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This report is the first population-representative study on family violence in the state of Victoria. It is based on the responses of 33,654 randomly selected adults aged 18 years or older to five questions, included for the first time in the 2017 Victorian Population Health Survey (VPHS).

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.

The report investigates the prevalence of family violence, who experienced family violence, the frequency of its occurrence, the type of family violence experienced, the services accessed in response to family violence, and the knowledge of the general population about where to get outside advice or support for family violence.

Summary of key findings

In Victoria, 5.4% of adults experienced family violence in the two years preceding the survey and a further 4.9% of adults refused to answer the questions on family violence.

Family violence by sub-population

Women, adults who identified as Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander, adults who identified as LGBTIQ+, and adults who were born in Australia were over-represented among those who experienced family violence.

Family violence by socioeconomic status

Family violence occurs among adults regardless of socioeconomic status. However, there was a socioeconomic gradient where the lower the socioeconomic status, the higher the prevalence of family violence. For example, 10.0% of adults who had a total annual household income of less than $20,000 experienced family violence compared with 3.0% of adults with a household income of $100,000 or more.

Contact with services in response to family violence

Overall, just over 1-in-5 women (20.9%) and close to 1-in-3 men (30.9%) did not access or have contact with a service in response to family violence.

Knowledge of overall population about where to get outside help in response to family violence

Just over 1-in-5 women (20.9%) and close to 1-in-4 men (23.0%) did not know where to get outside advice or support for family violence.

Family violence by health status

Adults who experienced family violence had poorer mental and physical health than those who did not. For example, 2-in-3 women (66.67%) and 1-in-3 men (36.4%) who experienced family violence had been diagnosed with depression or anxiety, compared with 31.3% of women and 20.7% of men who did not experience family violence.

For more information, or to speak to VAHI’s Health Intelligence Unit, email health.intelligence@vahi.vic.gov.au.

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Page last updated: 11 Oct 2021

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