4500.0 - Crime and Justice News, Oct 2003  
Previous ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 28/10/2003   
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Sexual Assault Information Development Framework

An ABS Information Paper, Sexual Assault Information Development Framework (cat. no. 4518.0) was released on 12 August 2003.

The Information Development Framework (IDF) development process involved extensive consultation with a range of commonwealth, state and territory agencies, and with various non-government bodies. Their assistance is gratefully acknowledged. Funding and valuable support for this project was provided by the Office of the Status of Women as part of the National Initiative to Combat Sexual Assault.

The IDF aims to help users of statistics to improve their understanding of the data and related issues in the area of sexual assault. The Framework identifies the various requirements for sexual assault data, and reviews currently available data in order to identify the gaps that exist in national data on sexual assault. A number of conclusions are reached about addressing priority information development needs through the development of strategies to produce more uniform data from existing sources, as well as to inform future collection processes.

Importantly, the publication also brings together information about a number of currently available sexual assault data sources. Some of these sources are existing ABS collections and approximately 60 non-ABS sources are included.

The IDF presents a conceptual framework for sexual assault, for research and analysis of data in this area of concern. Elements of the framework, for which current and potential data sources are identified, include:

  • the context of sexual assault
  • actual and perceived risk
  • the characteristics of incidents
  • the responses made
  • information on the impacts and outcomes of sexual assault.

The holistic view of sexual assault taken in this framework includes responses provided by the health system, the community services system, the criminal justice system and other specialist services against sexual violence.

The IDF will facilitate:
  • a long-term analysis of sexual assault as a social problem
  • an assessment of how the various support, police and legal services are responding to sexual assault
  • a more accurate view of service effectiveness that will better inform the ongoing development of appropriate programs and services
  • the capacity to measure changes in sexual assault patterns over time.

A key part of the IDF is the proposal of strategies with regard to the tracking of sexual assault data over time. Specifically, this will include tracking trends in reporting, the nature of incidents, and the characteristics of victims and perpetrators.

While it is acknowledged that ‘perfect’ recording of the incidence and nature of sexual assault will never be possible, the IDF is a valuable resource for informing a broad-based, long-term perspective on the needs for and uses of sexual assault data.

The IDF provides a benchmark from which to move forward and will be used as a tool for the development and management of information needed for research, policy development and service delivery in relation to sexual assault. Further collaboration in information development, as proposed in the IDF, is an important step in improving what is known about the prevalence and nature of sexual assault.

The IDF is available on the ABS web site. Please contact Lyn Tucker on email <crime.justice@abs.gov.au> if you have any queries about the framework, or would like further information.