National murder rate hits record low

Murder in Australia is at a record low, a report shows, but women continue to be over-represented as victims of intimate partner homicide.

Fewer people are getting murdered in Australia, with the homicide rate hitting a record low.

The latest report of the National Homicide Monitoring Program reveals there were 247 victims and 260 offenders in 2010-11 and 264 victims and 272 offenders in 2011-12.

That works out to a national rate of 1.1 victims per 100,000 people, the lowest since the program started in 1989.

By comparison, the 2012 rate in the US was 4.7 murders per 100,000.

The report, by the Australian Institute of Criminology, shows knives were the most common murder weapons, responsible for 187 deaths (37 per cent), while beatings accounted for 125 deaths (24 per cent).

Guns killed 69 people (14 per cent).

The study shows indigenous people continue to be over-represented as both murder victims - 85 of the 511 victims in the two-year period - and as perpetrators, with 74 of the 532 offenders.

Alcohol continues to feature in a large number of homicides. It is consumed by either victim or murderer in one-third of all cases.

That's actually an improvement - in 2008-10, alcohol featured in half.

Justice Minister Michael Keenan said the homicide rate had trended down, with an 18 per cent reduction in the past 25 years.

He said women continued to be over-represented as victims of intimate partner homicide, with 83 victims in the period 2010-12.

"However, victimisation of women and girls reached a historic low and remained stable across the two-year reporting period, with a rate of 0.8 per 100,000," he said in a statement.

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