The development of robust family, domestic and sexual violence statistics requires support and commitment from a range of organisations, both government and non-government, not only for the life of the National Plan, but into the future. Responding to family, domestic and sexual violence incurs costs to the community and to individuals, and improving information across sectors and jurisdictions will enhance the understanding of these financial and personal costs. An improved understanding of family, domestic and sexual violence will also provide the foundations for the creation and measurement of effective prevention measures.
As discussed in this paper, there are two ways in which the evidence base can be improved through data; the first is to build new surveys that are specific to a topic, and the second is to augment existing administrative data holdings. Increasing the utility of administrative data are crucial in light of current fiscal demands and has the potential to provide interim data in the time periods between surveys. Accordingly, the findings and key themes outlined in this paper focus on how to improve administrative data holdings and facilitate transformation of existing data into statistical information to inform prevention and policy activities.
Any attempt to build a picture of family, domestic and sexual violence in Australia must consider information from a range of sources. While a range of existing data sources were identified, a number of gaps were also noted, and a major challenge being the consistent identification of family, domestic and sexual violence events both in the data, and in the field. Moreover, information about the provision and utilisation of services is needed along with the performance and cost of the systems providing these services.
The key themes in this paper provide guidance on possible actions to address the issues that are impacting on the improvement of the current evidence base. The potential long term outcomes of implementation of the key themes contained in this paper is the creation of an environment where comparable data are collected across jurisdictions and sectors and reported at the national level.
It is important to note that there are data limitations in this field and significant constraints to establishing a national evidence base. It is unlikely that the ‘real number’ of family and domestic and/or sexual violence events will ever be known. Different collection methods, definitions and scope will often produce different levels of estimates. It is vital that data producers and users are aware of the strengths and limitations of the data that they are using. While it is acknowledged that limited resources are generally available, the ability of organisations to improve current data practices and enhance staff capabilities will depend on the priority given to investing in statistical assets and infrastructure.
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