At time of publication there was no single, agreed definition for family, domestic and sexual violence. Definitions of family, domestic and sexual violence are shaped by the context of inquiry and informed by the perspective and understandings of researchers or organisations. For example support services tend towards a holistic approach that informs service planning to meet the needs of victims and/or perpetrators. Legal definitions are more prescriptive, and define family, domestic and sexual violence according to criminal law offences or civil law matters. The different Australian Commonwealth and state and territory jurisdictional legal definitions are discussed in Domestic Violence Laws in Australia (NCRVWC 2009b) which provides a comparative analysis of the laws relating specifically to family and domestic violence in Australia and New Zealand.
Defining the data challenge for family, domestic and sexual violence sets out the complexities of defining family, domestic and sexual violence but does not articulate a particular fixed definition. Rather it provides a foundation to support a common language used to measure family, domestic and sexual violence. The purpose of a definition in this context therefore is to assist in the collection of data. The next section discusses the elements that are appropriate to a definition for statistical purposes.
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