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Sexual assault is a major health and welfare issue in Australia and worldwide. For many victims, the effects can be wide-ranging and lifelong.

According to the 2016 Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) Personal Safety Survey (PSS):

  • almost 2 million Australian adults had experienced at least 1 sexual assault since the age of 15
  • more than 200,000 (1.1%) Australian adults had experienced sexual assault in the 12 months before the survey—an increase from 2012 (0.7%)
  • around 639,000 Australian women experienced their most recent incident of sexual assault perpetrated by a male in the last 10 years.

In 2018–19, the majority of sexual assault offenders recorded by police were male (97%); males aged 15–19 had the highest offender rates (102.9 per 100,000) of any age group (based on ABS 2020a). Over half (57%) of offenders found guilty of perpetrating sexual assault were sentenced to custody in a correctional institution (based on ABS 2020b).

Drawing together available national data sources, this report provides a summary of sexual assault in Australia. However, several notable data gaps exist, including data on a range of health services and other crisis and long-term service responses.

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