SHOCKING STATISTICS: A new report, which is a public submission to the Victorian Royal Commission into Family Violence, estimates that if no further action is taken to prevent violence against women, the costs will accumulate to $323.4 billion over the thirty years to 2045. Violence against women and their children is costing Australia $21.7 billion each year, with governments carrying more than a third of the cost burden; as shown in the report “A High Price to Pay: The Economic Case For Preventing Violence Against Women” released today by PwC partner James van Smeerdijk, VicHealth CEO Jerril Rechter and Our Watch Director of Policy and Evaluation, Dr Lara Fergus.
The cost of pain, suffering and premature mortality constitutes the largest proportion of the total cost of all violence at 48 per cent, equating to $10.4 billion.
Governments, both State and Commonwealth, then bear 36 per cent, or $7.8 billion, in order to deliver health services, criminal justice and social welfare for victims.
Economically, $3.4 billion is lost either due to victims or other members of society funding for their own services or due to lost opportunity costs.
Prevention strategies have a proven effect on levels of violence.
If we engage the whole community in prevention and give them skills for respectful relationships, we will reduce the costs associated with violence.
“Putting a dollar number on a problem that is about the wellbeing and safety of human beings may seem a bit impersonal, but it’s important we continue to shine the spotlight on the shocking size of the domestic violence problem in Australia and its many social, economic and fiscal impacts including,” Mrvan Smeerdijk said.
The report, which is a public submission to the Victorian Royal Commission into Family Violence, estimates that if no further action is taken to prevent violence against women, the costs will accumulate to $323.4 billion over the thirty years to 2045.
“This is not just an issue for the community. It is a workplace issue and employers also have a role to play. Our report shows the magnitude of the problem, and it also shows the major benefits from investing in primary prevention,” Mr van Smeerdijk said.
The report reviewed what works in prevention and found two areas where there has been sufficient time and investment in evaluation to quantify the reduction in prevalence of violence against women, community mobilisation and individual and direct participation.
If a similar reduction in violence against women were achieved as has been the case for other community mobilisation programs, the benefits would range from $35.6 million to $71.1million over a lifetime.
“Although there is no single cause of violence against women, substantial evidence indicates that higher levels of violence against women are consistently associated with lower levels of gender equality in both public life and personal relationships.
For example, one recent major study found higher gender inequality predicted higher levels of intimate partner violence across 44 countries,” Our Watch police and evaluation director Dr Lara Fergus said.
“The intrinsic link between gender inequality and violence against women is now well understood and primary prevention offers a way to address them together.”
Prevention activities in a range of places including schools, workplaces and sporting organisations are essential in addressing the stereotypes and gender imbalances deeply embedded in our culture.
“This report shows that the benefits of improving equality between women and men will be felt by everyone in our community, not just victims, into the future,” VicHealth CEOJerril Rechter said.
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