Motives for homicide

The Australian Institute of Criminology has collected data and reported on homicides in Australia since 1989. Homicide includes murder, manslaughter and infanticide, but excludes driving-related fatalities unless these occur in the course of a criminal event. In 2003-04 there were 288 incidents involving 305 victims of homicide. The figure below shows a breakdown of the alleged motive of offenders for these homicides. The motive is the alleged primary causal factor that precedes and often leads to the events, the outcome of which is the death of the victim/s. Excluding cases with no apparent motive, female victims of homicide are overwhelmingly most likely to have been killed as a result of a domestic argument and/or the breakdown of a relationship. Male victims are more likely than female victims to have been killed where motives were linked to revenge, money/drugs, and alcohol related arguments.

Homicide victims by alleged motive, per cent, 2003-04 [see attached PDF for graph]


  • Australian Institute of Criminology. National Homicide Monitoring Program 2003-2004 [computer file]


  • Mouzos J 2005. Homicide in Australia : 2003-2004 National Homicide Monitoring Program (NHMP) annual report. Research and public policy series no. 66. Canberra: Australian Institute of Criminology.