How prevalent is domestic and family violence in Australia?

In Australia, approximately one woman is killed by her current or former partner every week, often after a history of domestic and family violence

  • 34% of women have experienced physical violence since the age of 15.
  • 17% of women have experienced violence from a current or former partner since the age of 15 (compared to 5.3% of men).
  • 30% of respondents to a 2011 survey on domestic and family violence and the workplace reported they had experienced violence, and 5% of those respondents had experienced violence in the last 12 months.

Why is domestic and family violence a workplace issue?

Domestic and family violence is not just a private or personal issue. When an employee is living with domestic and family violence, there are often very real costs and negative impacts that flow to the workplace.

Health costs: In Australia, intimate partner violence is the leading contributor to death, disability and illness in women aged 15 to 44 years. It is responsible for more of the disease burden in women than many other well-known risk factors, such as smoking and obesity.

Economic costs: In 2002/03 the cost of intimate partner violence to the Australian economy was estimated at $8.1 billion. If no preventative action is taken, this cost is projected to rise to $9.9 billion annually by 2021/22. $235 million of this $9.9 billion will be borne by employers and $609 million will be borne in production-related losses.

Workplace costs: Within the population of women who have experienced violence, or are currently experiencing violence, the Australian Bureau of Statistics estimates that between 55% and 70% are currently in the workforce– that is, approximately 800,000 women, or around one in six female workers. This means that a significant number of Australian workplaces will be impacted by women’s experiences of domestic and family violence.

Some common costs and impacts include:

  • Decreased staff performance and productivity
  • Increased staff turnover and absenteeism
  • Negative impact on the organisation’s reputation and image

impacts on employees: Research into the workplace implications of domestic and family violence has demonstrated how such violence can undermine the working lives of both victims and survivors.

The 2011 National Domestic Violence and the Workplace Survey found that nearly half (48%) of respondents who reported experiencing domestic and family violence said the violence had affected their ability to get to work. The main impact of violence was on work performance – 16% of victims and survivors reported being distracted, tired or unwell and 10% needed to take time off work.

Domestic and family violence perpetrated in the workplace: The perpetrator of domestic and family violence may go so far as to target the victim or survivor at work. They may do this through emails, by phone or by turning up at the office in order to try and get the victim/survivor fired or force them to resign. This can be part of an effort to increase control over the victim/survivor– that is, by increasing the victim/survivor’s economic dependency, undermining their self-confidence – or in order to punish them for attempting to leave the violent relationship

Further, women who experience domestic and family violence are also more likely to have lower personal incomes, a disrupted work history, often have to change jobs at short notice and are very often employed in casual or part time work.



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