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New facts about Indigenous homicides

Media Release

01 August 2001

In the eleven year period from 1989 to 2000 the rate of Indigenous homicide victimisation has declined significantly from 13 per 100,000 Indigenous persons to 9 per 100,000. In contrast, the non-Indigenous homicide victimisation rate varied between 1.3 and 1.8 per 100,000 during same period.

A report released today by the Australian Institute of Criminology examines the similarities and differences between the 440 Indigenous and the 3571 non-Indigenous homicides in Australia during the 11-year period.

"The 'typical' Indigenous homicide in Australia differs from other homicides in important ways", said Dr Adam Graycar, AIC Director. "This report, based on data from the National Homicide Monitoring Program, provides us, for the first time, with current indepth information on the characteristics of Indigenous homicides in Australia. It is an important contribution to the current debate on violence in Indigenous Australia".

It finds:

  • Sixty-one per cent of Indigenous homicides occurred between family members, whereas 33% of non-Indigenous homicides occurred between family members. 12 (2.7%) Indigenous persons were killed by a stranger compared to 756 (21.2%) non-Indigenous persons.
  • A greater proportion of Indigenous homicides than non-Indigenous homicides involved one-on-one interactions (83.4% and 58.5% respectively), and were less likely to result in multiple fatalities (3.7% and 11.1% respectively).
  • Indigenous homicides were significantly more likely than non-Indigenous homicides to involve a female as either a victim or an offender.
  • Significantly fewer Indigenous victims are killed with a firearm - 5.7% compared to 20.8% of non-Indigenous victims. Knives were the most common weapon of choice for both Indigenous and non-Indigenous homicides.
  • Just over 4 out of 5 Indigenous homicides (83.4%) compared to 2 out of 5 non-Indigenous homicides (38.6%) involved either the victim or offender, or both, drinking at the time of the homicide incident.

These findings have significant implications for policy and violence prevention.