Young people


  • Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS), Personal Safety, Australia, 2016, ABS cat no. 4906.0 (2016).

    This release presents information from the Australian Bureau of Statistics’ (ABS) 2016 Personal Safety Survey (PSS).

    The survey collected detailed information from men and women about their experiences of violence since the age of 18, as well as experiences of current and previous partner violence, stalking, physical and sexual abuse and harassment, abuse before the age of 15, and general feelings of safety.

    Women aged 18-24 were the most likely to have experienced violence, with approximately 12% of these women experiencing violence in the 12 months prior to the survey (see Table 6).
  • Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, Family, domestic and sexual violence in Australia: continuing the national story 2019 (Report, 2019).

    This report usefully compiles and summarises current statistics on family violence, domestic violence and sexual violence from multiple sources. Its key points are:

    • women are at greater risk of family, domestic and sexual violence;
    • some groups of women are more vulnerable to all three types of violence (in particular, women who are Indigenous, young, pregnant, separating from a partner or experiencing financial hardship and women with disability);
    • children are often exposed to the violence;
    • the three types of violence are leading causes of homelessness and adverse health consequences for women and create significant financial cost; and
    • family violence is worse for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

    The report also identifies important gaps in the current research on family, domestic and sexual violence. No or limited data is available on:

    • children’s experiences, including attitudes, prevalence, severity, frequency, impacts and outcomes of these forms of violence;
    • specific at-risk population groups, including Indigenous Australians, people with disability, and lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTI) people, including those in same-sex relationships;
    • the effect of known risk factors, such as socioeconomic status, employment, income and geographical location;
    • services and responses that victims and perpetrators receive, including specialist services, mainstream services and police and justice responses;
    • pathways, impacts and outcomes for victims and perpetrators; and
    • the evaluation of programs and interventions.
  • Bluett-Boyd, Nicole, Bianca Fileborn, Antonia Quadara and Sharnee Moore, ‘The Role of Emerging Technologies in Experiences of Sexual Violence. A New Legal Frontier?’ (Research Report No 23, Australian Institute of Family Studies, February 2013).
    This research study investigates how communication technologies facilitate sexual violence against young people and what challenges this presents for the Victorian criminal justice system. Based on interviews with young people and professionals working with young people, it examines the effects of technology on the lives of young people, the interface between emerging communication technologies and experiences of sexual violence, and the factors that enable or hinder appropriate legal responses. Communication technologies such as online social networking sites and mobile phones are considered, and their use in identifying and grooming potential victims, blackmail and intimation, sexting, harassment, and pornography.
  • Boxall, Hayley and Anthony Morgan, Repeat Domestic and Family Violence among Young People Research Report No 591, February 2020, Australian Institute of Criminology.
    This paper adds to what is known about family violence perpetrated by adolescents. It examines short-term reoffending patterns – including timing, prevalence, the peak period for repeat violence, and cumulative rates – as well as predictors of repeat violence, particularly those relating to prior histories of family violence or breaches of orders, given that this information is readily available to frontline responders. The paper draws on incident data from Victoria Police for almost 4,000 young people aged 12-18 involved in domestic or family violence. Approximately one in four of these young people were involved in repeat violence in the six months following an incident, with the risk peaking at around 30 days following an incident in domestic violence cases and at around three to four weeks for family violence cases. Violence was largely perpetrated against intimate partners or parents. The findings show how the violence histories of young people can be helpful for identifying who will be involved in repeat violence in the short term, and who will be involved in multiple violent incidents. Frequency of prior incidents of violence is a better predictor of future short-term reoffending than prevalence of prior violence, but they are both useful indicators of future risk.
  • Boxall H & Morgan A 2021. Who is most at risk of physical and sexual partner violence and coercive control during the COVID-19 pandemic?. Trends & issues in crime and criminal justice no. 618. Canberra: Australian Institute of Criminology.

    Abstract: In this study, data was analysed from a survey of Australian women (n=9,284) to identify women at the highest risk of physical and sexual violence and coercive control during the early stages of the COVID-19 pandemic.

    Logistic regression modelling identified that specific groups of women were more likely than the general population to have experienced physical and sexual violence in the past three months. These were Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women, women aged 18–24, women with a restrictive health condition, pregnant women and women in financial stress. Similar results were identified for coercive control, and the co-occurrence of both physical/sexual violence and coercive control.

    These results show that domestic violence during the early stages of the COVID-19 pandemic was not evenly distributed across the Australian community, but more likely to occur among particular groups.
  • Boxall H et al. 2020. Responding to adolescent family violence: Findings from an impact evaluation. Trends & issues in crime and criminal justice no. 601. Canberra: Australian Institute of Criminology.

    Abstract: Despite growing recognition of the prevalence of and harms associated with adolescent family violence, our knowledge of how best to respond remains underdeveloped.

    This paper describes the findings from the outcome evaluation of the Adolescent Family Violence Program. The results show that the program had a positive impact on young people and their families, leading to improved parenting capacity and parent–adolescent attachment. However, there was mixed evidence of its impact on the prevalence, frequency and severity of violent behaviours.

    The evaluation reaffirms the importance of dedicated responses for young people who use family violence, and the potential benefits, and limits, of community-based programs.
  • Campbell, Elena, Jessica Richter, Jo Howard and Helen Cockburn, The PIPA Project: Positive Interventions for Perpetrators of Adolescent Violence in the Home (AVITH) Research Report No 4, March 2020, ANROWS.
    The 2016 Victorian Royal Commission into Family Violence found that adolescent family violence was poorly identified and had no considered systemic response. To help address this gap in knowledge, this report investigates the initial legal responses that adolescents and their families receive when they first come to the attention of the legal system. It compares legal and service sector interventions across three jurisdictions at very different stages of legislative, policy and definitional development – Victoria, Western Australia and Tasmania – focusing on awareness of adolescent family violence amongst practitioners and whether and how a legal response was provided. It also examines the characteristics of this form of violence and the impact of responses on families, using data from Victoria Legal Aid regarding 905 adolescents involved in either civil protection order matters or protection order breach matters. The study found that, across all three jurisdictions, current legal responses may not be addressing the objective of reducing risk to families and indeed may be deterring families from reporting.
  • Cox, Peta, ‘Violence against women in Australia: Additional analysis of the Australian Bureau of Statistics' Personal Safety Survey, 2012’ (Australia’s National Research Organisation for Women’s Safety Horizons, 2016 Rev.ed.).

    Section three: Women’s experiences of partner violence (from p76)

    • ‘Section three of this report provides a detailed examination of the PSS data relating to women’s experiences of partner violence. One in six women reported violence by a partner they had lived with (cohabiting partner) and one in four reported violence by a partner they may or may not have lived with (i.e. a combined total for cohabiting partner and boyfriend/girlfriend/date)’.
    • Young women (most of whom did not co-habit with their partner) were at a statistically significant increased risk of male intimate partner violence (33,500, 3.1%).
    Note: this article refers to an old release of the ABS’ Personal Safety Survey, but the analysis remains useful. See Australian Personal Safety Survey (PSS) 2016.
  • Flood, Michael, and Lara Fergus, An Assault on Our Future: The Impact of Violence on Young People and Their Relationships (Report, The White Ribbon Foundation, 2008).

    This report examines how violence against women specifically affects children and young people. It looks at the nature of violence they experience in their homes and their own relationships. Part 2 of this report focuses on ‘Dating and relationship violence among young people’. At pp17-18 the authors draw on ABS statistics, the Australian Longitudinal Study on Women’s Health and the National Crime Prevention Survey (2001) and reports:

    • 12 per cent of women aged 18–24 years experienced at least one incident of violence in the last 12 months, compared to 6.5 per cent of women aged 35–44 years and 1.7 per cent of women aged 55 years and over.
    • Among young women aged 18–23, 12 percent report that they have been in a violent relationship with a partner or spouse.
    • 14 per cent of young women said a boyfriend had tried to force them to have sex, and 6 per cent said a boyfriend had physically forced them to have sex.

    The authors note that inexperience, age differences in relationships and lack of access to services compound the problem of young women’s vulnerability to violence in relationships (p24-28).

    Relevant to the risk of perpetration of violence, the authors note that ‘Young people’s vulnerability to violence in relationships is heightened by strong peer norms, inexperience, age differences in relationships, and lack of access to services. Among young people, attitudes towards intimate partner violence are worst among younger males.’ (p3). Also see ‘Part Three: The causes of violence against girls and young women’ (from p24), noting study findings such as ‘In the survey of 12-20 year-olds above, boys aged 12 to 14 showed higher support for violence-supportive attitudes than older males (National Crime Prevention 2001: 75-95). Other Australian studies report similar results. In a Melbourne study for example, secondary school students had poorer attitudes towards rape victims and towards women than university students (Xenos and Smith 2001).’ (p24). It goes on to discuss reasons for these findings, such as peer cultures and developmental shifts in attitudes in young men.
  • Grech, Katrina, and Melissa Burgess, ‘Trends and Patterns in Domestic Violence Assaults: 2001 To 2010’ (Issue Paper 61, NSW Bureau of Crime Statistics and Research, 2011).

    Abstract: ‘Descriptive analyses were conducted on all incidents of domestic assault recorded by NSW Police between 2001 and 2010. Factors associated with reporting of offences to police were examined using the Australian Bureau of Statistics, Crime Victimisation Survey 2008-2009.

    Findings include that: males are more likely than females to be the offenders in both domestic (82.1% vs. 17.9%) and non-domestic assault (75.6% vs. 24.4%); and over 50 per cent of offenders were males between the ages of 18 and 39. (p7)
  • Indermaur, David, ‘Young Australians and Domestic Violence’ (2001) 196 Trends and Issues in Crime and Criminal Justice 1.
    This is a foundational article in Australia; many subsequent reports refer to this research. This paper draws on survey data collected from 5,000 Australians aged 12-20 years from all states and territories in Australia. 55.5 per cent of respondents report having been aware of male to female domestic violence occurring at some time. Almost 70 per cent of the young people surveyed had had a boyfriend or girlfriend at some stage and about one in three of these young people (both males and females) reported incidents in their personal relationships that could be defined as “physical violence”’ (p4). The research found that young people growing up in homes where there has been couple violence (both male and female carers perpetrating and being victimised by domestic violence) were more likely to be victims of relationship violence and perpetrators of violence in their intimate relationships. For example they were twice as likely to have been forced to have sex and four times as likely to have admitted forcing their partner to have sex (p4).
  • Morgan, Anthony, and Hannah Chadwick, ‘Key Issues in Domestic Violence’ (Summary Paper No 7, Australian Institute of Criminology, December 2009).

    This paper reviews relevant literature. It notes that young people’s vulnerability to intimate partner violence is increased by sexist and traditional gender role attitudes, peer culture, inexperience and attitudes supportive of violence that can be shaped by the media, pornography and early exposure to aggressive behaviour by parents or role models (p6).

    Specific to perpetration by young people, the paper notes that ‘Negative attitudes towards women are different across cultural groups and are influenced by culturally-specific norms and social relationships. However they are more commonly expressed among adolescent males than older males’ (p6).
  • Mouzos, Jenny, and Toni Makkai, ‘Women's Experience of Male Violence: Findings from the Australian Component of the International Violence Against Women Survey (IVAWS)’ (Research and Public Policy Series No 56, Australian Institute of Criminology, 2004).

    This paper reports on the findings of the International Violence Against Women Survey (IVAWS), which was conducted across Australia between December 2002 and June 2003. A total of 6,677 women aged between 18 and 69 years participated in the survey, and provided information on their experiences of physical and sexual violence including childhood violence. Quoting from ABS statistics the authors note that: ‘in terms of sexual assault specifically most victims of sexual assault are women aged 18 to 24 years (46%) and unmarried (80%)‘ (p28). The paper notes that age has been found to be the strongest predictor of risk, and prior research shows that younger women are victimised disproportionately to older women (p28). Also, the authors report that younger women experienced higher rates of violence by their current partners (between 3 and 7% for the 18-24 years age group), compared to older women (between 2 and 3% for women aged between 45 and 54 years) – see Table 10 (p57).

    In relation to perpetration of violence, the paper also reports that ‘Research suggests that violence in intimate relationships is related more to the characteristics of the male than the characteristics of the woman (Piispa 2000). Levels of violence according to the age of the male partners follow a similar pattern, with a higher proportion of males in the younger age group being violent towards their intimate partners’ (p56).


  • Dardis, Christina M et al, ‘An Examination of the Factors Related to Dating Violence Perpetration Among Young Men and Women and Associated Theoretical Explanations: A Review of the Literature’ (2015) 16(2) Trauma Violence and Abuse 136.
    Although focused on sex differences in the perpetration of dating violence, this paper discusses risk factors for dating violence in the context that while ‘Previous research suggests that although there are some similarities between young adult DV and marital IPV, there are also important differences’ (p139). It gives a thorough overview of the findings of literature in this area, and discusses numerous variables that may contribute to dating violence perpetration among young people such as historical, personal, interpersonal, and contextual variables.
  • Peacock, Dean and Emily Rothman, ‘Working with Young Men Who Batter: Current Strategies and New Directions’ (Violence Against Women National Online Resource Center, 2001).
    This paper provides an overview of teen dating violence and juvenile batterer intervention programmes. The authors note that the profile of the adolescent male perpetrator of dating violence is similar to that of other juvenile offenders in the criminal justice system, with experiences of child abuse and having witnessed domestic violence, substance use, sexist attitudes and peer compliance. The intervention programmes are implemented as alternatives or complements to incarceration, and intend to rehabilitate and re-educate the young person.
  • Peters, Jay, Todd K Shackleford and David M Buss, ‘Understanding Domestic Violence against Women: Using Evolutionary Psychology to Extend the Feminist Functional Analysis’ (2002) 17(2) Violence and Victims 255.

    This research tests the hypothesis posed by Wilson & Daly (1993) that one goal of male-perpetrated domestic violence is control over female sexuality, including the deterrence of infidelity. According to this hypothesis, domestic violence varies with women's reproductive value or expected future reproduction, declining steeply as women age. The study sample comprised 3,969 cases of male-perpetrated partner abuse reported to a single police precinct in a large urban area over a 14-year period. Results showed that (1) rates of domestic violence against women decrease as they age; (2) younger men are at greatest risk for perpetrating domestic violence; (3) younger, reproductive age women incur nearly 10 times the risk of domestic violence as do older, post-reproductive age women; & (4) the greater risk of domestic violence incurred by reproductive age women is not attributable solely to mateship to younger, more violent men.

    In its findings, this paper notes that, ‘An alternative explanation for the steady decrease in violence against women as they age is that young women tend to be mated to young men and young men are the most violent age-sex subset of the population. Men aged 16 to 24 years, for example, commit the majority of violent acts, including homicide (Wilson & Daly, 1985). The decrease in violence toward women as women age therefore may be attributable to the aging of men and not attributable to the aging of women.’ (p258) However, the authors also note that this hypothesis is not entirely supported by the data: while the youngest men are at greatest risk for perpetrating domestic violence, ‘[t]he victimization rate for the youngest women (15-24 years)—women at greatest risk for domestic violence—is highest for women mated to men two age categories older. Thus, the elevated risk of domestic violence for the youngest women cannot be attributed solely to mateship to younger, more violent men’ (p259).