Australian Institute of Criminology

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Australian homicides 2008-2010

Media release

20 February 2013

The Australian Institute of Criminology today released the 21st National Homicide Monitoring Program annual report which shows that Australia’s homicide rate remains at historic lows.

There were a total of 510 homicide incidents across the two years—253 in 2008–09 and 257 in 2009–10 which involved 541 victims and 611 offenders.

Manager of the Violence and Other Serious Crime Monitoring Program, Mr Jason Payne said: “Although the homicide rate has reached its lowest point since the NHMP commenced in 1989, the crime is still a major issue of both public safety and law enforcement.”

“While the proportion of homicides committed with a firearm has dropped to an historic low of 13%, the proportion of people dying from stab wounds has increased from 30% to 41% over the last 10 years,” Mr Payne said.

Deaths resulting from a stabbing were more common where the offender and the victim shared a domestic (43%) or acquaintance relationship (42%). Homicides where the offender was unknown to the victim were more likely to involve beatings (52%) than any other method of killing.  

“The other big element in almost half the recorded homicides was alcohol (47%) while one in five (20%) involved drugs,” Mr Payne said.

Another area for concern is the number of homicides occurring in the home over the last two years (36% of all homicides; n=185), with a considerable proportion preceded by a domestic argument (49%; n=90). Homicides involving intimate partners represent two in every three domestic homicides (66%; n=122), and almost a quarter of all homicides nationally (24%).

The majority of these domestic homicides involved women killed by their male partner (73%, n=89) and, as such, these data underscore the need for ongoing efforts to reduce violence against women and children, particularly within the home.  

The NHMP is compiled through police and coroners reports and represents an accurate historic trend line of this crime.

Despite having one of the lowest total number of homicides nationally, when standardised by population size, the Northern Territory had the highest homicide rate (4.9 per 100,000 in 2008–09 and 5.7 per 100,000 in 2009–10).

Overall, in 2008–09, Victoria recorded the lowest rate (0.9 per 100,000) of homicide in Australia, while the ACT recorded the lowest rate (0.8 per 100,000) in 2009–10.

NSW had 153 homicides over the two years with a rate of 1.1 per 100,000. South Australia and Tasmania were slightly higher than the national rate (1.2 per 100,000).

Of all the homicide victims throughout the 2008–09 and 2009–10 financial years, 60 were identified as Indigenous Australians—34 males and 26 females. While the rate of Indigenous homicide victimisation reached its lowest point for both males and females in 2009–10, since 1981, when analysis began, the rates were still four times higher than for non-Indigenous Australians.

Fifty-five percent of all Indigenous homicide victims were killed in a domestic homicide, of which the most common subcategory was intimate partner homicide (42%).

The report is available at www.aic.gov.au

FOR COMMENT:Colin Campbell , 0418 159 525