Male assault rates almost halved over the last decade

Media Release

The physical assault victimisation rate for men has almost halved since 2008-09, while remaining relatively stable for women over the same period, according to new data released today by the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS).

The 2020-21 Crime Victimisation Survey found that an estimated 2 per cent of men experienced physical assault in the last 12 months, compared with 3.9 per cent in 2008-09. The rate of physical assault against women has remained relatively stable over the same period of time (2.4 per cent in 2008-09 and 2.1 per cent in 2020-21).

ABS Director of the National Centre of Crime and Justice Statistics, William Milne, said: “The largest decrease was seen in young men aged 15 to 29 years, where the rate of physical assault fell from 8.3 per cent in 2008-09 to 3.5 per cent in 2020-21.”

The results showed that perpetrators of physical assault differed for men and women. “For women, the perpetrator was most often a family member or intimate partner (49 per cent), while for men the perpetrator was most often a stranger (44 per cent) or another known person (42 per cent),” Mr Milne said.

The survey also found that between 2008-09 and 2020-21, the rate of sexual assault for women aged 18 years and over increased from 0.5 per cent to 0.9 per cent.

“The largest increase was seen in the last year for young women aged 18 to 29 years, where the rate of sexual assault rose from 1.2 per cent in 2019-20 to 3.3 per cent in 2020-21.”

The Crime Victimisation Australia publication provides information about people’s experiences for a selected range of personal and household crimes, including the sociodemographic characteristics of people experiencing the offences, whether the most recent incident was reported to police, and other characteristics of the most recent incident.

Further information can be found in Crime Victimisation, Australia, 2020-21.

Media notes

  • When reporting ABS data you must attribute the Australian Bureau of Statistics (or the ABS) as the source.
  • For media requests and interviews, contact the ABS Media Team via (8.30am-5pm Mon-Fri).
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  • Physical assault victimisation rates relate to persons aged 15 years and over.
  • Intimate partner includes current partner (married/de facto), previous partner (married/de facto), boyfriend, girlfriend or date and ex-boyfriend, ex-girlfriend or ex-date.
  • Changes in the 12-month victimisation rate of sexual assault over time can be influenced by real-world changes in the prevalence of sexual assault, as well as changing attitudes and awareness of family, domestic, and sexual violence more broadly. These changes can impact on people’s ability to recognise sexual assault when it occurs, and their willingness to disclose their experiences to a survey interviewer.
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