The term ‘assault’ describes interpersonal violence used with the intent of causing harm, injury, or death to another. In the serious injury outcome indicators, ‘assault’ is used to describe both fatal and non-fatal injuries.

The assault indicators are based on ICD-10 codes in the range X85–Y09. These include homicide (death due to injuries inflicted by another person with the intent to injure or kill, by any means) sexual assault and acts of omission (failure to do something, which causes harm). Injuries due to legal intervention or operations of war are excluded.

Before 2009, the serious non-fatal assault indicators were provisional, because there was concern about the validity of the indicator. The concern was around case ascertainment and how the identification of assault injury events is likely to be influenced by changing social norms. For example, it is possible that health promotion campaigns to reduce domestic violence may increase the acceptability of reporting such events. This would impact the trends reported in the serious non-fatal assault injury indicator. Additionally, unlike fatal injury events there is not a comprehensive and independent verification process by a Coroner of the intent of all injuries that require admission to hospital.

In 2009 the Injury Prevention Research Unit (IPRU) investigated the provisional status of the serious non-fatal assault indicator. They found no systematic change in the recording of serious non-fatal assault cases between 2001 and 2007. As such, the provisional status of this indicator has been lifted (Gulliver, Cryer, & Davie, 2009).

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