The number of sexual assaults reported to police in Australia has grown for a tenth year.
There were 31,118 reports of sexual abuse across the country in 2021 – marking the highest number in 29 years of Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) data.
There was a spike in seven states and territories last year, with almost two thirds of all victims under the age of 18 when the sexual assault occurred.
The worrying statistics show a 13 per cent increase from 2020.
“The rate has risen from 83 to 121 victims per 100,000 people since 2011, and that accounts for population changes,” ABS head of crime and justice statistics William Milne said.
The biggest jump was seen in Queensland, with a 35 per cent increase last year.
There was a 12 per cent increase in reported sexual assaults in Victoria, while in Western Australia the numbers were up 17 per cent.
In the Northern Territory, reports went down by 4 per cent.
Two thirds of all reported assaults took place at a home or residential location, and more than a third were domestic and family violence-related.
Six times more women reported sexual assaults than men, at 22,669 and 11,367 respectively.
While the ABS accounts for sexual assault cases reported to police, experts believe the true number of cases could be far higher.
The data doesn’t reveal whether the increase in sexual assault cases reflects an increase in reporting to police.
The ABS said restrictions imposed during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic may have also influenced the reporting and prevalence of all crimes.