The number of victims of sexual assault in New South Wales has skyrocketed to a 10-year high, according to new data from the Australian Bureau of Statistics.
Data from 2019, released on Thursday, shows an 8 per cent increase, from 10,241 victims in 2018 to 11,009 in 2019 – the highest number of victims in the past 10 years.
Of those, one in five were male – the largest proportion of male victims in the country.
Half of the male victims were under the age of 15, while more than a quarter of female victims were between 15 and 19 years old.
More than three-quarters of people knew their attacker, and 60 per cent of assaults took place at a home.
Nearly a third were acts of family violence.
The ACT was the only other state to record an increase, with their assault rate spiking by 18 per cent to a total of 327 victims in 2019.
Similarly to NSW, most victims were female and knew their attacker. More than a third of assaults were acts of family violence, and two-thirds of all attacks took place at a residence.
Our Watch CEO Patty Kinnersly told NCA NewsWire while it was a positive step that more victims appeared to be reporting assaults committed against them, domestic and family violence and sexual assault cases were still “vastly underreported”.
“Increased awareness and greater public discussion which enhances the community’s understanding of what constitutes violence against women is definitely a positive development,” she said.
“It wasn’t that long ago that domestic violence was seen as a ‘private’ issue not to be discussed in public.
“Greater reporting and awareness also mean that survivors will not feel stigmatised or discouraged from reporting their experiences and thus will add weight to the momentum required to make important legal and cultural changes that will continue to keep women safe.”
Ms Kinnersly added that more action needed to be taken to address the underlying drivers of violence against women, with prevention strategies that reach everyone in the community, before numbers would drop.
As NSW and the ACT grapple with their rising crime figures, sexual assaults in South Australia hit a four-year low.
SA Attorney-General Vickie Chapman attributed the drop, the first since 2016, to a new government focus on the issue.
“This government has been focused on implementing policies in the domestic and family violence space since being elected, and it’s pleasing to see some of these policies translating to lower rates of crime such as sexual assault,” she said.
Nationally, victims of robbery increased for the fourth consecutive year to 11,775 victims, and motor vehicle theft hit a seven-year high.