The most recent crime statistics show a small increase in the number of recorded assaults that are domestic violence related. Between January 2009 and December 2013 the increase is 1.9%. This is in contrast to the number of assaults that are non-domestic violence related which are down by 4.5%.
However, these statistics may mask the reality faced by many women in relationships that are characterised by violence. In 2013, more than 27,000 domestic assaults were reported to NSW police – an average of 94 assaults per day. Also, it is believed that up to half of all incidents go unreported.
The problem is worse in regional and rural NSW. In Walgett, for example, the rate of domestic violence is eight times the NSW rate and in Bourke it is 11.6 times the NSW rate. (Source: 'Domestic violence: NSW hits 15-year peak' by Rachel Olding, The Age, 12 April 2014 – the article includes a useful interactive chart detailing the anatomy of domestic violence in NSW.)
Recent media reports about domestic violence in NSW
- 'Push for defence for women who kill violent men' by Amy Corderoy, SMH, 9 March 2014
- 'Revealed: The women we fail' by Nick Ralston, Amy Corderoy & Inga Ting, SMH, 8 March 2014
New legislation to commence on 20 May 2014
The Crimes (Domestic and Personal Violence) Amendment Bill 2013 which will amend the Crimes (Domestic and Personal Violence) Act 2007 was passed at the end of 2013 and will commence on 20 May 2014. The amendments will enable senior police officers to issue provisional apprehended domestic violence orders, expand police powers to give directions or detain a person for the purpose of serving a provisional apprehended domestic violence order on them, and provide a number of safeguards to that person. For more details about the background to the introduction of this Bill see our earlier blog post 'Reforming domestic violence in NSW'.
Non-legal remedies and domestic violence
However, it is also non-legal remedies that women need to help them when they are living in a violent relationship. If they decide to leave, finding a safe place to live is critical. Esie, Australia’s first women’s refuge was opened in 1974. It has just celebrated its fortieth birthday. There are now over 300 women’s shelters across Australia. For more details about the history of Elsie see '40 years of Elsie' by Mandy Sayer, SMH, 12 April 2014.
Shelters such as Elsie are critical for many many women who want to escape their violent partners. Unfortunately, domestic violence shelters such as Elsie face risk of closure. See:
- 'Domestic violence shelter at risk of closing under NSW reforms' by Elizabeth Jackson, The World Today, ABC News, 24 April 2014
- 'Fears funds cut will leave homeless women without shelter' by Amy Corderoy, SMH, 12 April 2014
More about domestic and family violence on our research guides:
- Crime: HSC Legal Studies - domestic violence
- Preliminary Part I: HSC Legal Studies – Law Reform in Action – domestic violence in NSW