“National Crisis” as ABS crime data shows a 13% increase in sexual assaults

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“National Crisis” as ABS crime data shows a 13% increase in sexual assaults

28 July 2022
Sexual assault victimisation ratea 1993 2021 1
A line graph showing sexual assault victimisation rates from 1993 until 2021. The line rises sharply between 2020 and 2021.

Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) has just released 2021 crime statistics which has shown that sexual assaults have increased by 13% in the last year, with over 31,118 victims across Australia.

Reported sexual assaults have skyrocketed to an all-time high, the only major crime category to increase. ABS crime data has revealed that the rate of victimisation has increased from “69 to 121 victims per 100,000 persons in 2021.”

Director of Counselling Services for Full Stop Australia and sexual assault frontline worker, Tara Hunter, is concerned not just by the latest statistics, but the human cost.

“31,118 people were recorded as victims of sexual assault in 2021. We need to talk about the human cost, these are not just numbers, these are people,” Ms Hunter said.

“As a trauma-specialist counsellor, we know that many young people who experience sexual assault will have interruptions to their schooling, tertiary studies, their ability to work and their overall wellbeing.”

“As a trauma-specialist counsellor, we know that many young people who experience sexual assault will have interruptions to their schooling, tertiary studies, their ability to work and their overall wellbeing.”

“Unless these victims of sexual assault get the support to recover from this trauma, it will mean tens of thousands of people who will never realise their full potential and will be more at risk of future victimisation.”

“This is not just a one-off crisis response, these victim-survivors need ongoing trauma-specialist support to recover, rebuild and re-engage socially and economy.”

Full Stop Australia, a national service providing free, confidential, 24/7 trauma-specialist counselling to victims of sexual assault has noted that approximately half of callers to Full Stop Australia are under the age of 25 years old. In 2021 approximately 90% of the callers were calling this helpline for the first time.

Full Stop Australia CEO, Hayley Foster, said that she was unsurprised by these statistics, noting that these statistics are just a drop in the ocean.

“The latest ABS Personal Safety Survey shows that 87% of sexual assaults are never reported to police. These reported sexual assaults are only a drop in the ocean,” Ms Foster said.

“We also hold grave concerns for victims of sexual assault being able to access the support they need.”

“Currently 1 in 3 calls to our national trauma counselling helpline are being met with a voicemail due to lack of funding.”

“It is a national crisis that when someone discloses sexual assault, they are forced to wait months or years to get the support they need – and in some areas of Australia not be able to get the support they need at all,” Ms Foster said.

“Sexual assault services are not a luxury; they are an essential service.”

“We need national leadership to develop a plan to ensure that every state and territory can provide support to all victims of sexual assault. We are seeking a commitment that these service gaps be rectified as a matter of urgency.”

Key Statistics on sexual assault in 2021 from ABS data

  • Sexual assault recorded by police increased by 13% from 2020.
  • Since 1993, the rate of victimisation for sexual assault has increased from 69 to 121 victims per 100,000 persons in 2021. This is the highest rate of victimisation for sexual assault recorded by police across the twenty-nine-year time series.
  • Sexual assault increased in all states and territories except Northern Territory with a 35% increase in Queensland.
  • Around three in five victims (61%) were under 18 years of age at the date of incident.

Read the 2021 ABS crime statistics here.