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4906.0 - Personal Safety, Australia, 2012  
Latest ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 11/12/2013   
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Contents >> Prevalence of violence

MEASURING THE PREVALENCE OF VIOLENCE

A key objective of the Personal Safety Survey (PSS) is to measure the prevalence of violence in Australia. For the purposes of this survey, violence is defined as any incident involving the occurrence, attempt or threat of either physical or sexual assault experienced by a person since the age of 15. Physical assault involves the use of physical force with the intent to harm or frighten a person. Physical threat is an attempt to inflict physical harm or a threat or suggestion of intent to inflict physical harm, made face-to-face where the person believes it is able to and likely to be carried out. Sexual assault is an act of a sexual nature carried out against a person's will through the use of physical force, intimidation or coercion, and any attempts to do this. Sexual threat is the threat of an act of a sexual nature, made face-to-face where the person believes it is able to and likely to be carried out. Physical violence involves any incidents of physical assault and/or physical Threat. Sexual violence involves any incidents of sexual assault and/or sexual threat. Refer to Endnote 1 for more detailed descriptions and definitions.

The PSS collects information from men and women aged 18 years and over about their experience of violence, since the age of 15, by different male and female perpetrator types (including current partner, previous partner, boyfriend/girlfriend or date, other known man/woman, and stranger). Refer to the Glossary for detailed definitions of perpetrator types.


MEASURING MULTIPLE INCIDENTS AND MULTIPLE TYPES OF VIOLENCE

It is possible that people have experienced multiple incidents of violence. Where a person has experienced more than one type of violence, they are counted separately for each type of violence they experience but are only counted once in the aggregated totals. Components therefore may not add to the totals. For example if a person had experienced an incident of physical assault by a stranger and an incident of physical assault by their current partner, they would be counted against each type of violence by type of perpetrator (i.e. physical assault by a stranger and physical assault by a current partner) but they would only be counted once in the total for those who had experienced physical assault. Refer to the Glossary for further information.

It is also possible that a single incident of violence may involve more than one of the different types of violence. In the PSS a single incident of violence is only counted once. Where an incident involves both sexual and physical assault, it is counted as a sexual assault. For example if a person is physically assaulted during or as part of a sexual assault, this would be counted once only as a sexual assault. Where an incident involves a person being both threatened with assault and assaulted, it is counted as an assault. For example if in a single incident a perpetrator threatens to sexually assault a person and then sexually assaults them, this would be counted once only as a sexual assault. The same applies for incidents where a person is both threatened with physical assault and physically assaulted. Refer to the Glossary for detailed definitions of an incident.


PREVALENCE OF VIOLENCE - DURING THE LAST 12 MONTHS

Men are more likely than women to experience violence. In 2012 it was estimated that 8.7% of all men aged 18 years and over (737,100) and 5.3% of all women aged 18 years and over (467,300) had experienced violence in the 12 months prior to the survey. (Data presented in Diagrams 1 and 2 are taken from Table 1).

Diagram 1: Men's experience of violence(a), During the last 12 months


Diagram 1: Men's experience of violence, during last 12 months

* Estimate has a relative standard error of 25% to 50% and should be used with caution.
** Estimate has a relative standard error of greater than 50% and is considered too unreliable for general use.
(a) Components are not able to be added together to produce a total. Where a person has experienced
both physical and sexual violence, they are counted separately for each type of violence they experienced
but are counted once only in the aggregated totals.


Diagram 2: Women's experience of violence(a), During the last 12 months


Diagram 2: Women's experience of violence, during last 12 months

* Estimate has a relative standard error of 25% to 50% and should be used with caution.
** Estimate has a relative standard error of greater than 50% and is considered too unreliable for general use.
(a) Components are not able to be added together to produce a total. Where a person has experienced
both physical and sexual violence, they are counted separately for each type of violence they experienced
but are counted once only in the aggregated totals.


Both men and women who experienced violence in the 12 months prior to the survey were more likely to have experienced physical violence than sexual violence. In 2012 it was estimated that 8.5% of all men aged 18 years and over (723,400) and 4.6% of all women aged 18 years and over (403,200) had experienced physical violence in the 12 months prior to the survey. Further, 1.2% of all women aged 18 years and over (102,400) had experienced sexual violence in the 12 months prior to the survey (refer Table 1).


PREVALENCE OF VIOLENCE - SINCE THE AGE OF 15

In 2012 it was estimated that 49% of all men aged 18 years and over (4,148,000) and 41% of all women aged 18 years and over (3,560,600) had experienced violence since the age of 15 (refer Table 1).

Both men and women were more likely to have experienced physical violence than sexual violence since the age of 15:
  • 48% (4,072,200) of men had experienced physical violence compared to 4.5% (381,100) of men who had experienced sexual violence, since the age of 15; and
  • 34% (3,006,100) of women had experienced physical violence compared to 19% (1,696,100) of women who had experienced sexual violence, since the age of 15.

Graph Image for PROPORTION OF MEN AND WOMEN WHO EXPERIENCED PHYSICAL OR SEXUAL VIOLENCE, Since the age of 15

Footnote(s): (a) Includes physical assault and/or physical threat (b) Includes sexual assault and/or sexual threat.

Source(s): Personal Safety, Australia




CHANGES IN PREVALENCE OF VIOLENCE OVER TIME

Between 2005 and 2012 there was a statistically significant decrease in the proportion of men aged 18 years and over who had experienced violence in the 12 months prior to interview (refer Table 2). In 2005 an estimated 10.8% of all men had experienced violence in the 12 months prior to interview compared to 8.7% in 2012. This change was largely driven by the decrease in the estimated number of men who had experienced physical violence in the 12 months prior to interview (10.4% in 2005 compared to 8.5% in 2012).

While there was a statistically significant decrease from 1996 to 2005 in the proportion of women aged 18 years and over who had experienced violence in the 12 months prior to the survey (from 7.1% in 1996 to 5.8% in 2005), there was no statistically significant change from 2005 to 2012 in the proportion of women who had experienced violence in the 12 months prior to the survey. In 2005 an estimated 5.8% of all women had experienced violence in the 12 months prior to interview compared to 5.3% in 2012 (refer to Endnote 2 for information about significance testing).

Graph Image for PROPORTION OF WOMEN WHO EXPERIENCED PHYSICAL AND SEXUAL VIOLENCE During the last 12 months, 1996, 2005, 2012

Footnote(s): (a) Includes physical assault and/or physical threat. (b) Includes sexual assault and/or sexual threat. (c) Where a person has experienced both physical and sexual violence, they are counted separately for each type of violence they experienced but are only counted once in the aggregated totals.

Source(s): Personal Safety, Australia

Graph Image for PROPORTION OF MEN WHO EXPERIENCED PHYSICAL AND SEXUAL VIOLENCE During the last 12 months, 2005, 2012

Footnote(s): *2012 sexual violence estimate has an RSE of 25% to 50% and should be used with caution. (a) Includes assault and threat. 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. (b) Where a person has experienced both physical and sexual violence, they are counted separately for each type of violence they experienced but are only counted once in the aggregated totals.

Source(s): Personal Safety, Australia





ENDNOTES

Endnote 1 - The different types of violence are defined as follows:

Physical assault involves the use of physical force with the intent to harm or frighten a person. Assaults may have occurred in conjunction with a robbery and includes incidents where a person was assaulted in their line of work (e.g. assaulted while working as a security guard). This includes being: pushed, grabbed or shoved; slapped; kicked, bitten or hit with a fist; hit with an object or something else that could hurt you; beaten; choked; stabbed; shot; or any other type of physical assault which involved the use of physical force with the intent to harm or frighten a person. Physical assault excludes incidents of sexual assault or threatened sexual assault which also involved physical assault, and excludes incidents that occurred during the course of play on a sporting field. Physical assault also excludes incidents of violence that occurred before the age of 15 - for the purposes of this survey, these are defined as Physical Abuse. If a person experienced physical assault and physical threat in the same incident, this was counted once only as a physical assault. If a person experienced sexual assault and physical assault in the same incident, this was counted once only as a sexual assault.

Physical threat is an attempt to inflict physical harm or a threat or suggestion of intent to inflict physical harm, that was made face-to-face where the person believes it was able to and likely to be carried out. Physical threat includes incidents where a person was threatened in their line of work. It excludes: any incident of violence in which the threat was actually carried out and incidents which occurred during the course of play on a sporting field. If a person experienced sexual threat and physical threat in the same incident, this was counted once only as a sexual threat.

Sexual Assault is an act of a sexual nature carried out against a person's will through the use of physical force, intimidation or coercion, and includes 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 assault excludes unwanted sexual touching - for the purposes of this survey, this is defined as Sexual Harassment. Sexual assault also excludes incidents of violence that occurred before the age of 15 - for the purposes of this survey, these are defined as Sexual Abuse. If a person experienced sexual assault and sexual threat in the same incident, this was counted once only as a sexual assault. If an incident of sexual assault also involved physical assault or threats, this was counted once only as a sexual assault.

Sexual threat involves the threat of acts of a sexual nature, that were made face-to-face where the person believes it is able to and likely to be carried out. If a person experienced sexual assault and sexual threat in the same incident, this was counted once only as a sexual assault.

For further details refer to the Glossary.

Endnote 2 - All differences and changes mentioned have been tested for statistical significance with a 95% level of confidence that there is a real difference in the two populations being tested. To determine whether there is a statistical difference between any other two estimates, significance testing should be undertaken. For further information, refer to the Technical Note.

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