Australian Institute of Criminology

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Executive summary

In this National Homicide Monitoring Program (NHMP) report, the nature and context of homicides occurring throughout the 2010–11 and 2011–12 financial years are described. Although much of the data are presented in the aggregate, figures for each financial year are provided in some circumstances to aid the monitoring of trends. Ongoing monitoring of homicide locates short-term changes within a longer timeframe and enables policymakers and law enforcement personnel to identify changes in risk markers associated with incidents, victims and offenders.

The results presented in this report are consistent with previous NHMP reports but demonstrate some fluctuation across various characteristics of homicide. Overall, the number of homicides generally continues to decline over time.

Key findings from this report include:

  • From 1 July 2010 to 30 June 2012, there were a total of 479 homicide incidents—236 in 2010–11 and 243 in 2011–12.
  • These incidents involved 511 victims and 532 offenders—247 victims and 260 offenders in 2010–11 and 264 victims and 272 offenders in 2011–12.
  • Since 2001–02, there has been a downward trend in the homicide rate, decreasing from 1.8 per 100,000 to 1.1 in the 2010–11 and 2011–12 financial years.
  • Males continued to be overrepresented as both victims (n=328; 64%) and offenders (n=453; 85%).
  • Female victimisation reached an historic low and remained stable across 2010–11 (n=90) and 2011–12 (n=92), with a rate of 0.8 per 100,000. However, females remain overrepresented as victims of intimate partner homicide.
  • Knives continue to be the most commonly used weapon, with 42 percent (n=98) of all homicide incidents in 2010–11 involving knives/sharp instruments. This decreased to 33 percent (n=79) in 2011–12.
  • During the period between 2010–11 and 2011–12, approximately one in 10 (n=69; 14%) homicide incidents involved the use of a firearm.
  • The most common relationship between homicide offender and victim throughout 2010–11 and 2011–12 was domestic (39%; n=187), closely followed by friends/acquaintance homicide (36%; n=175). Stranger homicides (including persons known for less than 24 hours) comprised 11 percent (n=51) of homicides.
  • Of the 187 domestic homicide incidents recorded between July 2010 and June 2012, 58 percent (n=109) were classified as intimate partner homicide, 18 percent as filicides (n=34; 9 of which involved the death of a child under one year of age), 12 percent as parricides (n=22) and three percent as siblicides (n=6).
  • Eighty-five homicide victims throughout 2010–11 and 2011–12 were identified as being Indigenous Australians (56 males, 28 females and 1 sex unspecified). Although the number of Indigenous and non-Indigenous victims were similar (67 cf 64 for Indigenous and non-Indigenous males; 33 cf 35 for Indigenous and non-Indigenous females), according to victimisation rates, Indigenous people continue to be overrepresented. At a national level, the rate of Indigenous victimisation in 2011–12 (5.0 per 100,000) was five times higher than non-Indigenous victimisation (1.0 per 100,000).
  • Sixty-one children aged 17 years and younger were killed throughout the period.
  • More than one in 10 (n=72; 15%) homicides were committed during the course of another crime, including robbery (n=17; 4%), followed by drug offences (n=14; 3%).