4513.0 - Criminal Courts, Australia, 2017-18 Quality Declaration 
ARCHIVED ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 28/02/2019   
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120 This release presents experimental statistics about defendants who have been finalised in the Higher, Magistrates’ and Children’s Courts for at least one selected Family and Domestic Violence (FDV) offence (refer paragraph 130).


121 Data are presented about defendants finalised between July 1, 2017 and June 30, 2018 for all states and territories except South Australia (see paragraph 143).

What is FDV?

122 There is no single nationally or internationally agreed definition of ‘family and domestic violence’, and the terminology used to refer to ‘FDV behaviours’ varies across policy, legislative, service provision, and research contexts. Further, definitions and understandings of FDV have (and may continue) to evolve, including the behaviours and/or relationship types that are considered to be familial or domestic in nature.

FDV can include a wide range of violent and non-violent abusive behaviours or threats, such as:

  • physical and sexual violence or abuse
  • emotional and psychological abuse
  • verbal abuse and intimidation
  • economic abuse
  • social deprivation and controlling behaviours
  • damage of personal property
  • abuse of power.

The types of relationships involved in FDV can include (but are not limited to):
  • intimate partner relationships
  • other family and co-habitation relationships
  • siblings
  • children
  • carer relationships
  • cultural and kinship relationships
  • foster care relationships
  • blood relatives who do not co-habit.

123 Differences in the state and territory legislation used to determine the types of behaviours and relationships that constitute a family and domestic violence offence should be taken into account when interpreting data in this publication (see paragraphs 126–127).

How is FDV defined in this publication?

124 The FDV data published in this collection are based on information recorded in the state and territory court administrative systems. FDV offences are identified based on an indicator (or ‘flag’) that is recorded by either the police and/or courts, as follows:

125 In Victoria, Western Australia, the Northern Territory and Tasmania, police officers flag FDV offences, following investigation/charging, on their crime recording systems, and this is transferred through to courts administrative systems.

126 In New South Wales and Queensland, FDV offences are identified based on FDV-specific legislation and are flagged either by police or when the matter is dealt with by the court. The related legislation includes:
  • In New South Wales: Crimes (Domestic and Personal Violence) Act 2007 (NSW)
  • In Queensland:
    • s47 (9) of the Justices Act 1886 (for charges lodged in the Magistrates’ Courts)
    • s564 (3A) of the Criminal Code Act 1899 (for indictments lodged in the Supreme and District Court)
    • Domestic and Family Violence Protection Act 2012
    • Criminal Law (Domestic Violence) Amendment Act 2016.

    127 In the Australian Capital Territory, FDV offences are identified and flagged either by police (following investigation/charging), or where the court list hearing type is ‘Family Violence’ (FV).

    128 Given these differences in how FDV offences are identified or defined, direct comparisons of the state/territory FDV data presented in this publication should not be made.

    129 Further, the comparability of FDV data may vary across time periods – both within and across states and territories – due to a number of factors including:
    • Differences or changes in state/territory police/court operations and business rules;
    • Differences in state/territory legislation with regard to the relationships and/or offences that are defined as FDV;
    • Differences or changes in the reporting behaviour of victims; and/or
    • Limitations in the quality or availability of data recorded on police and courts administrative systems.

    What FDV offences are presented?

    130 For the purposes of this publication, FDV offences are limited to the following ANZSOC Division/Sub-division offences:
    • 01 Homicide and related offences (011 Murder, 012 Attempted murder and 013 Manslaughter and driving causing death)
    • 02 Acts intended to cause injury (021 Assault and 029 Other acts intended to cause injury)
    • 03 Sexual assault and related offences (031 Sexual assault and 032 Non-assaultive sexual offences)
    • 049 Other dangerous or negligent acts endangering persons
    • 05 Abduction/harassment (051 Abduction and kidnapping, 052 Deprivation of liberty and 053 Harassment and threatening behaviour)
    • 121 Property damage
    • 1531 Breach of violence order.

    Refer to Appendix 1 for the full ANZSOC classification.

    131 It should be noted that the differences in how FDV offences are identified, charged by police and dealt with in the courts system (described above) can impact on the offence data presented in this publication. For example, the way in which Breach of violence orders are charged and prosecuted by police can differ across states and territories, thereby resulting in issues of data comparability for the breach offences, as well as other associated offence data.


    132 The principal counting unit for the experimental FDV statistics presented in this publication (as per the main suite of information) is the finalised defendant - a person for whom all charges in a case have been formally completed in one or more court levels during the reference period. Specifically, this refers to any defendant who has been finalised for at least one FDV-related offence during the reference period.

    133 Where a defendant has had multiple FDV offences finalised on the same day during the reference period within the same court level, they will be counted once and assigned a principal FDV offence based on their most serious method of finalisation and the National Offence Index (NOI) (cat no. 1234.0.55.001).

    134 Where a defendant had multiple FDV offences finalised on different days or within different court levels, during the reference period, they will be counted once for each date and/or court level in which they were finalised and are assigned a principal FDV offence for each finalisation.

    135 Non-FDV offences (i.e. those that are not flagged) are excluded from the experimental statistics prior to the ranking of the most serious offence. As such, FDV principal offence data are not directly comparable with principal offence data presented elsewhere in this publication.

    136 To enable comparison, the total number of defendants finalised for each of the selected offences (as described in paragraph 130) are presented in Data Cube 14 – FDV Table 1, alongside a proportion of those which were FDV related.


    137 This section describes state and territory specific events or processes (e.g. recording practices or legislation changes) that may impact on the availability, and/or comparability of state and territory FDV data.

    New South Wales

    138 In New South Wales, FDV offences can be identified either by the associated legislative reference (refer to paragraph 126), or when the courts make an ‘Offence to be recorded as a domestic violence offence’ order. The flagging of offences against Commonwealth legislation can only be made by the courts through such an order. While this process is open to the courts, these orders are (currently) rarely applied to Commonwealth offences, resulting in lower than expected levels of flagging for some offence types – particularly offences in ANZSOC Division 05 Abduction/harassment.


    139 In Victoria, when a defendant attends court from custody, their records are initiated manually in the court recording system. As such, the FDV flag – which is recorded in the police system and automatically transferred to the court system (refer paragraph 125) – is not applied to these defendants’ court records. This results in a lower than expected level of FDV flagging for certain offence types, in particular ANZSOC Divisions 01 Homicide and related offences and 03 Sexual assault and related offences.

    140 Prior to 2017-18, FDV information from the Higher Courts in Victoria were unavailable due to systems limitations, however are included for the first time in this release.

    141 Prior to December 2015, information on FDV offences flowing from the Victorian Police recording systems to the Victorian Court Services did not include FDV sexual assault offences (identifiable via a Family Violence Sexual Assault (FVSA) Indicator. As such, data about FDV related sexual assault may be understated in Victoria prior to 2016–17.


    142 The Queensland government has enacted a raft of new domestic violence legislation which included, from December 2015, the ability to record when criminal offending is FDV-related, and in May 2016 introduced a new FDV offence of ‘choking, suffocation or strangulation in a domestic setting’. Increased penalties for FDV offenders were introduced in October 2015. To account for these changes, FDV data are only published for Queensland from 2016–17 onward.

    South Australia

    143 FDV data for South Australia are not included in this publication due to system limitations in the South Australian Criminal Courts. However the ABS continues to work with the data provider to obtain FDV information for inclusion in future releases.

    Western Australia

    144 Information relating to FDV offenders is recorded by Western Australia Police on two separate crime recording systems - the Information Management System (IMS) and Briefcase. Only data from Briefcase transfers through to the criminal courts administrative systems. As such, statistics about FDV defendants for Western Australia may be understated.


    145 Prior to 2017–18, FDV information from the Higher Courts in Tasmania were unavailable due to systems limitations, however are included for the first time in this release.


    146 In line with ABS policy on data confidentiality, table cells containing small values have been randomly adjusted. As such, the sum of the components of a total will not necessarily give the same result as the published total in a particular table.


    147 Users should note that the FDV data contained in this publication are considered to be experimental and are subject to further evaluation. The ABS welcomes and appreciates feedback from users of these statistics on any aspect of the release. Please send written feedback to: crime.justice@abs.gov.au.