CONTENT WARNING: This story discusses sexual assault.

The number of sexual assault offenders has risen 13 per cent in the last decade and more than 97 per cent of them were men according to new Australian Bureau of Statistics crime data published on Wednesday.

As recorded by police, the male sexual assault offender rate has increased from 46 per 100,000 men to 52 per 100,000 (adjusted for population growth) between 2010 and 2020.

That’s more than 53,000 individual offenders.

The number of offences is no doubt much higher as 27 per cent of offenders were proceeded against by police more than once in a 12-month period (for any offence) in those 10 years.

The other gaping hole here is police data doesn’t taken into account the thousands of cases that went unreported.

While this report shows a 13 per cent increase in sexual assault offenders, data released by the ABS in 2020 shows there was a 22 per cent increase in the number of female survivors reporting sexual assault in the same time period. 

It also found 2.2 million Australian women had experienced sexual assault, and only 13 per cent of sexual assault survivors had reported it to police.

Put simply: this does not add up. 

But the new data does seem to show more people are being held accountable.

It revealed there were 46,131 completed court cases in the same time period. Of those, 77 per cent were found guilty, and 53 per cent were so serious they required hearings in higher courts – eg: the County or Supreme courts.

The sexual assault imprisonment rate steadily increased from 35.7 prisoners per 100,000 adult men in 2013, to 51.7 in 2019.

And 80 per cent of sexual assault prisoners were born in Australia, and 32 per cent had been imprisoned previously (for any offence).

Australia’s National Research Organisation for Women’s Safety said that while it’s positive this data shows more people are being caught, charged and convicted, it must be balanced with existing data on the underreporting of sexual violence.

“One barrier to reporting sexual assault is community mistrust of women’s reports of sexual violence,” the org tweeted.

“As many as four in 10 Australians mistrust women’s reports of sexual violence .”

A 2016 Personal Safety Survey conducted by the ABS indicates around 639,000 Australian women experienced their most recent incident of sexual assault perpetrated by a male in the last 10 years and at least half of Australian women do not seek advice or support after experiencing sexual assault.

This report comes one day after it was revealed 21 female workers at Rio Tinto mine sites in Australia reported actual or attempted rape or sexual assault in the last five years.

It also follows a shit-ton of national discourse, sparked by Grace Tame’s spectacular photo op moment, about sexism and abuse culture rife in Australia.

We knew it was bad, but Jesus.

Help is available.

If you require immediate assistance, please call 000.

If you’d like to speak to someone about sexual assault, please call the 1800 Respect hotline on 1800 737 732 or chat online

Under 25? You can reach Kids Helpline at 1800 55 1800 or chat online.

Image: Getty Images / Scott Barbour