Report highlights increase in domestic violence, sexual assault in Hunter

DOMESTIC assaults in the Hunter Valley (excluding Newcastle) region increased by 43 percent in the five years to September 2023, according to a report from the NSW Bureau of Crime Statistics and Research (BOCSAR).

Comparatively, domestic assaults in the Capital Region rose 53 percent, the Mid North Coast was up 49 percent, and Coffs Harbour/Clarence was up 72 percent.

Non‐domestic violence related assault in the Hunter Valley was up 28.8 percent, while sexual assault was up by 27 percent.

BOSCAR’s report covers a range of different crime categories, including property-related.

BOSCAR’s Acting Executive Director, Suzanne Poynton, said in the two years to September 2023, eight of the thirteen major crime categories showed significant upward trends statewide.

She said that for the most part, those upward trends reflected a recovery from COVID-related crime falls.

“As has been previously reported, the rate of offending for many crimes was significantly interrupted by the pandemic,” Ms Poynton said.

“Reports of domestic and sexual violence are higher now than five years ago, but most major property crimes still remain well below pre-pandemic levels.”

She said the figures were open to interpretation and could reflect a real increase in the number of domestic violence incidents and sexual assaults, but they could also reflect an increase in the willingness of people to report to police.

“We know there has been greater public awareness around domestic violence, which might mean people are reporting more now to police than they have previously,” Ms Poynton said.

“Police are also being pretty proactive in terms of policing and enforcing domestic violence and they may detect more crimes in the course of that policing activity, which could also push the number of reports up.”

A spokesperson for NSW Police said the rise in sexual assault incidents was consistent with long-term trends for the crime type and a reflection of increased reporting across the state.

“Numerous recent campaigns relating to reporting sexual violence, as well as the publicity surrounding the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse, are believed to have helped increase awareness and instil confidence in victims of sexual assault to come forward.

“In line with this, it should be noted that a significant proportion of sexual offences reported in the period are historical in nature.”

Despite this progress, NSW Police say sexual violence remains one of the most under-reported crimes in NSW.

“NSW Police acknowledge the courage it takes for victims of sexual violence to come forward and are not only committed to seeking out justice for victims, but also ensuring they are appropriately supported and have access to services to address the inevitable trauma that comes with being a victim of these sorts of crimes.

“With this in mind, we encourage anyone who is a victim to come forward and report the incident to police as soon as possible.

“Our priority will always be ensuring the safety and wellbeing of victims, and encouraging the reporting of sexual crimes, so we can effectively disrupt, prevent and ultimately end sexual violence in NSW.”

According to the spokesperson, the NSW Police Force implements a number of practical strategies to target domestic violence offenders, support victims and reduce recidivism.

“Police will respond to all domestic and family violence incidents reported to them, regardless of who made the report, or where, when, why or how it was made.

“We have specially trained officers in the Northern Region Area Command who target high-risk and repeat offenders to ensure they are complying with relevant orders.”

The full BOCSAR September quarterly update can be found at

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