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Homicide rate stable - knives the consistent weapon of choice

Media Release

12 February 2001

New figures from the National Homicide Monitoring Program (NHMP) released today show that the overall homicide victimisation rate has remained relatively stable in Australia for 1999-2000.

In releasing the paper, Homicide in Australia 1999-2000, Dr Adam Graycar, Director of the AIC noted that apart from significant incidents involving multiple victims (such as Strathfield, Port Arthur, Childers) the homicide victimisation rate has remained relatively stable in Australia over the past 11 years. Dr Graycar said "The overall rate for 1999-2000 is in line with recorded rates in previous years, though a fall in the Northern Territory homicide rate was observed (from averages over 10 per 100,000 population in previous years to 3.09 per 100,000 in 1999-2000)".

Key points from the paper include:

During the year from 1 July 1999 to 30 June 2000, a total of 300 homicide incidents occurred in Australia, perpetrated by 324 identified offenders and resulting in the death of 337 persons. This represents a homicide victimisation rate of 1.8 per 100,000 for 1999-2000.

In 1999-2000, as in previous years, the highest proportion of homicide victims were killed with a knife or other sharp instrument (29.1%). Assaultive force (using hands and feet) ranked second (24.0%), and homicide by firearm third (19.3%, representing 65 victims).

Also in line with earlier findings, some two-fifths (39.8%) of homicides in 1999-2000 involving an identified offender took place within the family (intimates and family combined). Over half were between spouses, both current and separated, including de facto and other intimate relationships. Nearly 13% involved non-intimate family relationships, with a similar rate for persons regarded as "friends" (12.7%), and a higher rate involving acquaintances (31.5%). A slightly lower rate of homicides committed by strangers was observed for 1999-2000 than in previous years.

Racial, gender and age characteristics, and marital and employment status of homicide victims and offenders showed little change from previous years. Males outnumbered females as both homicide victims (59.9%) and offenders (84.6%) during 1999-2000, and both victims and offenders were unlikely to be employed at the time of the incident. A significant proportion of homicides involved consumption of alcohol (33.3% of victims) and/or illicit drugs (24.3%).