The multi-billion-dollar cost of violence in Australia

The cost of violence is measured in more than just emotional pain and physical scars. There is a financial side to it as well, with figures reaching far into the tens of billions of dollars per year, including law fees, hospital costs, and thousands of lost man hours.

According to the Foundation of Alcohol Research and Education, alcohol-related assaults are one of the main causes of violence-related costs. On average, there are 70,000 alcohol-related assaults in Australia each year. They cost us a shocking $36 billion dollars – most of it related to lost productivity and medical costs.

But it’s just not violence caused by alcohol that is proving to be costing us a pretty penny. The Department of Families, Housing, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs has revealed that violence against women and their children has an annual cost of nearly $13.6 billion dollars, with figures continuing to rise. Estimates show that if these trends continue, some 750,000 women could be reporting a domestic abuse case by 2021, further increasing these costs.

Domestic violence as well as alcohol-induced street violence usually falls within the realm of interpersonal violence, which by the World Health Organization’s definition “includes violence between family members and intimate partners and violence between acquaintances and strangers that is not intended to further the aims of any formally defined group or cause.”

While there is no precise number for Australia yet, it has been noted by the WHO that interpersonal violence costs the UK some $40.2 billion annually, and the U.S. around $200+ billion.

With each passing year, the incidence of alcohol-related street violence and domestic violence cases seems to be increasing. Victoria alone has seen a 37% increase in alcohol-related injuries over the last decade. That means a 37% increase in cost as well.

Violence affects each and every one of us. We all know someone who has been the victim of senseless violence. Not only do they bear the emotional and physical scars, but as a society we pay billions of dollars to cover the financial cost caused by people who should have just walked away. Imagine where else that money could be spent and how much good it could do…