The number of domestic violence defendants has increased yet again year on year, with over 6000 more people being charged with DV offences.
There were 83,849 defendants with at least one family and domestic violence-related offence in 2021-22 according to the ABS, an increase of 81 per cent.
Across 2020-21 a total of 77,545 people were charged with at least one DV offence – up a staggering 16 per cent – while large parts of the country were living under pandemic lockdown restrictions.
There were 83,849 defendants charged with at least one family and domestic violence related offence, up from 77,545 in 2020-21 and 66,500 in 2019-20.
The continued rise in domestic violence-related charges is “not a surprise” to Full Stop Australia chief executive Hayley Foster, considering the increased cost of living and the fallout from the pandemic.
“Financial stress is one of those things which doesn’t cause domestic and family violence, but certainly can exacerbate it or trigger it,” she said.
“The families who we’re supporting have experienced and begin to experience additional stress and dangers due to housing, affordability, a lack of wage growth, inflation and job insecurity as well.
“Certainly there are issues which are still presenting for people as a result of the reverberations from the pandemic.”
Of defendants facing FDV charges, four in five were male (81 per cent or 67,970 defendants), with a median age of 36 years.
Full Stop Australia chief executive Hayley Foster says the spike in DV numbers is triggered not only by economic uncertainty driving up violence, but due to more women coming forward amid confidence in the system.
Victims of family and domestic violence have also been emboldened to come forward and seek justice according to Ms Foster, which has contributed to the increase in numbers.
“There’s also been a lot less shame associated with coming forward. There’s been a lot of advocacy and people feeling a lot more confident they’ll be believed and won’t be blamed for what happened to them,” she said.
The type of offence defendants were charged with was evenly split between assault and breaching violence orders according to the ABS, with both accounting for 40 per cent of defendants.
Nine per cent were charged with stalking, harassment or threatening behaviour.
NSW experienced the highest number of defendants facing court, with 30,396 charged with at least one offence, with 48 per cent of those being for assault.
Queensland recorded the second highest number of defendants, with 19,486 facing court (of which 75 per cent were for breach of violence order offences) followed by Victoria with 17,944 defendants, Western Australia with 6,935 defendants and South Australia with 3,679.
The federal government has committed $1.7 billion to family and domestic violence services over six years, but the sector is in desperate need of more funding as women cry out for help, according to Ms Foster. Picture: NCA NewsWire / Martin Ollman
During Covid-19 there was an explosion of domestic violence cases – a jump of more than 11,000 defendants
There is no sign of things slowing down according to Ms Foster, with the number of people seeking Full Stop’s services climbing year on year.
“We see absolutely no sign of abatement,” she said. “During the pandemic there was a 26 per cent increase, but we’re maintaining increases of around 15 per cent per annum in terms of increases in demand for our services.”
She welcomed the Federal Government’s contributions toward supporting domestic violence support services in Australia, with $1.7 billion committed over six years, but said more needed to be done.
“Domestic and family violence services across the country have called for a $1 billion per annum commitment to address the significant gaps and shortfalls in the service system.”