The stats show the number of police recorded victims of sexual assault increased by 13 per cent in 2021, with the exact figures coming to a frightening number of 31,118 sexual assaults in 2021.
Head of crime and justice statistics at ABS, William Milne, said it’s the largest number of sexual assaults recorded by police in the 29 years of ABS crime data, with increases in seven states and territories.
ABS releases Australia-wide data annually and has found that most sexual assault victim-survivors report the incident to a police within a year.
“The rate has risen from 83 to 121 victims per 100,000 people since 2011, and that accounts for population changes,” says Milne.
Over the past 30 years, this change in rate makes for a 75 per cent increase in the rate of victimisation.
In terms of gender percentages on sexual assaults, female-victim survivors fared far worse than males, with six times more cases than male-victim survivors. The exact numbers were 26,669 recorded sexual assaults compared to 4,350.
Extremely concerning was the finding that almost two-thirds (61 per cent) of victim-survivors were under the age of 18 when the sexual assault occurred.
The findings from ABS also reveal that most sexual assault cases are not taking place on unfamiliar territory with 67 per cent of them occurring at residential locations – equating to about 20,000 victims. And alarmingly, over a third, or 37 per cent, were recorded as family and domestic violence-related cases, affecting 11,367 victim-survivors.
Over the past 10 years, the rate of police recording of sexual assaults has been steadily increasing, but the data doesn’t reveal whether the rise in cases reflects an increase in reporting to police or an increase in sexual assaults.
While the ABS accounts for sexual assault cases reported to police, experts believe unreported sexual assaults could make numbers much higher.
The bureau’s Milne says about 87 per cent of sexual assaults were not reported to police, meaning the true number could be significantly more than the 31,118 reported to police in 2021.
If you or anyone you know is in need or crisis please call the National Sexual Assault, Domestic and Family Violence Counselling Service on 1800 RESPECT (1800 737 732) or Lifeline 131 114.