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1387.3 - Queensland in Review, 2003  
Latest ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 12/11/2003  Ceased
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Social Isolation

Social isolation exists when members of society are denied access to and involvement with the wider community. There are numerous ways in which people can be involved within the community, through employment, education, volunteering, contact with neighbours and community interest groups.

Young adults are often involved in study or employment (or both), activities which facilitate social interaction. As older adults exit the labour force they lose an important source of social interaction. As the population ages and the number of persons leaving the work force increases, there may be a need to assist persons in older age groups to establish or increase their involvement in the wider community in order to avoid social isolation.

Emerging technologies allow easy and rapid communication between people. These same technologies however, also reduce the need for personal contact with the wider community. Utilising technology to maximise involvement with the community and minimise social isolation remains a challenge for governments and communities.

Transportation / Accessibility

The ability to access services, and to be involved in the community through participating in activities outside of the home is of key interest in looking at the issue of social isolation within the broader community. Lack of access to transport due to problems of affordability, safety, availability, convenience, and appropriateness of the type of transport available can act as a barrier to people's participation in the range of social, civic and economic activities of mainstream society.

In 2002, most Queenslanders aged 18 years or over (87%) felt that they could easily get to the places where they needed to go; 9% felt that they sometimes had difficulty getting to such places; while 4% felt that they either could not get to places needed to go or often had difficulties in doing so. On a gender basis 89% of men and 84% of women indicated that they were able to easily get to places when needed, with men less likely than women to report difficulties with transport across all age groups.

Younger and Older Persons

The greatest difference occurred for those aged 65 years or over, with 89% of men reporting no difficulty with transport, compared with 79% of women. Young men and women (aged 18 to 24 years) also indicated slightly higher transport difficulties than other age groups, with 80% and 77% respectively reporting that they could easily get to places, compared with 87% of all Queensland adults.

Can Easily Get to Places When Needed by Age and Sex, Queensland

Graph - Can Easily Get to Places When Needed by Age and Sex, Queensland


With respect to ease of getting to places there was little difference between Brisbane and regional areas. A slightly higher proportion of adults indicated having access to motor vehicle/s to drive outside of Brisbane, 90% and 88% respectively for inner regional and other areas, compared with 86% for Brisbane. Of all states/territories, the ACT had the highest proportion of persons who indicated being able to easily access places (91%), while New South Wales had the lowest proportion (81%).
Has Access to a Motor Vehicle to Drive by Sex, Queensland

Graph - Has Access to a Motor Vehicle to Drive by Sex, Queensland


Most Queensland adults (87%) had access to a motor vehicle to drive for personal use. Access was greatest for adults aged 35 to 44 years at 93%, and dropped to 67% for older adults (aged 65 years or over). Access also varied by gender, with men having higher levels of access to a motor vehicle than women across all age groups, with the greatest difference for the older age group (83% for men and 53% for women). This could partly be attributed to greater life expectancy for women compared to men within Queensland.

Comparisons across states and territories indicate the lowest proportion of adults having access to a motor vehicle was in New South Wales (82%), while the highest proportion was in Western Australia (90%).

Crime victimisation

The 2002 General Social Survey collected information on the prevalence of the use or threat of violence against a person, and break-ins to homes, garages or sheds. For all Queenslanders aged 18 years or over, 11% (297,000 persons) reported being victims of physical or threatened violence in the last 12 months, while 13% (351,000 persons) reported being victims of actual or attempted break-ins during the same period. These levels were both above the national average. The proportion of Queensland adults who were victims of violence or break-in declined in general with age, with the highest rates for both types of crime experienced by persons aged 18-24 years (19% and 23% respectively).
Victims of Violence or Break-in, in 12 Month Period Prior to Survey, Queensland
Graph - Victim of Violence or Break-in, in 12 Month Period Prior to Survey, Queensland


In Queensland, men were more likely to be victims of physical or threatened violence (13%) than women (9%). Young adult males (aged 18 to 24 years) were most at risk with 29% reporting physical or threatened violence in the last twelve months, above the national figure of 21% for this age group.

Across the states and territories, the Northern Territory had the highest rates for both violence (17%) and actual or attempted break-ins (29%), with break-ins in Western Australia (16%) and Queensland (13%) also above the national average.

Feeling safe

The feelings people have of safety or lack of safety when alone at home are influenced by a number of factors, including their perceptions of crime levels in their vicinity; previous experience as a victim of assault or household break-in; relationships with people living nearby; sense of their own strength and capacity to be in control; and their level of trust in their local community.

A large majority (82%) of Queensland adults felt safe or very safe at home alone after dark. Of the remaining 18%, half reported feeling unsafe or very unsafe, the rest either were never at home alone after dark or felt neither safe nor unsafe. This varied with age, with those aged 35 to 44 years less likely to feel unsafe/very unsafe (5.5%), while the youngest age group (18 to 24 years) indicated they were more likely to feel vulnerable at home alone after dark (12%).
Feels Very Safe or Safe at Home Alone after Dark by Age and Sex, Queensland
Graph - Feels Very Safe or Safe at Home Alone After Dark by Age and Sex, Queensland

Men (91%) were more likely to feel safe/very safe at home alone after dark compared with women (73%). This was true across all age groups, despite the fact that males were more likely to have been the victim of crime during the previous 12 months. While men aged 65 years or over were the males least likely to feel safe/very safe (81%), among females, this age group was the second most likely to feel safe/very safe (75%).

Across states and territories, the highest proportions indicating feeling unsafe/very unsafe at home alone after dark were in Western Australia (11%), followed by the Northern Territory and South Australia (both 10%). In Queensland, 9% of adults aged 18 years or over reported they felt unsafe/very unsafe at home alone after dark.

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