Violence against women in the ACT

Violence against women Information Sheet [PDF 413KB]

This information sheet provides an outline of how violence affects women and ACT Government strategies to address the issue.

What does ‘violence against women’ mean?

The United Nations Declaration on the Elimination of Violence against Women (1993) defines violence against women as:
‘any act of gender-based violence that results in, or is likely to result in, physical, sexual or psychological harm or suffering to women, including threats of such acts, coercion or arbitrary deprivation of liberty, whether occurring in public or in private life.’

Why does violence against women happen?

Key determinants include:

  • the unequal power relations between men and women
  • social norms and practices about violence in general
  • a lack of access to resources and systems of support.


What do the figures say?

Domestic Violence Crisis Service reported in their 2012 Annual Report that between 1988 - April 2012, 61 women, nine men and two children known by the Service lost their lives as a result of domestic violence in the ACT.

It is estimated that as many as one in three Australian women have experienced physical violence and almost one in five Australian women have experienced sexual violence from the age of 15 years.

While these figures may sound high, research suggests that the real incidence of domestic violence and sexual assault is under recorded, as many women fear reporting incidents to police.

The 2012 National Personal Safety Survey conducted by the ABS found that in the ACT that in the previous 12 months:

  • 6.3% (8,900) of women had experienced violence
  • Women with a disability or long term health condition were 3% more likely to experience violence than other women. The more profound or severe the disability the more likely they were to experience violence.

AFP data from 2013-2014 shows that:

  • Of the 274 incidents of sexual assault, including sexual related offences reported to Police, 55 (20%) occurred in a domestic and family violence context.
  • 33 % of all reported assaults were family violence related a 1% increase from the previous year.
  • Women between the ages of 25-35 are proportionally the highest identified age group at 6.7%.


What are the impacts for women?

Domestic and family violence impacts women’s abilities to work and to look for work because of trauma and fear for their safety at work. They also have a greater risk of developing health problems including stress, anxiety and depression.

Domestic and family violence is the number one reason why women turn to homelessness services.

  • In 2013- 2014, Canberra Rape Crisis Centre (CRCC) received 15,315* crisis calls a 29% increase from 2012-13.
  • In 2014 the Domestic Violence Crisis Service responded to 15,109* requests for service. 84.5% were women.

*NOTE: This is the number of calls not the number of individuals.

  • In 2014 Women’s Legal Service reported that 63% of women seeking family law court assistance were experiencing domestic or family violence.

ACT Government provided funding to the above organisations to support women and children that have experienced violence in our community.


Important Numbers:

  • ACT Police 000
  • Domestic Violence Crisis Service 62800 900
  • Canberra Rape Crisis Centre
    6247 2525
  • Women’s Legal Service 6257 4499
  • Women’s Information 6205 1076

Changing Community attitudes

The 2013 National Community Attitudes towards Violence Against Women survey found that attitudes that condone or tolerate violence have a central role in shaping the way individuals, organisations and communities respond to violence. While the majority of Australians have high awareness of the issue of domestic violence and do not endorse attitudes that are supportive of violence, 78% could not understand why women stayed in violence relationships.

More than three in five Australians see violence against women as primarily due to men not being able to manage their anger, and not because of unequal power and control in a relationship.


ACT Government Initiatives - responding to violence against women

The ACT Prevention of Violence against Women and Children Strategy 2011-2017-Our responsibility Ending violence against women and children involves the whole community in upholding and respecting the rights of women and children to live free from fear and experience of violence.

The strategy provides overarching principles to guide violence prevention activities across government and non-government agencies and provide flexible and targeted responses to women and children experiencing violence.

The ACT Government provides over $5.5 million in 2014-15 towards the prevention of, and response to domestic and family and sexual violence. It also funds a range of specialised accommodation and outreach services for women who are escaping domestic or family violence situations.

A list of the programs and services funded by the ACT Government is available in ACT Directorate’s Annual Reports.

ACT Prevention of Violence against Women and Children Strategy 2011-2017 Australian Bureau of Statistics - Personal Safety, Australia, 2012, Cat. No. 4906.0
Anrows- Australia’s National research Organisation for Women’s Saftey
2014 Annual Reports-Canberra Rape Crisis Centre, 2012 and 2014 Domestic Violence Crisis Centre and 2014 Women’s Legal Service
PROMIS as at 20 October 2014, Performance Evaluation and Review