Putting family & domestic violence
on the agenda

Domestic and family violence is one of our most pressing societal issues and is pervasive across all cultural, socio-economic and age groups. It is a persistent law and order issue, a major health and welfare issue, and predominantly affects women and children.

NSW Bureau of Crime Statistics data shows that over the last 10 years, crime rates across 17 major crime categories have been in steady decline except for domestic violence assaults, indecent assault and sexual assault, all of which have remained static or, in some areas, have trended upwards. In Greater Western Sydney (GWS), rates of domestic, family and sexual violence are unacceptably high, pointing to the need for targeted resources and awareness-building across the region.

The impact of domestic violence on our community is substantial, and urgent attention is required to address the issue. The Western Sydney Leadership Dialogue does not purport to have all the answers to this complex issue, however we do believe that it deserves the utmost priority level among business, community and political leaders. To achieve this, it may be necessary for a Royal Commission into domestic and family violence, as occurred in Victoria, to thoroughly examine the extent of this issue, how we are tackling it and, importantly, where we are failing to do so.

Western Sydney’s Heavy Issue

Currently 63 per cent of adult Australians and 28 per cent of Australians aged 5 – 17 are overweight or obese. This places us in the worst third of OECD nations for obesity among people aged 15 and over , and ranks us as the fifth most overweight OECD nation overall. Between 1995 and 2015 the number of obese adults increased from 18.7 per cent to 27.9 per cent and the trend is accelerating . Between 2014 and 2017 the number of Australians living with obesity rose by 900,000.

As an individual’s weight climbs, so does their cost to the health system. Our Government spends 51 per cent more on those with a BMI of 35 and over (severely obese) than on those with a healthy BMI8 . The costs of being obese and overweight* include inpatient, emergency, outpatient, pharmaceutical and continuing allied health care associated with common diseases and conditions, but also the higher costs and longer recovery times associated with treating a range of other health issues experienced by people who are obese.

In 2011-12, obesity cost Australia an estimated $8.6 billion; $3.8 billion of it direct and $4.8 billion indirect. The cumulative cost of obesity by 2025 has been projected as high as $87.7 billion. The latest AIHW Burden of Disease modelling suggests that if every Australian instead maintained a normal BMI this cost would fall dramatically alongside the prevalence of obesity’s comorbidities: as diabetes would drop by 53 per cent, for example, chronic kidney disease by 38 per cent, heart disease by 25 per cent and stroke by 22 per cent.