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Australia reports lowest number of homicides in nine years

Media Release

11 February 1999

Last year Australia recorded the lowest number of homicides since the Australian Institute of Criminology began the National Homicide Monitoring Program in 1989.

Preliminary analysis from the Australian Institute of Criminology for 1997/98 indicates that there were 297 homicide incidents and 311 homicide victims.

In approximately 80 per cent of all homicide incidents the victim and the offender were known to each other. Homicides involving intimate partners comprised 23 per cent of all homicides last year.

"These are the first findings from the latest collection by our Homicide Monitoring program. Given the high proportion of homicides which are family-related or where the victim and assailant were known to each other, it appears that violence is used too often to solve emotional issues", said AIC Director, Dr Adam Graycar.

"The policy thrust to address such issues needs to be in terms of broad-based violence prevention and violence management."

"The full figures will be released, and these issues discussed, at our 3rd National Outlook Symposium on Crime in Australia on 22-23 March in Canberra", Dr Graycar said.

Rates of victimisation from 1 July 1989 - 30 June 1998 have remained quite stable, fluctuating between 1.7 and 2.0 per 100 000 population, with 1996/97 and 1997/98 recording the lowest victimisation rate of 1.7 per 100 000 population.

The proportion of male to female victims (approx 2:1) has also remained relatively constant.

Homicide incidents in Victoria have nearly halved since monitoring began in 1989/90 from 79 to 44.

The Northern Territory victimisation rate decreased by more than half from 12.4 per 100 000 population in 1995/96 to 5.3 in 1997/98.

During 1997/98, most homicides (36 per cent) occurred in NSW followed by Queensland, where one quarter of all homicides occurred.

  • Recorded homicides in Australia average approx one per day.
  • Australia's overall homicide rate has remained relatively steady over the past 25 years.
  • On an international level, Australia's homicide rate in 1997/8 was:
    • twice the rate in Japan;
    • slightly higher than the rate in England and Wales and Germany;
    • similar to the rate in Canada and NZ; and
    • almost a quarter of the rate in the United States.

    Homicide is one of the many topics being discussed at the Australian Institute of Criminology's National Outlook Symposium on Crime in Australia to be held in Canberra, 22-23 March 1999.

    Australia, homicide victimisation rates per 100 000 population1 July 1989 - 30 June 1998
    homicide victimisation rates

    Australia, homicide victims by gender, 1 July 1989 - 30 June 1998
    89-9090-9191-9292-9393-9494-9595-9696-9797-98
    Males 215 204 201 218 217 219 231 208 198
    Females 114 147 129 141 123 121 128 111 113
    Total* 329 351 330 359 340 340 359 319 311
    *with this table the total for each year excludes any case where gender was not recorded.
    Australia, homicide incidents and victim, 1 July 1989 - 30 June 1998
    89-9090-9191-9292-9393-9494-9595-9696-9797-98
    Incident 306 323 313 331 323 327 303 298 297
    Victim 330 351 330 360 342 343 359 319 311