SA Police data shows slight fall in domestic violence incidents but spikes in murder, serious assault

Murders, assaults causing injuries and property damage related to domestic violence have risen in South Australia, but latest figures show a slight fall in total incidents for the first time.

SA Police have analysed crimes reported in 2018-19 to reveal 10,645 were connected to abuse in relationships and families.

While there were spikes in some types of offences, the total number dropped slightly from 10,864 the previous year.

Serious assaults listed as not causing a physical injury remained the most common crime (4104 reports), but the category includes offences like suffocation or strangulation which can cause internal damage without leaving an external mark.

Property damage accounted for more than 1900 offences, followed by more than 1800 common assaults.

Three people were murdered by a partner or family member last financial year, one more than in 2017-18.

Crimes which fell slightly included sexual assaults, abduction, harassment and trespass.

SA Police Assistant Commissioner Scott Duval hoped the “slight decrease” overall was “a downward trend that will continue”.

SA Police Assistant Commissioner Scott Duval, Picture: AAP/Mike Burton
SA Police Assistant Commissioner Scott Duval, Picture: AAP/Mike Burton

“However police are mindful that, with growing … awareness of the desire of police to take action, more victims may feel comfortable to report,” he said.

Belinda Halliday, deputy co-chair of the Coalition of Women’s Domestic Violence Services SA, said it was “deeply concerning” that serious assaults which did cause a physical injury had spiked (from 205 to 999) and “three people were murdered”.

Ms Halliday said recent changes to allow police video evidence in domestic violence court cases were even more important “in the light of this data”.

Flinders University social work lecturer Dr Kate Seymour said it was important to track the figures but warned that “most incidents of domestic and family violence continue to go unreported”.

“There are a whole range of reasons why this is so including fear, embarrassment, previous contact with police,” she said.

Crimes were more often reported if they were witnessed by children, involved a weapon or resulted in physical injury, she said.

Reports of domestic violence-related crimes in South Australia

[Selected offences, 2017-18, 2018-19]


  • Murder, 2, 3


  • Serious Assault (not resulting in injury), 5047, 4104


  • Serious Assault (resulting in injury), 205, 999


  • Common assault, 1857, 1814


  • Property damage (excluding fire), 1816, 1929


  • Threatening behaviour, 380, 313


  • Aggravated sexual assault, 423, 341


  • Trespass (in a home), 239, 150


  • Assault police, 2, 74


Source: SA Police

Not all reports led to charges or convictions and offenders could be responsible for multiple incidents.

The gender of offenders or victims was not available but research consistently shows the majority of abusers are men.

The postcode covering Ceduna, the Nullarbor, Yatala and Penong recorded the highest rate of domestic violence-related crimes, at 53 incidents per 1000 people.

Across Gepps Cross, Dry Creek and Cavan the rate was 25 per 1000 and it ranged between 16 and 19 across a swath of northern suburbs including Elizabeth and Davoren Park.


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