Australian Institute of Criminology

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Family homicide in Australia

Media Release

19 June 2003

In a paper released today by the Australian Institute of Criminology it was reported that over a 13 year period there were an average of 129 family homicides each year. The majority occurred between intimate partners (60 per cent) and three-quarters of intimate partner homicides involved males killing their female partners. More than half of intimate homicides stemmed from a domestic altercation between the victim and the offender.

"The family in most cases provides a nurturing and loving environment. But for a minority, the family environment can be deadly", said Dr Adam Graycar, AIC Director when releasing the paper. "In Australia almost two in five homicides occur between family members", he said.

The paper also found:

  • Over the 13-year period there were on average, 25 children killed by their parents (filicides) each year, with 68 per cent of all victims aged five years or younger. Just under half of all filicide victims were killed with assaultive force (46 per cent) yet the motive was not clear in 61 percent of cases.
  • There were about 12 parricides (children killing their parents) committed annually, with a knife or other sharp instrument being the most common weapon used (44 per cent). A domestic argument was the most prevalent motive for parricide (49 per cent).
  • There were on average about six homicides between siblings (siblicide) in Australia each year, with four out of five siblicides involving the killing of a brother. A domestic argument was the most common motive (42 per cent), with a knife or other sharp instrument the most common weapon used (41 per cent).