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4524.0 - In Focus: Crime and Justice Statistics, July 2012  
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Contents >> Exploring relationships between crime victimisation and social wellbeing >> Analysis of Crime Victimisation and Social Wellbeing

On this page:
Analysis of Crime Victimisation and Social Wellbeing
Experiences of Crime Victimisation
Relationship Between Social Wellbeing and Crime Victimisation
Positive Outcomes
Frequency of contact with family and friends
Whether attended a community event
Neutral Outcomes
Ability to get support in times of crisis
Negative Outcomes
Feelings of Safety
Trust
Ability to have a say in the community
Acceptance of different cultures
Length of time in current dwelling
Ability to raise emergency money
Perception of social disorder problems
Overall life satisfaction
Personal stressors
Victims of Personal Crime versus Household Crime
Conclusion



ANALYSIS OF CRIME VICTIMISATION AND SOCIAL WELLBEING

Analysis of the relationship between experiences of crime victimisation and social wellbeing outcomes found similar results for persons who had been a victim of physical and/or threatened violence, and persons who had been a victim of actual and/or attempted break-in. When comparing victims of both these selected offences with persons that had not experienced either of these two selected offences, persons experiencing crime victimisation were more likely to have poorer outcomes for the majority of the social wellbeing measures. It should be noted that the term 'outcome' in this context does not imply that respondents' social wellbeing was the direct result of their experiences of victimisation. Rather, it refers to the victim's self-reported feelings of social wellbeing as measured on the indicators, and it is unknown whether that outcome existed before or after the incident/s of victimisation.


EXPERIENCES OF CRIME VICTIMISATION

According to the results of the survey, of the 16.8 million people aged 18 years and over in Australia in 2010, an estimated 2.7 million people (16.4%) reported they had been a victim of actual or attempted break-in and/or physical or threatened violence. There were an estimated 1.3 million (8.0%) victims of actual and/or attempted break-in, and 1.7 million (10.3%) victims of physical and/or threatened violence. It was possible to be both a victim of actual and/or attempted break-in and a victim of physical and/or threatened violence.

RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN SOCIAL WELLBEING AND CRIME VICTIMISATION

The relationship between experiences of crime victimisation and social wellbeing outcomes was examined using fifteen social wellbeing indicators. On the majority of these indicators, victims of physical or threatened violence and/or attempted or actual break-in were more likely to have poorer social wellbeing outcomes than persons not experiencing these selected crimes. However, there were some exceptions, as illustrated in the figure below.


Positive Outcomes

Frequency of contact with family and friends

Frequency of contact with family and close friends living outside their household may signify the degree of social support mechanisms to which a person has access. Nearly all (99.7%) victims of actual or attempted break-in and/or physical or threatened violence had recent contact with friends and family living outside their household (which includes face-to-face contact and contact via telephone, email and mail), with over half (57.1%) having contact every day. Around two in five (39.9%) victims had contact with close friends and family once a week. Victims were more likely to have contact with family or friends every day than people who had not experienced the selected crimes (48.3%). The survey did not measure change in level of contact and it is unknown whether this pattern of greater contact amongst victims preceded their experience of victimisation or reflects a coping response to it.
Whether attended a community event

Attendance at community events may be indicative of a sense of belonging and perception of friendliness in the community. Nearly three-quarters (72.1%) of victims of actual or attempted break-in and/or physical or threatened violence attended a community event in the six months prior to their interview, which was significantly greater than the 63.5% of people who attended an event who were not a victim of the selected crimes in the 12 months prior to interview. Again, it is uncertain whether this reflects a greater need for community contact and support following an experience of victimisation or whether this was a pre-existing behaviour.

Neutral Outcomes

Ability to receive support in times of crisis

Nearly all victims of actual or attempted break-in and/or physical or threatened violence felt they were able to get support in times of crisis from people not living in their household (93.6%). A similar proportion (93.7%) of people who were not victims of the selected crimes felt the same. The ability of a person to receive support in times of crisis may indicate the size or strength of their social networks.

Negative Outcomes

Feelings of safety

Feelings of safety indicators explored how safe people felt in various circumstances: at home alone during the day, at home alone after dark and walking alone in the local area after dark. Most victims of physical or threatened violence and/or attempted or actual break-in felt safe in all three situations; however, they were still more likely to feel unsafe or very unsafe than persons that did not experience the selected crimes, as shown in the table below.

Persons that experienced the selected crimes in the 12 months preceding the interview
Persons that did not experience the selected crimes in the 12 months preceding the interview
Felt unsafe or very unsafe:
At home alone during the day
5.1%
1.4%
At home alone after dark
11.8%
5.6%
Walking in the local area alone after dark
22.8%
17.6%

Both victims of physical or threatened violence and/or attempted or actual break-in and persons that did not experience the selected crimes were more likely to feel unsafe walking in the local area alone after dark than in the other circumstances. However, victims of the selected crimes were around three times more likely than persons that did not experience the selected crimes to feel unsafe at home alone during the day (5.1% and 1.4% respectively).

1. PROPORTION OF PEOPLE WHO FELT UNSAFE OR VERY
UNSAFE by WHETHER A VICTIM OF SELECTED CRIMES

Trust

Two indicators of trust were included in the analysis: level of generalised trust and trust in police. To measure people's level of generalised trust, respondents were asked to agree or disagree with the statement that 'In general, people could be trusted.' To measure people's level of trust in the police, respondents were asked to agree or disagree whether police in their local area could be trusted, and whether police outside their local area could be trusted. The general trust in police variable used in this analysis is an aggregate of the two trust in police variables. Just under half (46.1%) of all victims of actual or attempted break-in and/or physical or threatened violence felt people in general could be trusted, and just over half (54.3%) felt the police in general could be trusted. Both of these proportions were lower than for people who had not experienced the selected crimes, with just over half (55.6%) of persons that did not experience the selected crimes agreeing people in general could be trusted, and around two-thirds (66.0%) agreeing the police could be trusted.

Ability to have a say in the community

Around half (50.6%) of victims of actual or attempted break-in and/or physical or threatened violence felt that they were not able to have a say in the community on important issues, or were only able to have a say a little of the time. About a quarter of victims of the selected crimes felt they could have a say some of the time (24.6%), and around the same proportion felt they could have a say all or most of the time (24.8%). However, victims of the selected crimes were less likely to feel they could have a say in the community all or most of the time than persons not experiencing the selected crimes (29.9%). This suggests that persons experiencing crime victimisation may have a lower sense of personal efficacy in the community.

Acceptance of other cultures

Respondents in the survey were asked whether or not they agreed that it is a good thing for a society to be comprised of people from different cultures. This indicator signifies the level of acceptance of diversity and inclusiveness in the community. Over three-quarters (77.3%) of victims of actual or attempted break-in and/or physical or threatened violence agreed that it is a good thing for a society to be made up of people from different cultures and around one in ten (9.5%) victims disagreed. While victims who disagreed were a minority of the population, it was nearly double the rate of persons that were not victims of the selected crimes who disagreed (5.3%).

Length of time in current dwelling

Over half of all victims of actual or attempted break-in and/or physical or threatened violence had spent five years or less in their current home, with 24.2% spending less than one year, and 33.5% spending between one to five years. Similar proportions had spent six to ten years (17.5%) and 11 years or over (17.4%) in their current dwelling. Victims of the selected crimes were more likely to have spent less time in their current home than persons not experiencing the selected crimes, which may be indicative of an element of housing instability. Around a quarter (24.2%) of victims of the selected crimes had spent less than one year in their current dwelling, which was a greater proportion than persons that had not experienced the selected crimes (14.3%).

Ability to raise emergency money

Nearly three-quarters (74.3%) of victims of actual or attempted break-in and/or physical or threatened violence lived in a household that was able to raise $2,000 within a week for something important. However, this proportion was still less than the proportion of people who had not been victims of the selected crimes that were in a household that was able to raise $2,000 within a week for an emergency (86.6%). This may indicate that victims of the selected crimes may have less financial flexibility to respond to crises, or more limited capacity to seek support.

Perception of social disorder problems

The majority (81.4%) of victims of actual or attempted break-in and/or physical or threatened violence believed a social disorder problem existed in their local area. Thresholds for what equates to a problematic issue may vary across groups and individuals, who may differ in their interpretation of whether or not a social issue is a problem in their local area, depending on factors such as community standards, social norms, and personal sensitivity. A greater proportion of victims of the selected crimes perceived a social disorder problem in their area, when compared to persons who did not experience the selected crimes (67.3%). Victims of the selected crimes were also more likely to rate identified issues as big or moderate problems (31.3% and 32.1% respectively) than persons not experiencing the selected crimes (18.2% and 27.1% respectively). While noisy driving and dangerous driving were the two most commonly reported social disorder issues by both persons that did and did not experience a selected crime, persons that had experienced a selected crime were more likely than persons that had not experienced a selected crime to identify the the following issues: people being insulted, pestered or intimidated (7.1% and 2.0% respectively), public drunkenness (8.1% and 3.8% respectively), offensive language and behaviour (4.3% and 2.3% respectively), and people using or dealing drugs (5.0% and 2.2% respectively). Experiences of crime victimisation may heighten a person's awareness of social disorder in their surroundings, or may lower their threshold with regard to at what level behaviour is considered to be problematic. Alternatively, differences in perceptions of social disorder may reflect differences in the environments in which they are observed.

2. PERCEIVED SOCIAL DISORDER PROBLEMS IN LOCAL AREA by WHETHER A VICTIM OF SELECTED CRIMES

Overall life satisfaction

Respondents were asked to rate their overall life satisfaction on the following scale, in descending order: delighted, pleased, mostly satisfied, mixed, mostly dissatisfied, unhappy, and terrible. Victims of actual or attempted break-in and/or physical or threatened violence were more likely to rate their lives at the satisfied end of the scale (as delighted, pleased or mostly satisfied) (66.9%) than the dissatisfied end (terrible, unhappy or mostly dissatisfied) (8.5%). While only a small proportion of victims of the selected crimes were dissatisfied with their lives (8.5%), this was still greater than persons that did not experience a selected crime (4.5%).

3. OVERALL LIFE SATISFACTION by WHETHER A VICTIM OF SELECTED CRIMES


Personal stressors

Stressful events or conditions that occur in people’s lives can have an adverse effect on individual wellbeing. Respondents in the survey were asked about events that occurred in the 12 months prior to interview that may have been a problem for themselves, family or close friends, such as serious illness, the death of someone close, divorce or separation. Nearly three-quarters (73.9%) of victims of actual or attempted break-in and/or physical or threatened violence reported experiencing at least one personal stressor in the 12 months prior to their interview, with 26.1% identifying no stressors. People who had not been victims of the selected crimes were more likely to report that they had not experienced any stressors (41.0%). Victims of the selected crimes were more likely than persons that were not victims of the selected crimes to have experienced 13 of the 14 personal stressors covered by the survey. The only stressor without a statistically significant difference between persons experiencing and not experiencing a selected crime was serious disability. The survey did not measure the number of stressful incidents a person experienced, nor the order of these events, so it is not possible to discern whether a victim's experience of victimisation occurred before or after the stressful event. Therefore, it is uncertain whether these life events act as risk factors for crime victimisation through their social, situational and psychological impacts, or whether the victimisation experience triggered a stressful life event.

4. PERSONAL STRESSORS EXPERIENCED IN PREVIOUS 12 MONTHS by WHETHER A VICTIM OF SELECTED CRIMES


COMPARISON BETWEEN VICTIMS OF PERSONAL CRIME AND VICTIMS OF HOUSEHOLD CRIME

There was little variation between victims of threatened and/or physical violence (personal crime) and victims of actual and/or attempted break-in (household crime) across the various social wellbeing indicators. These categories are not mutually exclusive, and respondents could be a victim of both types of crime. The only indicators that showed a statistically significant difference in social wellbeing outcomes between victims of personal crime and victims of household crime were feelings of safety, perceptions of social disorder, and experiences of personal stressors.

Victims of actual and/or attempted break-in were more likely to feel unsafe in various situations than persons who were not victims of actual and/or attempted break-in. Victims of the selected household crimes were also less likely to feel safe or very safe than victims of the selected personal crimes, as seen in the table below.

Victims of actual and/or attempted break-in
Victims of physical and/or threatened violence
Felt safe or very safe:
At home alone during the day
83.4%
89.1%
At home alone after dark
72.6%
80.8%
Walking in the local area alone after dark
34.1%
48.6%

As the safety questions relate to feelings of safety in the home and the area around the home, victims of actual or attempted break-in may have elevated levels of sensitivity concerning their safety at home.

5. PROPORTION OF VICTIMS WHO FELT SAFE OR VERY SAFE by WHETHER
A VICTIM OF SELECTED HOUSEHOLD OR PERSONAL CRIMES


A similar proportion of victims of physical and/or threatened violence (82.8%) and victims of actual and/or attempted break-in (80.3%) identified a social disorder problem in their local area. Although there was no statistically significant difference between the proportion of victims of the selected household crimes and the proportion of victims of the selected personal crimes in the perception of most of the social disorder issues, victims of physical and/or threatened violence were more likely to identify public drunkenness as a problem in their local area than victims of actual and/or attempted break-in. Nearly one in ten (9.8%) victims of the selected personal crimes identified public drunkenness as a social disorder issue in their local area, which was almost double that of the 5.6% of victims of the selected households crimes that did the same. While it is not possible to state whether perceptions of the problem existed before the experience of victimisation or were influenced by it, data from Crime Victimisation, Australia, 2010-11 (cat. no. 4530.0) has shown that most victims believe alcohol or other drugs were involved in their most recent incident of physical and threatened violence (ABS 2012).

A similar proportion of victims of actual and/or attempted break-in and victims of physical and/or threatened violence reported experiencing a personal stressor in the 12 months prior to their interview. However, victims of the selected personal crimes were more likely than victims of the selected household crimes to have experienced serious illness (33.5% and 25.1% respectively), abuse or a violent crime (15.1% and 7.9% respectively), and trouble with the police (14.4% and 6.3% respectively). These particular stressors are potentially more strongly related to the experience of a forceful, personal crime where there is direct contact with the offender, than to the experience of a household crime where the incident can occur without the person being present.

6. PERCEIVED SOCIAL DISORDER PROBLEMS IN LOCAL AREA by WHETHER A VICTIM OF SELECTED HOUSEHOLD OR PERSONAL CRIMES

CONCLUSION

Analysis of the data revealed that outcomes on the fifteen selected indicators of social wellbeing varied according to whether a person had been a victim of a selected personal and/or household crime. It was found that a greater proportion of victims of the selected personal and/or household crimes had poorer outcomes on twelve of the fifteen social wellbeing measures. Victims of the selected personal and/or household crimes were, however, more likely to have frequent contact with friends and family and more likely to attend a community event, than persons who were not victims of the selected crimes.

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