Definition of Violence

Violence is “the intentional use of physical force or power, threatened or actual, against oneself, another person, or against a group or community that either results in or has a high likelihood of resulting in injury, death, psychological harm, maldevelopment, or deprivation”.1

Commonly reported types of violence include assault by bodily force, assaults with blunt and sharp objects, maltreatment and sexual assault by bodily force.1

Impact of Violence on Western Australia

Who does it impact?

In Western Australia between 2014 and 2018, there were 160 deaths due to violence.2

In Western Australia between 2015 and 2019 there were:2

  • 17,134 hospitalisations due to violence.
  • 56.8% percent of hospitalisations for violence were males.
  • people aged 25 – 44 had the highest incidence of hospitalisations due to violence.

In Western Australia Aboriginal peoples make up 3.1% of the population, however between 2011 and 2015 45.83% of violence hospitalisations were Aboriginal peoples.2,3

All violence data includes the following conditions; assault by firearm discharge; assault by sharp or blunt object; assault by bodily force, sexual assault by bodily force; neglect, abandonment, maltreatment; other assault, injury caused by other person(s) and injury where intent is undetermined; all assault and other injury caused by other person(s).

Where does it occur?

In Western Australia between 2015 and 2019, the regions with the highest difference to the WA State hospitalisation rate, were the Kimberley (1,282% higher), Pilbara (225% higher) and Midwest (122% higher).2

Impact on the health system

In Western Australia in 2019, there were 3,474 hospitalisations for violence, consuming an estimated 15,668 bed days at an approximate cost of $22,481,266.2

Determinants of Violence (Risk / Protective Factors)

Social Determinants

Socioeconomic status
People who live in areas of lower socioeconomic status in Western Australia are six times more likely to be hospitalised due to violence than those who live in the more affluent areas.5

Education and employment
Males with a degree or diploma qualification or higher, are half as likely to experience physically threatening behaviour than males with lower levels of education. Similarly, unemployed men experience harassment and threatening behaviour at 2.5 times the rate of employed men.5

Gender stereotypes
Gender stereotypes may promote violence against women and other social components, such as race or sexuality, may increase violence against marginalised communities.5

Young people aged 18 – 24 are more likely to experience alcohol-related violence in Western Australia.6

Experience of colonisation and racism
Aboriginal People experience significantly higher rates of hospitalisation due to violence. This relates to the higher rates of hospitalisation for violence in regional and remote areas, where a larger portion of the population are Aboriginal.5

Social exclusion
Migrant and refugee women who may have experienced several types of physical and sexual violence in their lives are believed to be at greater risk of experiencing violence in Australia due to a lack of support networks for culturally and linguistically diverse people, lower socioeconomic status and a limited awareness of their own rights.5

Environmental, Community and Organisational Determinants

The rate of hospitalisation due to violence is significantly higher in the regional remote areas of Western Australia, than in the metropolitan areas.5

Access to weapons
Access to objects which can be used for violent acts or as weapons, such as firearms is a key determinant in severity of violent crimes like interpersonal violence.5

Behavioural and Individual Determinants

Males are more likely to be victims of physical violence.5 Females are more likely to be victims of sexual, domestic and family violence, overwhelmingly committed by males.5 Males are twice as likely to be hospitalised and die as a result of violence.5

Every year in Western Australia the police receive almost 14,000 notifications of abuse or neglect due to the mal-treatment of children and young people as a result of physical abuse, sexual abuse, elder abuse emotional abuse or neglect.5

In Western Australia, an estimated 12,500 elderly people will experience some form of elder abuse in a year.5

Due to a greater dependence on other people, people with a disability are more vulnerable to experiencing violence.5

Alcohol and other drugs
Alcohol use particularly at high levels, is a significant risk factor for violence.6

Two thirds of people who experience physical violence in Western Australia state that alcohol was a contributing factor.5

Effective Interventions

Legislation, Policies, Standards and Codes of Practice

Deliberately causing physical harm to another person is illegal in Australia. Police Orders, Violence Restraining Orders and Misconduct Restraining Orders intend on protecting people at risk of family and domestic violence. In addition to this, specific acts for children identify failing to protect children from harm as a crime.5

Western Australian example

Various pieces of legislation cover violence. The Domestic and Family Violence Protection Act 2012 and the Criminal Code Act Compilation Act 1913 are two examples of the broad range of legislations covering violence. Western Australia is also subject to strict firearm laws under the Firearm Act 1973.

Policies that reduce the availability and harmful use of alcohol, and the access to guns, knives, pesticides and other weapon, may be effective in reducing violence in the community.7 Reducing interpersonal violence forms part of the WA Health Promotion Strategic Framework to promote and support a safer community in Western Australia.8

Western Australian example

The WA Health Promotion Strategic Framework 2017-2021 outlines WA Health’s plan to reduce preventable chronic disease and injury in our communities over the next five years.8

Western Australian example

Path to Safety: Western Australia’s strategy to reduce family and domestic violence 2020-2030 outlines the steps that need to be taken to reduce family and domestic violence in WA. 

Environmental, Community and Organisational Initiatives

Community campaigns and programs
Community initiatives and awareness campaigns that aim to change cultural expectations and social norms that promote violence, such as gender equality messages to protect women, are recommended to reduce violence.7

Western Australia example

Many public awareness campaigns have been run both nationally and in Western Australia to raise awareness about community violence. For example, a state government campaign emphasising new legislation about “one-punch” legislation was run in 2007.

Western Australian example

Towards a Future Without Violence: A Community Violence Prevention Strategy for the North Metropolitan Area 2012, was released by Injury Matters. The strategy provides a framework for agencies to implement violence prevention initiatives in metropolitan and regional areas.9

Western Australian example

The White Ribbon campaign is run by men, aimed at ending male domestic violence against women. The campaign runs all year and includes primary prevention strategies with young men in schools, workplaces and the community.10

Western Australian example

Elder abuse protocols have been developed by Advocare Incorporated to support elderly people who may be experiencing elder abuse, as well as providing sector and community-wide advocacy on the issue.11

Group and Individual Initiatives

Programs for victims of violence
Care and support programs for people who are victims of violence can help them deal with the associated physical and psychological effects.

Western Australian example

The Domestic Violence Outreach Program is delivered by the Women’s Council for Domestic and Family Violence Services, in regional Western Australia, offering support to women who are experiencing domestic violence. The council also offer the Keeping Kids Safe program, aimed at children.12

Relationship support groups
Developing safe, stable and nurturing relationships between children and caregivers may be protective against violence.5

Western Australian example

The Fathering Project is a Western Australian-based organisation that aims to develop healthy and stable relationships between fathers and other male caregivers and sons by providing online resources and running support groups.13

Western Australian example

Communicare provides the “Breathing Space” program to men who are perpetrators of domestic violence. This is a three month, behaviour change program where participants are given accommodation and undergo a variety of group and individual counselling programs in a secure setting.14

Key stakeholders in Western Australia

Other Resources

Know Injury, ‘Local governments and family and domestic violence’ webinar recording

Know Injury, ‘Preventing youth violence in your local government area’ webinar recording 

WA Department of Communities, Path to Safety: Western Australia’s strategy to reduce family and domestic violence 2020 – 2030. 

Our Watch, Changing the picture; a national resource to support the prevention of violence against Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women and their children

Our Watch, How to report on violence against women and their children

Our Watch, Prevention toolkit for Local Governments

Royal Perth Hospital, Admissions to Royal Perth Hospital with injuries from assaults 2009 – 2019

Royal Perth Hospital, Admissions to Royal Perth Hospital related to domestic and family violence 2010 – 2019

AIHW, Family, domestic and sexual violence in Australia: continuing the national story 2019

WALGA, Family and Domestic Violence – the role of Local Governments Discussion Paper

Injury Matters, Creating Respect And Safety among Youth – short film. 

WHO, Injuries and violence: the facts

WHO, Violence prevention the evidence

WHO, Global status report on violence prevention

Australian Research Alliance for Children & Youth, Preventing youth violence. What does and doesn’t work and why?

WA Department of Health, Injury Prevention in Western Australia: A Review of State-wide Activity for Selected Injury Areas.

Know Injury 2015 violence fact sheet (2007 – 2011 data).


1 Definition and Typology of Violence. (2015). Violence Prevention Alliance: World Health Organization, retrieved from
2 Data generated using HealthTracks Reporting, by the Epidemiology Branch, WA Department of Health in collaboration with the Cooperative Research Centre for Spatial Information (CRC-SI), March 2021.
3 Australian Bureau of Statistics 2016, ‘Western Australia, People’, viewed 5 September 2017, <>
5 Department of Health, Western Australia. Injury prevention in Western Australia: A review of statewide activity. Perth; Chronic Disease Prevention Directorate, Department of Health. 2015.
6 Alcohol and Violence in Australia, (2012) McCusker Centre for Action on Alcohol and Youth. Retrieved from
7 Injury Control Council of Western Australia (2010) Community Violence. Retrieved from
8 Department of Health, WA. (2012). WA Health Promotion Strategic Framework 2017-2021. Perth: Department of Health, Western Australia, Chronic Disease Prevention Directorate. Retrieved from
9 Injury Control Council of Western Australia (2012) Towards a Future Without Violence: A Community Violence Prevention Strategy for the North Metropolitan Area 2012. Retrieved from
10 About Us (2021) White Ribbon. Retrieved from
11 Understanding elder abuse (2021) Advocare Incorporated. Retrieved from
12 Projects, (2011) Women’s Council for Domestic and Family Violence Services. Retrieved from
13 The Fathering Project (2015) About the Fathering Project. Retrieved from
14 Communicare (2014) Accomodation Services: Communicare Breathing Space. Retrieved from

Printable Fact sheet

Click here to download a printable version of the violence Fact sheet.

Click here to download a printable version of the violence Resource Kit.