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Tuesday, 8 February 2005
Page: 224

Senator Stott Despoja asked the Minister for Family and Community Services, upon notice, on 17 November 2004:

With reference to the 1988 Australian study, ‘Domestic violence: Costing of service provision for female victims—20 case histories’ in the report of the Queensland Domestic Violence Task Force, Beyond These Walls, which showed that health service costs constituted the greatest community service cost for victims of domestic violence; and with further reference to another study conducted by the Department of Psychiatry, University of Queensland, at the Royal Brisbane Hospital Emergency Department from 1990 to 1993 which showed that one in five women who presented at emergency departments had a history of domestic violence:

(1)   Given the difficulty in obtaining information and taking medical privacy into consideration: (a) how many women arriving in emergency wards need treatment for injuries resulting from domestic disputes; and (b) what associated health service costs are due to domestic violence.

(2)   Given that there has never been a national survey conducted in Australia on women presenting in emergency departments with a history of domestic violence, does the Government intend to conduct a national survey to facilitate the process of information gathering.

Senator Patterson (Minister for Family and Community Services and Minister Assisting the Prime Minister for Women’s Issues) —The answer to the honourable senator’s question is as follows:

(1) (a)   There is no national data on how many women arrive in emergency wards needing treatment for injuries arising from domestic disputes.

(b)   The 2004 Access Economics study, The Costs of Domestic Violence to the Australian Economy, estimates the hospital costs for the victims of domestic violence to be $145 million. This figure includes both admitted and non-admitted patients, and includes apportioned costs for conditions that may be attributed to domestic violence, such as suicide, homicide, physical injuries, anxiety, depression, eating disorders, smoking, alcohol abuse, drug use, cervical cancer, syphilis, chlamydia, gonorrhoea and other STDs.

(2)   The Government is not intending to conduct a national survey on women presenting in emergency departments at this stage. However, the Government is committed to better understanding the impact of domestic violence and has announced that it will conduct a national Personal Safety Survey in 2005-06. This survey will gather data on a wide range of issues concerning the safety of women (and men).