VAHI recently released the population health report: Family violence in Victoria. The report is based on findings from the 2017 Victorian Population Health Survey, and marks the first time that population-representative research on family violence has been undertaken in Victoria.
Prior to this report, data on family violence primarily came from national surveys and administrative data collections for services such as police, hospitals and emergency departments. However, administrative data collections only capture victims of family violence who come into contact with the service for which the data collection exists. That is where surveys such as the Victorian Population Health survey are particularly valuable, as they capture and report at a population level, including those who do not come into contact with services.
This report was produced in the wake of the Royal Commission into Family Violence, which completed its work in 2016 and made 227 recommendations. The purpose of the Royal Commission was to find solutions to prevent family violence, better support victim survivors and hold perpetrators accountable.
Family violence consists of coercive and abusive behaviours by a person towards a family member of that person that are designed to control, intimidate, humiliate, undermine and isolate, resulting in fear and insecurity. Such behaviours include, but are not limited to, physical, sexual, emotional, financial and spiritual abuse.
Key findings of the report include:
- 5.4% of adults in Victoria—approximately 260,000 people—experienced family violence in the two years preceding the survey interview, although this number is likely to be an underestimate of the true prevalence as many people are afraid to discuss family violence.
- Women were more likely than men to have experienced family violence, including financial, emotional, physical, spiritual and sexual abuse, and to do so repeatedly rather than as an isolated event.
- Almost one in five women (20.9%) and just over one in three men (30.9%) did not access a service in response to family violence.
- Adults who identified as Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander, LGBTIQ+, and were born in Australia were over-represented among victims of family violence.
- Victims of family violence experience poorer physical and mental health. Of particular note was the finding that 2 in 3 women (66.7%) and 1 in 3 men (36.4%) who experienced family violence had been diagnosed by a doctor with depression or anxiety.
Family violence is a complex problem requiring government and all other sectors of society to work together to create innovative and practical solutions. The research helps the sector to develop solutions by providing a comprehensive picture of family violence in Victoria. This includes identifying who is at risk, the types of violence experienced and how often, the services accessed or that an adult who experienced family violence had contact with, and the level of general knowledge of all adults Victorians on where to obtain outside help and support for family violence.
You can find more key findings and the full report here.
For more information, please contact Alison Markwick, Health Intelligence Unit, via firstname.lastname@example.org.