4714.0 - National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social Survey, 2014-15  
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ABORIGINAL AND TORRES STRAIT ISLANDER WOMEN'S EXPERIENCES OF FAMILY AND DOMESTIC VIOLENCE


INTRODUCTION

Any reference to males, females or persons in this article refers to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people aged 15 years and over unless otherwise stated.

Family and domestic violence has a profound effect on the health and wellbeing of individuals, families and communities. This article:


Experiences of family and domestic violence are identified from a person’s most recent experience of physical violence in the 12 months prior to the survey where at least one of the perpetrators was an intimate partner or family member (see Appendix 4 for more detail).

Due to the relatively small numbers of men who experienced family and domestic violence, it is not possible to explore their experiences in the same detail.

KEY STATISTICS
    • About one in 10 (10%) women experienced family and domestic violence (based on their most recent experience of physical violence).
    • Women in the age groups 25–34 years and 35–44 years were most likely to have experienced family and domestic violence (14% for each age group).
    • About four in 10 (43%) women who were physically injured visited a health professional for their injuries and six in 10 (60%) reported the incident to police.
    • When compared with women who had not experienced any physical violence in the previous 12 months, women who had experienced family and domestic violence were:
        • more likely to report high or very high levels of psychological distress (69% compared with 34%)
        • more likely to have a mental health condition (53% compared with 31%)
        • more likely to report they had experienced homelessness at some time in their life (55% compared with 26%)
        • less likely to trust police in their local area (44% compared with 62%)
        • just as likely to trust their own doctor (77% compared with 83% [1])
        • just as likely to report being able to get support outside the household in a time of crisis (88% compared with 92% [1]).

    WOMEN'S EXPERIENCES OF FAMILY AND DOMESTIC VIOLENCE

    Women twice as likely as men to experience family and domestic violence

    Women were twice as likely as men to identify an intimate partner or family member as at least one of the perpetrators [2] in their most recent experience of physical violence — about two in three women (72%) and about one in three men (35%).


    "Abused and battered mother, abused and battered kids, abused and battered grandparents, abused and battered generation. It sticks with you for generations and doesn't leave. It becomes an acceptable practice. In my work I've seen violence in different generations of our people."
    Tracey Dillon, Chief Executive Officer,
    South East Tasmanian Aboriginal Corporation

    Younger women more vulnerable than older women

    Women in the age groups 25–34 years and 35–44 years were most likely to have experienced family and domestic violence (14% in both age groups).


    Table 12.1 Experience of family and domestic violence(a) by age group, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander females


    Experienced family and domestic violence
    Total females

    ‘000
    % of age group
    ‘000

    15–24 years
    6.4
    9.4
    68.8
    25–34 years
    7.3
    14.4
    50.5
    35–44 years
    5.8
    14.3
    40.6
    45 years and over
    3.8
    5.4
    71.2
    Total aged 15 years and over
    23.0
    10.0
    231.1

    (a) Based on most recent experience of physical violence in previous 12 months.



    Alcohol and other substances were contributing factors

    Almost seven in 10 (68%) women who had experienced family and domestic violence reported that alcohol and/or other substances contributed to the incident [3].
      • More than five in 10 women who had experienced family and domestic violence reported alcohol (by itself or with other substances) was a contributing factor (53%).
      • More than one in 10 women who had experienced family and domestic violence reported that other substances alone were a contributing factor (13%).

    Majority of women reported they were physically injured

    Almost six in 10 (57%) women who had experienced family and domestic violence were physically injured. Of these women:
      • about eight in 10 reported bruises (82%)
      • three in 10 reported fractures or broken bones, broken teeth, penetrative injuries/stabbing/gunshot, miscarriage and/or injuries other than bruises, scratches and cuts (30%)
      • about four in 10 visited a health professional for their injuries (43%)
      • six in 10 reported the incident to police (60%).

    Of the 44% of women who reported not being physically injured [4], about four in 10 (42%) reported the incident to police.



    "It is important to ensure survivors of family violence have access to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community controlled culturally safe services that can negotiate with police, courts and child protection services on their behalf."
    Cheryl Axleby, Co-Chair,
    National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Legal Services

    SOCIO-DEMOGRAPHIC CHARACTERISTICS OF ABORIGINAL AND TORRES STRAIT ISLANDER WOMEN WHO HAVE EXPERIENCED FAMILY AND DOMESTIC VIOLENCE

    This section compares the socio-demographic characteristics of women who had experienced family and domestic violence with those of women who had not experienced any physical violence in the 12 months prior to the survey [5].

    Level of education appears to be unrelated to experiences of family and domestic violence

    There were no significant differences in the levels of education between women who had experienced family and domestic violence and women who had not experienced any physical violence. For example:
      • Year 12 was the highest level of education for about one in 10 women in both groups (14% and 12% respectively [1])
      • Year 9 or below was the highest level for about two in 10 women in both groups (22% and 21% respectively [1])


    Figure 12.1 Highest educational attainment, females(a) - 2014-15
    Graph shows there were no significant differences in the levels of education between both groups of women.

    Footnotes: (a) Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander females aged 15 years and over. (b) Difference between those who experienced family and domestic violence and those who had not experienced any physical violence is not statistically significant. (c) Estimate for those who experienced family and domestic violence has a relative standard error of 25% to 50% and should be used with caution. (d) Includes Cert I/II/not further defined, and never attended school and does not have a non-school qualification.

    Source: 2014-15 National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social Survey


    Less likely to be employed or in the labour force

    When compared with women who had not experienced any physical violence, women aged 15–64 years who had experienced family and domestic violence were:
      • less likely to be employed (34% compared with 45%)
      • more likely to not be in the labour force (54% compared with 45%)
      • just as likely to be unemployed (12% and 11% respectively [1]).


    Figure 12.2 Labour force status, females(a) - 2014-15
    Graph shows the proportion of women in both groups who were employed, unemployed and not in the labour force.

    Footnotes: (a) Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander females aged 15-64 years. (b) Difference between those who experienced family and domestic violence and those who had not experienced any physical violence is not statistically significant. (c) Includes women who undertook unpaid household duties or other voluntary work only, were retired, voluntarily inactive and those permanently unable to work.

    Source: 2014-15 National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social Survey


    Less likely to rate own health as excellent or very good

    When compared with women who had not experienced any physical violence, women who had experienced family and domestic violence were:
      • less likely to rate their own health as excellent or very good (27% compared with 38%)
      • just as likely to rate their health as fair or poor (29% compared with 26% [1]).


    Figure 12.3 Self-assessed health status, females(a) - 2014-15
    Graph shows the proportion of women in both groups who rated their own health as excellent/very good and fair/poor.

    Footnotes: (a) Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander females aged 15 years and over. (b) Difference between those who experienced family and domestic violence and those who had not experienced any physical violence is not statistically significant.

    Source: 2014-15 National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social Survey


    More likely to have a long-term health condition and to have experienced stress

    When compared with women who had not experienced any physical violence, women who had experienced family and domestic violence were more likely to:
      • have been diagnosed with at least one long-term health condition (79% compared with 68%)
      • have a mental health condition (53% compared with 31%)
      • have experienced one or more selected personal stressors [6] in the 12 months prior to the survey (88% compared with 67%)
      • report high or very high levels of psychological distress (69% compared with 34%)
      • live in a household that could not raise $2,000 within a week in an emergency, an indicator of financial stress (58% compared with 46%).


    Figure 12.4 Levels of psychological distress, females(a) - 2014-15
    Graph shows the proportion of women in both groups who reported low/moderate and high/very high levels of psychological distress.

    Footnote: (a) Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander females aged 15 years and over.

    Source: 2014-15 National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social Survey


    Lower levels of trust

    Women who experienced family and domestic violence reported lower levels of trust in police and hospitals compared with females who had not experienced any physical violence.
      • About four in 10 agreed or strongly agreed with the statement that the police in their local area could be trusted (44% compared with 62% of females who had not experienced any violence).
      • About six in 10 agreed or strongly agreed with the statement that hospitals can be trusted (56% compared with 66%).

    However, women who experienced family and domestic violence were just as likely as those who had not experienced any physical violence to trust their own doctor or most people.
      • About eight in 10 in both groups agreed or strongly agreed with the statement they could trust their own doctor (77% compared with 83% [1]).
      • About three in 10 in both groups agreed or strongly agreed with the statement that most people can be trusted (25% compared with 34% [1]).


    Figure 12.5 Level of trust(a), females(b) - 2014-15

    Graph shows the proportion of women in both groups who felt that local police, hospitals, own doctor and most people can be trusted.


    Footnotes: (a) Respondents who agreed that local police/own doctor/hospitals/most people could be trusted to do the right thing by them. (b) Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander females aged 15 years and over. (c) Difference between those who experienced family and domestic violence and those who had not experienced any physical violence is not statistically significant.

    Source: 2014-15 National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social Survey


    Equally strong social networks outside the household

    Women who had experienced family and domestic violence were just as likely as those who had not experienced any physical violence to report being able to:
      • get general support outside their household (86% and 91% respectively [1])
      • get support outside the household in a time of crisis (88% and 92% respectively [1])
      • confide in family and friends outside the household (77% and 84% respectively [1]).


    Figure 12.6 Social networks outside the household, females(a) - 2014-15

    Graph shows the proportion of women in both groups able to get general support, able to get support in a time of crisis and those able to confide in family and friends.


    Footnotes: (a) Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander females 15 years and over. (b) Difference between those who experienced family and domestic violence and those who had not experienced any physical violence is not statistically significant.

    Source: 2014-15 National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social Survey


    Less likely to feel they can have a say with family and friends on important issues

    More than half of women who had experienced family and domestic violence felt they could have a say with family and friends on important issues most or all of the time (57%). This was lower than for those who had not experienced any physical violence (74%).

    Women who had experienced family and domestic violence were also three times as likely as those who had not experienced any physical violence to feel they could have a say a little or none of the time (25% compared with 9%).


    Figure 12.7 Able to have say with family and friends(a), females(b) - 2014-15

    Graph shows the proportion of women in both groups who felt able to have a say with family and friends most or all of the time, some of the time, and a little or none of the time.

    Footnote: (a) On important issues. (b) Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander females aged 15 years and over. (c) Difference between those who experienced family and domestic violence and those who had not experienced any physical violence is not statistically significant. (d) Estimate for those who experienced family and domestic violence has a relative standard error of 25% to 50% and should be used with caution.

    Source: 2014-15 National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social Survey


    Equally likely to feel they can have a say within community on important issues

    Women who had experienced family and domestic violence were just as likely as those who had not experienced any physical violence to feel like they could have a say within the community on important issues.
      • Around two in 10 women in both groups felt they could have a say most or all of the time (21% and 25% respectively [1]).
      • Around five in 10 in both groups felt they could have a say a little or none of the time (56% and 50% respectively [1]).


    Figure 12.8 Able to have a say within community(a), females(b) - 2014-15
    Graph shows the proportion of women in both groups who felt able to have a say within their community most or all of the time, some of the time, and a little or none of the time.

    Footnotes: (a) On important issues. (b) Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander females aged 15 years and over. (c) Difference between those who experienced family and domestic violence and those who had not experienced any physical violence is not statistically significant.

    Source: 2014-15 National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social Survey


    More likely to have experienced homelessness

    Women who had experienced family and domestic violence were twice as likely as those who had not experienced any physical violence to report they had experienced homelessness at some time in their life (55% compared with 26%).

    Lower level of overall life satisfaction

    Overall life satisfaction measures how a person evaluates their life as a whole using a scale ranging from 0 to 10, where 0 is 'not at all satisfied' and 10 is 'completely satisfied'. The average overall life satisfaction rating for women who had experienced family and domestic violence was 6.2, much lower than the rating of 7.4 for women who had not experienced any physical violence.


    Figure 12.9 Average overall life satisfaction rating(a), females(b) - 2014-15

    Graph shows the overall life satisfaction rating for women in both groups.

    Footnotes: (a) From 0 'not at all satisfied' to 10 for 'completely satisfied'. (b) Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander females aged 15 years and over.

    Source: 2014-15 National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social Survey


    Footnotes
    1. The difference is not statistically significant.
    2. Respondents were able to identify more than one perpetrator where necessary. A perpetrator may be an Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander person or a non-Indigenous person.
    3 .Whether alcohol and/or other substances were contributing factors to the incident is based on the respondent's perception. The respondent, perpetrator or both may have been affected.
    4. Data has been randomly adjusted to avoid the release of confidential data, so discrepancies may occur between sums of the component items and totals.
    5. Females whose most recent experience of physical violence was from another known person — that is, someone known to them other than an intimate partner or family member — or stranger are excluded from this analysis.
    6. The list of stressors that respondents could choose from included a wide range of experiences such as: serious illness/accident/disability; marriage or divorce; pregnancy; overcrowding at home; job related stressors; death of a family member or close friend; violence; discrimination; gambling or drug and alcohol-related problems; imprisonment or trouble with the police; and pressure to fulfil cultural responsibilities.