Skip to main content
Start of main content.

Addressing the ripple effects of domestic violence in Australia

by Assistant Professor Gaelle Brotto

Queensland’s domestic violence figures paint a seriously grim picture. 

Assistant Professor Gaelle Brotto on campus
Assistant Professor Gaelle Brotto

It was reported last month that 24 people were allegedly murdered by their intimate partners or a family member in the Sunshine State during the 2022-2023 financial year compared to 16 the previous year. 

Alarmingly, a third of these alleged perpetrators had been either subject to a domestic violence order or had police encounters in the 12 months preceding the deaths. 

If you are anything like me, you’ll examine any page of troubling statistics and wonder why they read the way they do.  

We talk about a 50 percent increase based on raw numbers, but we should also account for Queensland’s rising population when comparing year-on-year figures.  

Indeed, the most recent census data reveals in the five years to 2021, some 107,500 people moved to Queensland and according to the Australian Institute of Criminology (2023) report of domestic homicide incidents have overall decreased by 56 percent since 1989-1990. 

Despite this demographic shift, these are confronting figures.  

These statistics not only reflect a societal scourge but also underscore the profound, lasting mental health ramifications for a group of innocent victim survivors. 

I speak about the children who so often bear silent witness to domestic violence in any of its terrible forms, from intimidation to coercive control right through the most extreme acts of physical violence. 

Recent research, released in April 2023, namely the Australian Child Maltreatment Study (ACMS), shed lights on this problem, which I think should become a real national concern. 

The study is globally significant as one of the most comprehensive on child maltreatment ever undertaken.  

From a large survey group of 8500 participants, 62.2 percent had experienced at least one form of child maltreatment, with 39.6 percent experiencing exposure to domestic violence before the age of 18. 

The findings echo the urgency highlighted in the 2015 “Not Now, Not Ever” report, and the subsequent analyses by the Women’s Safety and Justice Taskforce that was implemented in 2021. 

Given the undeniable link between childhood maltreatment and later mental health issues such as depression, anxiety, and PTSD, a comprehensive approach focusing on the welfare of children before, during, and after exposure is imperative. 

Especially because of the well-established “cycle of violence”, wherein children exposed to domestic violence are at a higher risk of becoming either victims or perpetrators in adulthood.  

This necessitates not only raising awareness and understanding within the community but also enhancing primary prevention strategies. 

And we need to listen to Queensland’s domestic violence support services who agree that the recommendations and on-the-ground initiatives from these various reports need to be implemented in consistent and connected ways if these homicides are to be reduced. 

That said, there are many good people in authority and outside of it trying their best to prevent domestic violence, but all have limited resources to properly attend to years of aftermath. 

How are years of counselling funded and how are these kids given the care and attention they need to piece their lives back together and how and why do we let this keep happening? 

As a civilised society we must drive change by investing in and strengthening the services available to this vulnerable population. 

And we also need to consider the plight of offenders who have experienced childhood maltreatment themselves, also known as the “victim-offender overlap”, underscoring the need for targeted support programs that address the root causes of their behaviour.  

Integrating rehabilitative services for these individuals is critical to breaking the cycle of violence and fostering a society where domestic violence is unequivocally condemned. 

While numerous efforts are underway to combat domestic violence, the transition from policy to practice remains a significant hurdle.  

A collective push towards changing community attitudes, bolstering victim support services, and enhancing the justice system's response is crucial.  

For a society that prides itself on civility, the time to act is now—to ensure our actions resonate louder than our words and to offer a beacon of hope for the most vulnerable, especially our children. 

Australia, we need to do better for our children if one day we want to break this cycle. 

Assistant Professor Gaelle Brotto specialises in the study of intimate partner violence and childhood maltreatment.

More from Bond

  • The Entrepreneurial Transformation of Tobias Street

    Alumna Tobias Street gradated with a Bachelor of Entrepreneurial Transformation and is now putting his skills to work in a role that's close to his heart.

    Read article
  • Investing and the new Bitcoin buzz

    The Bitcoin 'halving' is almost here, so what does that mean for investors and the future of Bitcoin?

    Read article
  • Culture war diminishes sustainable living need

    Most people would prefer to see much less animal suffering in the world so why is there so much resentment towards those trying to do something about it?

    Read article
  • Bull Sharks triumph at Aussie championships

    Sprinters Flynn Southam and Mikayla Bird stunned the field with big wins in the 400m freestyle, kickstarting a gold rush for the Bull Sharks.

    Read article
  • Curves for creativity: How round spaces elevate mood and spark innovation

    New research has revealed curved or round rooms enhance positive mood, make us calmer and boost creativity.

    Read article
Previous Next