4431.0.55.003 - Experiences of Violence and Personal Safety of People with Disability, 2016  
Latest ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 28/11/2018  First Issue
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Introduction

Australia is a party to a number of international human rights treaties that are relevant to the treatment of people with disabilities in Australia including the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD). Ratification of the CRPD in 2007 has strengthened disability rights in Australia and put the human rights of people with disabilities on the forefront of international political, government and community agendas.

According to the 2016 Personal Safety Survey (PSS), people with a disability or a long-term health condition were more likely to have experienced violence in the 12 months prior to the survey compared with people without a disability or a long-term health condition.

The PSS asked persons with disability about their experiences of violence and feelings of safety in the community. The information collected is essential to inform policy and programs to address the prevention, detection, and response to violence and harassment experienced by this vulnerable population.

This article presents statistics about Australians’ experiences of physical and sexual violence, sexual harassment, stalking and general feelings of personal safety in the 12 months prior to the survey. The experiences of persons with and without disability or a long-term health condition are analysed.


About the PSS

Conducted in all states and territories and interviewing approximately 21,250 people, the 2016 Personal Safety Survey (PSS) collected information from men and women aged 18 years and over about the nature and extent of violence experienced since the age of 15.

The PSS collected information to determine whether or not someone had disability or a long-term health condition at the time of the survey. In the PSS, disability status is determined based on the respondents’ conditions at the time of the survey. It does not necessarily indicate whether they had disability or a long-term health condition at the time of any violence, stalking or sexual harassment incidents. It is important to note the survey collects a person’s disability status at the time of interview, not at the time they experienced the violence.

For more information on how disability and long-term health conditions are defined, please see the Glossary.

The scope of the survey is persons living in private dwellings; this population excludes people with disability who resided in non-private dwellings such as care facilities. In addition, proxy interviews (when the person selected for the interview is incapable of answering for themselves due to illness/injury or language difficulties and requires a proxy to answer on their behalf) did not include sensitive content, including experiences of violence. Therefore there is an under-representation in the survey of people with a profound or severe communication disability.


Definitions of violence in the PSS

The Personal Safety Survey (PSS) defines violence as any incident involving the occurrence, attempt or threat of either physical or sexual assault experienced by a person. Violence can be broken down into two main categories, physical violence and sexual violence, and data on both types will be presented in the article.

PSS Conceptual framework: Persons with disability or a long-term health condition, whether experienced violence in past 12 months, 2016

PSS Conceptual framework: Persons with disability or a long-term health condition, whether experienced violence in past 12 months, 2016


In 2016, one in twenty people (5.4% or 989,500 people) had experienced violence in the previous 12 months, made up of 5.7% of people with disability or a long-term health condition (330,400 people), and 5.2% of people without disability or a long-term health condition (654,800 people). The proportion of people who had experienced violence in each population group had decreased since 2012.


Detailed breakdown of violence


The following sections reports on different types of violence. Breaking down violence into physical violence and sexual violence, provides a more comprehensive analysis of the different rates in which persons with and without disability or a long-term health condition experience violence and the different demographic characteristics.


Physical violence

The PSS defines physical violence as the occurrence, attempt or threat of physical assault. There are two components of physical violence:

        • Physical assault: any incident that involved the use of physical force with the intent to harm or frighten a person.
        • Physical threat: any attempt to inflict physical harm, or a threat or suggestions of intent to inflict physical harm, which was made face-to-face and which the person believed was able and likely to be carried out.

From 2012 to 2016, the proportion of all people reporting experiencing physical violence in the last 12 months decreased, from 6.5% (1.1 million people) to 4.5% (819,500 people).

A higher proportion of people with disability or a long-term health condition experienced physical violence in 2016 compared with people without disability or a long-term health condition (5.0% or 288,700 people and 4.2% or 531,300 people respectively).

Graph: Proportion of people aged 18 years and over who experienced physical violence in the last 12 months, by disability or long-term health condition status and Year
(a) Components are not able to be added together to produce a total. Where a person has experienced both assault and threat, they are counted separately for each type of violence they experienced but are counted only once in the aggregated total.

In 2016, proportions of people experiencing physical violence were highest in the younger age groups. Around one in eight people with disability or a long-term health condition in the 18-24 and 25-34 year age groups experienced physical violence in the last 12 months (12.7% and 12.5% respectively). This decreased in the 65 and over age group where 1.3% of people experienced physical violence.

Almost one in eight people with psychological disability and intellectual disability experienced physical violence in the past 12 months (12.3% or 110,500 people and 12.2% or 58,200 people respectively).

Graph: Proportion of people aged 18 years and over with disability or a long-term health condition who experienced physical violence in the last 12 months by disability type, 2016

    (a) Includes loss of sight (not corrected by glasses or contact lenses); loss of hearing where communication is restricted, or an aid to assist with or substitute for, hearing is used; speech difficulties.
    (b) Includes shortness of breath or breathing difficulties that restrict everyday activities; blackouts, seizures or loss of consciousness; chronic or recurrent pain or discomfort that restricts everyday activities; incomplete use of arms or fingers; difficulty gripping or holding things; incomplete use of feet or legs; restriction in physical activities or in doing physical work; disfigurement or deformity.
    (c) Includes difficulty learning or understanding things.
    (d) Includes nervous or emotional condition that restricts everyday activities; mental illness or condition requiring help or supervision.
    (e) Head injury, stroke or other acquired brain injury, with long-term effects that restrict everyday activities.
    (f) Includes receiving treatment or medication for any other long-term effects that restrict everyday activities.
    (g) Components are not able to be added together to produce a total. Where a person has more than one type of disability, they are counted separately for each disability type but are counted only once in the aggregated total.

Of people with profound or severe core activity limitation (i.e. those needing assistance with self-care, communication or mobility), 6.8% experienced physical violence in the last 12 months (48,600 people) compared with 4.2% each of people with moderate or mild core activity limitation and those with no disability or a long-term health condition (106,000 and 531,300 people respectively).

In 2016, 4.8% of women with disability or a long-term health condition (140,900 women) reported experiencing physical violence in the past 12 months compared with 2.9% of women without disability or a long-term health condition (188,000 women).

In 2016, the overall proportion of men with disability or a long-term health condition who experienced physical violence in the past 12 months was not statistically different compared with men without disability or a long-term health condition (5.1% or 143,300 people and 5.5% or 339,500 people respectively).


Sexual violence

The PSS defines sexual violence as the occurrence, attempt or threat of sexual assault. There are two components of sexual violence:

        § Sexual assault: an act of a sexual nature carried out against a person's will through the use of physical force, intimidation or coercion, including any attempts to do this. This includes rape, attempted rape, aggravated sexual assault (assault with a weapon), indecent assault, penetration by objects, forced sexual activity that did not end in penetration and attempts to force a person into sexual activity. Incidents so defined would be an offence under state and territory criminal law.

        § Sexual threat: the threat of acts of a sexual nature that were made face-to-face where the person believed it was able to and likely to be carried out.

Experiences of sexual assault remained more common than sexual threat in 2016, with 1.1% (201,300 people) experiencing sexual assault in the previous 12 months, while 0.3% (46,900 people) experienced sexual threat.

Graph: Proportion of people aged 18 years and over who experienced sexual violence in the last 12 months by disability or long-term health condition status and Year
(a) Components are not able to be added together to produce a total. Where a person has experienced both sexual assault and sexual threat, they are counted separately for each type of violence they experienced but are counted only once in the aggregated total.

In 2016, 2.2% of women with a disability or a long-term health condition (63,900 women) reported experiencing sexual violence in the previous 12 months. There was no statistical difference when compared with women with no disability or long-term health condition (1.6% or 105,300 women).

One in twenty people with intellectual disability and psychological disability reported experiencing sexual violence in the past 12 months (5.5% or 26,200 people and 5.0% or 44,900 people respectively).

Graph: Proportion of people aged 18 years and over with disability or a long-term health condition who experienced sexual violence in the last 12 months by disability type, 2016

    (a) Includes loss of sight (not corrected by glasses or contact lenses); loss of hearing where communication is restricted, or an aid to assist with or substitute for, hearing is used; speech difficulties.
    (b) Includes shortness of breath or breathing difficulties that restrict everyday activities; blackouts, seizures or loss of consciousness; chronic or recurrent pain or discomfort that restricts everyday activities; incomplete use of arms or fingers; difficulty gripping or holding things; incomplete use of feet or legs; restriction in physical activities or in doing physical work; disfigurement or deformity.
    (c) Includes difficulty learning or understanding things.
    (d) Includes nervous or emotional condition that restricts everyday activities; mental illness or condition requiring help or supervision.
    (e) Head injury, stroke or other acquired brain injury, with long-term effects that restrict everyday activities.
    (f) Includes receiving treatment or medication for any other long-term effects that restrict everyday activities.
    (g) Components are not able to be added together to produce a total. Where a person has more than one type of disability, they are counted separately for each disability type but are counted only once in the aggregated total.




Experiences of violence –assault and threat


Another way to analyse the PSS data is to break down experiences of violence by assault and threat. As seen in the diagram below, assault includes incidents of physical and sexual assault, while threat includes incidents of physical and sexual threat.
The following section will analyse the different characteristics of persons with and without a disability who experienced at least one incident of assault and/or threat in the last 12 months.

PSS Conceptual framework: People with disability or a long-term health condition, violence types experienced in the past 12 months, 2016

PSS Conceptual framework: People with disability or a long-term health condition, violence types experienced in the past 12 months, 2016

Of the whole population, more people experienced violence in the form of an assault than a threat in 2016 with 3.9% (or 715,300 people) reporting experiencing assault in the previous 12 months and 2.3% (or 421,600 people) reporting experiencing violent threat. This was the case for people with and without disability or a long-term health condition.

Graph: Proportion of people aged 18 years and over who experienced violence in the last 12 months, by disability or long-term health condition status and Year
(a) Includes both physical and sexual assault. Where a person has experienced both sexual and physical assault, they are counted separately for each type of assault they experienced but are counted only once in the aggregated total.
(b) Includes both physical and sexual threat. Where a person has experienced both sexual and physical threat, they are counted separately for each type of threat they experienced but are counted only once in the aggregated total.
(c) Components are not able to be added together to produce a total. Where a person has experienced both assault and threat, they are counted separately for each type of violence they experienced but are counted only once in the aggregated total.



Experiences of violence by disability type and severity


The proportion of people with disability or a long-term health condition who experienced violence in the 12 months prior to the survey varied across disability types. The highest rates of violence were among people with psychological disability (14.8% or 132,500 people), and intellectual disability (14.3% or 67,900 people with around one in seven people reporting violence. Of people with physical disability, one in twenty (5.0% or 196,300 people) reported having experienced violence during the same time period.

Graph: Proportion of people aged 18 years and over with disability or a long-term health condition who experienced violence in the last 12 months by disability type, 2016

    (a) Includes loss of sight (not corrected by glasses or contact lenses); loss of hearing where communication is restricted, or an aid to assist with or substitute for, hearing is used; speech difficulties.
    (b) Includes shortness of breath or breathing difficulties that restrict everyday activities; blackouts, seizures or loss of consciousness; chronic or recurrent pain or discomfort that restricts everyday activities; incomplete use of arms or fingers; difficulty gripping or holding things; incomplete use of feet or legs; restriction in physical activities or in doing physical work; disfigurement or deformity.
    (c) Includes difficulty learning or understanding things.
    (d) Includes nervous or emotional condition that restricts everyday activities; mental illness or condition requiring help or supervision.
    (e) Head injury, stroke or other acquired brain injury, with long-term effects that restrict everyday activities.
    (f) Includes receiving treatment or medication for any other long-term effects that restrict everyday activities.
    (g) Components are not able to be added together to produce a total. Where a person has more than one type of disability, they are counted separately for each disability type but are counted only once in the aggregated total.
    (h) Includes both physical and sexual assault. Where a person has experienced both sexual and physical assault, they are counted separately for each type of assault they experienced but are counted only once in the aggregated total.
    (i) Includes both physical and sexual threat. Where a person has experienced both sexual and physical threat, they are counted separately for each type of threat they experienced but are counted only once in the aggregated total.
    (j) Components are not able to be added together to produce a total. Where a person has experienced both assault and threat, they are counted separately for each type of violence they experienced but are counted only once in the aggregated total.

In addition to examining experiences of violence by types of disability, analysis of severity of disability provides further indication of what groups of people with disability are most likely to experience violence. When examining severity of disability, people with more severe levels of impairment were more likely to have experienced violence in the past 12 months. Of people with profound or severe core activity limitation (those who need assistance with self-care, communication or mobility), 7.7% experienced violence in the past 12 months (54,800 people), compared with 4.8% of people with moderate or mild core activity limitation (121,500 people).

Graph: Proportion of people aged 18 years and over who experienced violence in the last 12 months by disability or long-term health condition status, 2016

    (a) Includes both physical and sexual assault. Where a person has experienced both sexual and physical assault, they are counted separately for each type of assault they experienced but are counted only once in the aggregated total.
    (b) Includes both physical and sexual threat. Where a person has experienced both sexual and physical threat, they are counted separately for each type of threat they experienced but are counted only once in the aggregated total.
    (c) Components are not able to be added together to produce a total. Where a person has experienced both assault and threat, they are counted separately for each type of violence they experienced but are counted only once in the aggregated total.




Experiences of violence by age group


While people with disability or a long-term health condition were more likely to have experienced violence in the preceding 12 months compared with people without disability or a long-term health condition, the proportion of people who had experienced violence decreased with age.
In 2016, people with disability or a long-term health condition had a higher incidence of experience of violence compared with those without disability or a long-term health condition across all age ranges except the youngest (18 to 24 year olds) and the oldest (65 years and over) age groups, where the differences were not statistically significantly different.


Graph: Proportion of people with disability or a long-term health condition who experienced violence in the last 12 months by Age group, 2016
(a) Includes both physical and sexual assault. Where a person has experienced both sexual and physical assault, they are counted separately for each type of assault they experienced but are counted only once in the aggregated total.
(b) Includes both physical and sexual threat. Where a person has experienced both sexual and physical threat, they are counted separately for each type of threat they experienced but are counted only once in the aggregated total.
(c) Components are not able to be added together to produce a total. Where a person has experienced both assault and threat, they are counted separately for each type of violence they experienced but are counted only once in the aggregated total.

Experiences of violence by sex


Women with disability or a long-term health condition were more likely to have experienced violence in the preceding 12 months than women without disability or a long-term health condition (5.9% or 172,800 women with disability or a long-term health condition and 4.3% or 274,400 of women without disability or a long-term health condition.

Men with disability or a long-term health condition were equally likely to experience violence in the last 12 months as men without disability or a long-term health condition (5.6% or 158,100 compared to 6.2% or 383,200).

Graph: Proportion of people aged 18 years and over who experienced violence in the last 12 months by Sex and disability or long-term health condition status, 2016

    (a) Includes both physical and sexual assault. Where a person has experienced both sexual and physical assault, they are counted separately for each type of assault they experienced but are counted only once in the aggregated total.
    (b) Includes both physical and sexual threat. Where a person has experienced both sexual and physical threat, they are counted separately for each type of threat they experienced but are counted only once in the aggregated total.
    (c) Components are not able to be added together to produce a total. Where a person has experienced both assault and threat, they are counted separately for each type of violence they experienced but are counted only once in the aggregated total.



Experiences of violence by remoteness areas

In inner regional areas, 6.7% of people with disability or a long-term health condition had experienced violence in the last 12 months (80,200 people) compared with 4.3% of people without disability or a long-term health condition (90,700 people).

There were no significant differences in major cities and outer regional areas when looking at those with disability compared with those without.

Graph: Proportion of people aged 18 years and over who experienced violence in the last 12 months by disability or long-term health condition status and section of state, 2016

    (a) Includes both physical and sexual assault. Where a person has experienced both sexual and physical assault, they are counted separately for each type of assault they experienced but are counted only once in the aggregated total.
    (b) Includes both physical and sexual threat. Where a person has experienced both sexual and physical threat, they are counted separately for each type of threat they experienced but are counted only once in the aggregated total.
    (c) Components are not able to be added together to produce a total. Where a person has experienced both assault and threat, they are counted separately for each type of violence they experienced but are counted only once in the aggregated total.




ANALYSIS OF OTHER PERSONAL SAFETY EXPERIENCES


In addition to experiences of violence, PSS respondents were asked a series of questions around experiences of selected types of sexual harassment, stalking, and general safety. This information assists in forming a more comprehensive picture of personal safety in the community, and allows for further analysis of the experiences of people with disability compared with the general population.



Sexual harassment

The PSS collected information about men’s and women’s experiences of selected types of sexual harassment by male and female perpetrators, for both lifetime experiences and the 12 months prior to the survey.

Sexual harassment was considered to have occurred when a person experienced or had been subjected to one or more selected behaviours which they found improper or unwanted, which made them feel uncomfortable, and/or were offensive due to their sexual nature.

The proportion of people who reported experiencing sexual harassment in the previous 12 months increased from 10.8% (1.9 million people) in 2012 to 13.4% (2.5 million people) in 2016. People with disability or a long-term health condition in 2016 continued to be more likely to have experienced sexual harassment (14.9% or 859,500 people) compared with people without disability (12.7% or 1.6 million people).

Sexual harassment by a male perpetrator was more common than by a female perpetrator. For people with disability or a long-term health condition in 2016, 11.5% (660,500 people) experienced sexual harassment by a male, compared with 6.2% (356,400 people) who experienced sexual harassment by a female.

Graph: Proportion of people aged 18 years and over who experienced sexual harassment in the last 12 months by Year, Sex of perpetrator and disability or long-term health condition status

Two in five people (43.3% or 172,400) with disability or a long-term health condition in the 18-24 age group reported experiencing sexual harassment in 2016. This was almost double the proportion of people without disability or a long-term health condition in the same age group (23.6% or 433,000 people). The proportion of people experiencing sexual harassment decreased with age for both populations.

Graph: Proportion of people aged 18 years and over who experienced sexual harassment in the last 12 months by age group and disability or long-term health condition status, 2016

Of people with disability or a long-term health condition, a higher proportion of women had experienced sexual harassment in the past 12 months (19.1% or 561,300 women) compared with men (10.4% or 293,600 men). Such experiences were also more prevalent than among people without disability, where 16.5% of women and 8.7% of men reported sexual harassment.

The most common type of sexual harassment experienced by people with disability or a long-term health condition was inappropriate comments about body or sex life including 12.7% (374,100 women) and 4.0% (113,500 men).

Graph: Proportion of people aged 18 years and over with disability or a long-term health condition who experienced sexual harassment in the last 12 months by type of harassment and sex, 2016

    (a) Inappropriate comments about body or sex life
    (b) Unwanted touching, grabbing, kissing or fondling
    (c) Distributed or posted pictures or videos without consent
    (d) Total experienced sexual harassment in 12 months. Components are not able to be added together to produce a total. Where a person has experienced more than one type of sexual harassment behaviour by any person, they are counted separately for each type of behaviour they experienced but are counted only once in the aggregated total.




Stalking


The PSS collected information from men and women aged 18 years and over about their experience of stalking. Stalking involves various behaviours, such as loitering and following, which the person believed were being undertaken with the intent to cause them fear or distress.
The proportion of people who had experienced stalking in the 12 months prior to the survey decreased from 3.1% (538,000 people) in 2012 to 2.4% (439,300 people) in 2016.

People with disability or a long-term health condition were more likely to report experiencing stalking in the past 12 months (3.1% or 180,200 people) than people with no disability or a long-term health condition in 2016 (2.1% or 259,800 people).

Of people with disability or a long-term health condition, 6.9% of those in the 18-24 year age group and 7.6% of those in the 25-34 year age group experienced stalking in the past 12 months, after which proportions declined with age.

Of people with disability or a long-term health condition, 5.4% (64,500 people) living in inner regional areas experienced stalking in the 12 months prior to the survey compared with 2.6% (98,500 people) who lived in major cities.


General safety

The PSS collected information about men’s and women’s feelings of general safety, in the 12 months prior to the survey for the following situations:

    § waiting for and using public transport alone after dark
    § walking in their local area alone after dark
    § being home alone after dark.

The proportion of people with disability or a long-term health condition who used public transport alone after dark in the last 12 months increased from one in five people (20.1% or 1.1 million people) in 2012 to one in four people (25.3% or 1.5 million people) in 2016. In addition, the proportion of persons with disability or a long-term health condition who felt safe using public transport alone at night also increased, from 14.9% (816,300 people) in 2012 to 20.5% (1.2 million people) in 2016.

However, people with disability or a long-term health condition in 2016 were less likely than people without disability to have used public transport alone after dark in the previous 12 months (25.3% compared with 37.8%). When questioned for the reason for not using public transport alone after dark in the last 12 months, 11.7% or 674,000 people with disability or a long-term health condition said it was because they felt unsafe compared with 7.3% or 918,600 people without disability or a long-term health condition who said they felt unsafe.

Graph: Proportion of people aged 18 years and over, use of public transport(a) alone after dark in the last 12 months, by disability or long-term health condition status and year

    (a) Public transport includes: buses, trains, trams, taxis and ferries.

People with disability or a long-term health condition were less likely to walk in their local area alone after dark (45.2%) compared with people without disability or a long-term health condition (56.8%). Almost one in five people with disability or a long-term health condition (18.6% or 1.1 million people) said they did not walk alone after dark in the last 12 months because they felt unsafe, compared with around one in seven people (13.5% or 1.7 million people) without disability or a long-term health condition.

People with disability or a long-term health condition were also less likely to have felt safe when at home alone after dark in the last 12 months compared with people without disability or a long-term health condition (9.6% or 551,100 people and 5.0% or 629,800 people respectively).