are gender variations.  Victims are more commonly male (57%) and aged 15 to 24.  Females are more likely to be assaulted at home (58%) than are male victims (28%) (Graycar and Mouzos, 2002, p.4).

Sexual assault

  • The sexual assault rate is about 81 per 100,000 population.
  • Victimisation via sexual assault is more common among females (79%) and particularly females under age 25 (71%).  Of note, at least 61% knew their perpetrator with 67% of sexual assaults occurring in residential locations (Graycar and Mouzos, 2002, p.4).