'Shocking' report: half of sexual offenders target kids

The vast majority of sexual offenders are male and half of them committed crimes involving children, according to new data that was branded shocking and sobering. 

There were 8326 sexual offenders between 2021 and 2022, amounting to a rate of 40 people per 100,000 aged 10 and above, according to an inaugural Australian sexual offence report.

About half - just over 4270 offenders - committed child sexual offences.

"These are shocking and sobering statistics and they outline the scale of the problem which we must tackle," Attorney-General Mark Dreyfus said on Thursday alongside the report's release.

Women and girls made up 85 per cent of victims, men 14 per cent and the remaining 124 people were non-binary or their gender wasn't known.

Eight per cent of victims were Indigenous, higher than their average of about four per cent of the general population.

The majority of the crimes happened in residential homes and the average perpetrator age was just over 36 at the time of their first offence.

About a third of offenders knew their victims but were not family members, another third were either an intimate partner (15 per cent) or related (19 per cent) and one in five was a stranger.

More than 90 per cent of perpetrators were men, with male offenders having a rate of 75 people per 100,000, compared with the female offending rate of five.

While most male offenders were aged between 18 and 44, half of females were between the ages of 10 and 17. 

The Indigenous offending rate was higher per population, at 162, with 12 per cent of alleged sexual offenders being Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islanders.

NSW had the highest number of offenders with 2543 and Victorian second with 1692.

Queensland had the highest rate per 100,000 people at 54 and the ACT had the lowest, with 25.

A file photo of Attorney-General Mark Dreyfus
Attorney-General Mark Dreyfus says the sobering statistics show the scale of the problem.

"Every single one of these statistics represents harm and trauma to individuals, their loved ones and the entire community," Mr Dreyfus said.

The Australian Institute of Criminology compiled the data from state and territory police as part of the Commonwealth's action plan to prevent and respond to child sexual abuse.

The Albanese government has tasked the Australian Law Reform Commission to inquire into how the justice system responds to sexual violence to improve the experience of victim-survivors.

It's due to report in January 2025.

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