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4714.0 - National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social Survey, 2008 Quality Declaration 
Latest ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 30/10/2009   
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This document was added 11/26/2013.



FEATURE ARTICLE: EXPERIENCES OF PHYSICAL VIOLENCE, 2008



CONTENTS:

Article:
- Introduction
- How many Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people experience physical violence?
- Women's experiences of physical violence
- Men's experiences of physical violence
- How do men and women's experiences of physical violence differ?
- Characteristics of people who experienced physical violence
- Conclusion

Explanatory Information:
- Data sources and definitions
- End notes

Related terms:
victimisation, physical abuse, assault, violence, family violence, intimate partner violence, domestic violence, domestic abuse, spousal abuse, interpersonal violence, stranger violence

NOTE: The data presented in this article is not directly comparable with Personal Safety Survey data or General Social Survey data.


INTRODUCTION:

This article provides a snapshot of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people's experiences of physical violence in the 12 months prior to the 2008 National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social Survey (NATSISS). As men and women tend to experience violence differently (Endnote 1), this article separates Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander men and women's experiences of physical assault and threatened physical violence.

The NATSISS is a large survey designed to inform about a wide range of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples' social, economic and health outcomes. The NATSISS includes information about how many Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people had experienced physical violence in the 12 months prior to interview. This provides information on the overall prevalence of physical violence for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. Where a person reported experiencing physical violence in the 12 months prior to interview, they were asked to provide information about their most recent incident of physical assault and/or physical threat. This included; the person's relationship to the perpetrator of physical assault, whether any injuries were sustained from physical assault and if so, whether a health professional was visited and whether the most recent incident of physical violence was reported to the police. This information can be used to help inform what happens when Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander persons experience physical violence. All of this information is discussed within this article.

This article also presents data on the socio-demographic characteristics of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people who have experienced physical violence. This information is provided to potentially support individuals and organisations to better understand and/or address the issue of physical assault and physical threat within the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander population. The NATSISS was not designed to examine causal relationships between variables so users should not infer causation between socio-demographic characteristics and experiences of physical violence from the NATSISS data alone.

What is physical violence?

In this article, the term physical violence refers to any incident involving the occurrence, attempt or threat of physical assault. This includes:
  • Physical Assault: Any incident where physical force is used with the intent to harm or frighten. Includes incidents where a person was pushed, shoved, hit or attacked with a weapon. Any physical force that was a legitimate part of participation in sport (e.g. boxing or martial arts) was excluded.
  • Physical threat: Any attempt to use or threat to use physical force or violence against a person. Includes incidents where a person was threatened in person, as well as non-face-to face threats made by letter, telephone or emails. Any incident that did not involve a physical threat, such as name calling or swearing, was excluded.
It is possible that people had experienced both physical assault and physical threat during the 12 months prior to interview. Components may not add to the total where a person has experienced both types and they are only counted once in the total for those experiencing 'physical violence'.

Information collected in NATSISS relates to the characteristics of a person's most recent incident of physical assault and most recent incident of physical threat. Information is not collected about other incidents of physical assault or physical threat that occurred during the 12 months prior to interview. As such, it is not possible for the NATSISS to produce the prevalence of specific elements of physical assault, especially not the prevalence of physical assault perpetrated by particular perpetrator types (e.g. current or previous partners, family members or strangers).

All data refers to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people aged 15 years and over.

HOW MANY ABORIGINAL AND TORRES STRAIT ISLANDER PEOPLE EXPERIENCE PHYSICAL VIOLENCE?

In the 12 months prior to the 2008 NATSISS, an estimated 80,200 (25%) Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people experienced at least one incident of physical violence (that is, an incident of physical assault and/or physical threat). A similar proportion of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander men (25%) and women (24%) had experienced physical violence during the 12 months prior to interview.

The prevalence of physical violence differed significantly across major cities and remote areas. An estimated 27,600 (26%) Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people living in major cities had experienced physical violence during the 12 months prior to interview months, compared to an estimated 17,800 (22%) Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people living in remote areas. The prevalence of physical violence in regional areas (25%) was not statistically different from the prevalence in major cities or remote areas.

Experiences of physical violence decreased with age:

In the 12 months prior to the 2008 NATSISS, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander men and women were equally likely to have experienced physical violence across each age group. A similar proportion of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people aged 15–24 years and 25–34 years had experienced physical violence in the 12 months prior to interview (31% and 28% respectively). Experiences of physical violence decreased significantly from one in four (25%) Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people aged 35–44 years, to one in five (19%) people aged 45–54 years and decreased significantly again to less than one in ten (8%) of people aged 55 years and over.


ABORIGINAL AND TORRES STRAIT ISLANDER PEOPLE WHO EXPERIENCED PHYSICAL VIOLENCE (a), by age and sex

Graphic: In the 12 months prior to the 2008 NATSISS, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people aged 15-24 years were more likely to have experienced physical violence than Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people aged 55 years and over


Rates of physical violence did not change between 2002 and 2008:

Due to differences in question sequencing between the 2002 and 2008 NATSISS, the prevalence rates for each survey are not directly comparable (for more information, refer to Data Sources and Definitions). When the 2008 NATSISS data is adjusted to make a reliable comparison to 2002 NATSISS data, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people were equally likely to have experienced physical assault or physical attempt or threat in the 12 months prior to the 2002 NATSISS (24%) and 2008 NATSISS (23%) (Endnote 4). Please note that these two rates have been created to provide the reader with an indication of change over time. They are not comparable with any other rates presented in this article.



WOMEN'S EXPERIENCES OF PHYSICAL VIOLENCE:

In the 12 months prior to the 2008 NATSISS, an estimated 42,300 (25%) Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women had experienced one or more incidents of physical violence. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women were significantly more likely to have experienced physical threat (19%) than physical assault (15%) during the 12 months prior to interview. An estimated 15,300 (9%) Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women had experienced both physical assault and physical threat in the 12 months prior to interview.


ABORIGINAL AND TORRES STRAIT ISLANDER WOMEN'S EXPERIENCES OF PHYSICAL VIOLENCE DURING THE 12 MONTHS PRIOR TO INTERVIEW

Graphic: In the 12 months prior to the 2008 NATSISS, an estimated 42,255 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women aged 15 years and over experienced at least one incident of physical violence.


PHYSICAL ASSAULT:

Among the 24,800 Aboriginal and Torres Strait women who had experienced physical assault during the 12 months prior to interview, almost all (94%) knew the perpetrator of their most recent incident of physical assault. A small proportion (6%) of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women who experienced physical assault identified the perpetrator of their most recent incident as a stranger.

ABORIGINAL AND TORRES STRAIT ISLANDER WOMEN WHO EXPERIENCED PHYSICAL ASSAULT IN THE 12 MONTHS PRIOR TO INTERVIEW, relationship to the perpetrator in most recent incident of physical assault (a)(b)(c)

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women who were physically assaulted in the 12 months prior to interview were most likely to identify a current or previous partner and/or a family member as the perpetrator of their most recent assault


Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women who had experienced physical assault during the 12 months prior to interview were significantly more likely to identify a current or previous partner (married or defacto) (32%) and/or a family member (28%) as the perpetrator of their most recent incident of physical assault than any other relationship to perpetrator type. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women who were physically assaulted were significantly more likely to have identified a previous partner (21%) as the perpetrator of physical assault than their current partner (12%).

Around two in five (22%) Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women who were physically assaulted during the 12 months prior to interview identified the perpetrator as an other known person, a relationship category which includes boyfriend, girlfriend or date, ex-boyfriend/ ex-girlfriend or date, neighbours, work colleagues, fellow students and other known people.

A similar proportion of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women who experienced physical assault during the 12 months prior to interview identified the perpetrator (or one of the perpetrators) of their most recent incident of physical assault as a friend (10%), a person that they knew only by sight (8%) and/or a stranger (6%).

Women's injuries in most recent incident of physical assault

Among the estimated 24,800 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women who had experienced physical assault during the 12 months prior to interview, 60% were physically harmed or injured in their most recent incident.

It was possible that women could report more than one type of injury. Bruising was the most common type of injury reported by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women who sustained an injury (80%) in their most recent incident of physical assault. Around two in five (40%) Aboriginal and Torres Strait women sustained cuts, 30% sustained scratches and 11% sustained fractured or broken bones (including teeth). Around one in five (21%) women who were injured reported sustaining another type of injury, a category which includes penetrative injuries (stabbing or gun shot), miscarriage and any other injuries. The type of injuries sustained by women who were injured in their most recent incident did not change according to their age or their relationship to the perpetrator.

ABORIGINAL AND TORRES STRAIT ISLANDER WOMEN WHO WERE INJURED IN THEIR MOST RECENT INCIDENT OF PHYSICAL ASSAULT, Type of injury sustained (a)(b)

Graphic: Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women who were injured in their most recent incident of physical assault were most likely to have reported experiencing bruising.

Half (50%) of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women who sustained an injury in their most recent incident of physical assault visited a health professional.

Women's reporting of most recent incident of physical assault to the police

In the 12 months prior to the 2008 NATSISS, three out of five (60%) Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women who experienced physical assault had reported their most recent incident to the police. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women aged 15-24 years were significantly less likely to report their most recent incident of physical assault to the police than Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women aged 35-44 years (52% compared to 72%).There were no significant differences between women of other age groups in the reporting of their most recent incident of physical assault to the police.

Women's reporting of the most recent incident of physical assault to the police varied according to their relationship to the perpetrator. In the 12 months prior to the 2008 NATSISS, around two in three (65%) Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women whose most recent incident of physical assault was perpetrated by a current or previous partner reported the incident to the police. By comparison, a significantly smaller proportion of women whose most recent incident of physical assault was perpetrated by a family member (48%) or someone that they knew by sight only (41%) reported the incident to the police.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women who sustained an injury in their most recent incident were significantly more likely to report the physical assault to the police than women who did not sustain an injury in their most recent incident of physical assault (69% compared to 46%).

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women who experienced both physical assault and physical threat during the 12 months prior to interview were significantly more likely to have reported their most recent incident of physical assault to the police than women who had only experienced physical assault (65% compared to 51%).

PHYSICAL THREAT:

Among the estimated 32,800 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women who experienced an incident of physical threat during the 12 months prior to interview, 26,500 (81%) were living in non-remote areas. Only people in non-remote areas were asked whether or not their most recent incident of physical threat was made in person. Of the estimated 26,500 women living in non-remote areas who had experienced an incident of physical threat, almost all (85%) reported that their most recent threat/s had been made in person. The remaining 15% of women experienced their most recent incident of physical threat through alternative mediums, such as in an email or letter or during a telephone conversation.

Women's reporting of most recent incident of physical threat to the police

In the 12 months prior to the 2008 NATSISS, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women were significantly more likely to experience an incident of physical threat (19%) than physical assault (15%), but were significantly less likely to report physical threat to the police than to report physical assault (40% compared to 60%). Nearly half (47%) of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women who experienced both physical assault and physical threat during the 12 months prior to interview reported their most recent incident of physical threat to the police. A significantly smaller proportion of women who experienced physical threat only during the 12 months prior to interview (34%) reported their most recent incident to the police.

MEN'S EXPERIENCES OF PHYSICAL VIOLENCE:

In the 12 months prior to the 2008 NATSISS, an estimated 38,000 (24%) Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander men had experienced one or more incidents of physical violence. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander men were equally likely to have experienced physical assault (17%) or physical threat (15%) during the 12 months prior to interview. An estimated 11,600 (7%) Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander men had experienced one or more incidents of both physical assault and physical threat during the 12 months prior to interview.


ABORIGINAL AND TORRES STRAIT ISLANDER MEN'S EXPERIENCES OF PHYSICAL VIOLENCE DURING THE 12 MONTHS PRIOR TO INTERVIEW

In the 12 months prior to the 2008 NATSISS, an estimated 37,959 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander men experienced physical violence

PHYSICAL ASSAULT:

Among the estimated 23,000 Aboriginal and Torres Strait men who had experienced physical assault in the 12 months prior to interview, around three out of four (77%) knew the perpetrator of their most recent incident of physical assault and nearly one in four (23%) were physically assaulted by a stranger.

ABORIGINAL AND TORRES STRAIT ISLANDER MEN WHO EXPERIENCED PHYSICAL ASSAULT IN THE 12 MONTHS PRIOR TO INTERVIEW, relationship to the perpetrator in most recent incident of physical assault (a)(b)(c)

Graphic: Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander men who experienced physical assault were equally likely to have identified the perpetrator of their most recent incident as an other known person, a stranger, a person known by sight only or a family member


In the 12 months prior to the 2008 NATSISS, one in four (25%) Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander men who had experienced physical assault identified the perpetrator of their most recent incident as an other known person, a category which includes a boyfriend/girlfriend or date, an ex-boyfriend/ ex-girlfriend or date, neighbours, work colleagues, fellow students and other known people. There were no significant differences between the proportion of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander men who identified the perpetrator of their most recent incident of physical assault as another known person (25%), a stranger (23%), a person known by sight only (20%) and/or a family member (20%).

Around one in six (16%) Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander men who experienced physical assault during the 12 months prior to interview identified the perpetrator of their most recent incident as a friend. The proportion of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander men who identified that their most recent incident of physical assault was perpetrated by a friend (16%) was significantly smaller than the proportion of men who identified another known person (25%) and/or a stranger (23%) as the perpetrator of their most recent incident of physical assault. There were no significant differences between the proportion of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander men who identified the perpetrator of their most recent incident of physical assault as a person known by sight only (20%), a family member (20%) and/or a friend (16%),

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander men who experienced physical assault during the 12 months prior to interview were significantly less likely to identify a current or previous partner as the perpetrator of their most recent incident of physical assault than any other perpetrator type. Around 2%* of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander men who were physically assaulted identified a current or previous partner as the perpetrator of physical assault.

* This estimate has an RSE of between 25% and 50% and should be used with caution.

Men's injuries from most recent incident of physical assault

Among the estimated 23,000 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander men who were physically assaulted during the 12 months prior to interview, around half (49%) identified that they had been physically injured or harmed in their most recent incident of physical assault.

It was possible that men could report more than one type of injury. The most common injuries reported by men in their most recent incident of physical assault included bruising (69%) and/or cuts (56%). A similar proportion of men who were injured sustained scratches (30%) and/or fractured or broken bones (including teeth) (26%). Around 14% of men who were injured during their most recent incident of physical assault sustained another type of injury (including penetrative injuries such as stabbing or gunshot and other injuries).

ABORIGINAL AND TORRES STRAIT ISLANDER MEN WHO WERE INJURED IN THEIR MOST RECENT INCIDENT OF PHYSICAL ASSAULT, Type of injury sustained (a)(b)

Graphic: Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander men who were injured in their most recent incident of physical assault were most likely to have reported bruising and/or cuts.


Around half (46%) of the men who were injured in their most recent incident of physical assault visited a health professional as a result of their injury or injuries. Men who suffered fractured or broken bones (including teeth) were more likely to have visited a health professional than men who suffered bruising (68% compared to 43%). There were no significant differences in visiting a health professional amongst men who suffered other types of injuries in their most recent incident of physical assault.

Men's reporting of most recent incident of physical assault to the police

Among the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander men who were physically assaulted, less than one in three (30%) reported their most recent incident of physical assault to the police.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander men aged 15–24 years were less likely to report their most recent incident of physical assault to the police than men aged 35–44 years and over (20% compared to 45%). There were no significant differences between men of other age groups in reporting of their most recent incident of physical assault to the police.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander men who sustained an injury were more likely to report their most recent incident of violence to the police compared to men who were not injured (38% compared to 22%).

PHYSICAL THREAT:

Among the estimated 26,000 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander men who experienced an incident of physical threat during the 12 months prior to interview, 20,800 (78%) were living in non-remote areas. Only people living in non-remote areas were asked whether or not their most recent incident of physical threat was made in person. Nearly all (90%) of the estimated 20,800 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander men who experienced physical threat (living in non-remote areas) reported that their most recent incident was made in person. The remaining 10% of men experienced their most recent incident of physical threat through alternative mediums, such as letters or emails or during a telephone conversation.

Men's reporting of most recent incident of physical threat to the police

In the 12 months prior to the 2008 NATSISS, one in four (23%) Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander men who experienced an incident of physical threat reported their most recent incident to the police. The proportion of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander men who had experienced physical threat during the 12 months prior to interview and reported their most recent incident of physical threat to the police (23%) was not significantly different to the proportion of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander men who had experienced physical assault during the 12 months prior to interview and reported their most recent incident of physical assault to the police (30%).

The proportion of men who reported an incident of physical threat to the police did not differ significantly according to their age. In addition to this, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander men who had experienced both physical assault and physical threat during the 12 months prior to interview were equally likely to have reported their most recent incident of physical threat to the police as men who had only experienced physical threat (23% compared to 22%).




HOW DO ABORIGINAL AND TORRES STRAIT ISLANDER MEN AND WOMEN'S EXPERIENCES OF PHYSICAL VIOLENCE DIFFER?

In the 12 months prior to the 2008 NATSISS, a similar proportion of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander men and women had experienced physical violence (24% and 25% respectively). Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander men and women were equally likely to have experienced physical assault during the 12 months prior to interview (both 15%). There were no significant differences in the proportion of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander men and women who experienced physical threat (17% compared to 19%) or in the proportion who had experienced both physical assault and physical threat (7% men and 9% women).

Whilst Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women were significantly more likely to experience an incident of physical threat than an incident of physical assault (19% compared to 15%), there were no significant differences in the proportion of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander men who experienced an incident of physical assault (17%) or physical threat (15%).


ABORIGINAL AND TORRES STRAIT ISLANDER PEOPLE'S EXPERIENCES OF PHYSICAL VIOLENCE IN THE 12 MONTHS PRIOR TO INTERVIEW (a), by sex

Graphic: Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander men and women were equally likely to have experienced physical violence in the 12 months prior to the 2008 NATSISS.

PHYSICAL ASSAULT:

Whilst Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander men and women were equally likely to have experienced physical assault during the 12 months prior to interview, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander men and women's experiences of physical assault differed.

The fundamental difference between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander men and women's experiences of physical assault was the relationship to perpetrator. In the 12 months prior to the 2008 NATSISS, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women who had experienced physical assault were significantly more likely than Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander men who had experienced physical assault to identify the perpetrator of their most recent incident of violence as a person known to them (94% compared to 77%). Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander men who experienced physical assault during the 12 months prior to interview were almost four times more likely than Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women who experienced physical assault to have identified the perpetrator of their most recent incident as a stranger (23% compared to 6%).


ABORIGINAL AND TORRES STRAIT ISLANDER PEOPLE WHO EXPERIENCED PHYSICAL ASSAULT(a), whether knew the perpetrator/s of most recent incident by sex

Graphic: Among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people who were physically assaulted, women were more likely to know the perpetrator of the most recent incident than men.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women who experienced physical assault were significantly more likely than Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander men who experienced physical assault to identify the perpetrator of their most recent incident as a current or previous partner (32% compared to 2%*) or as a family member (28% compared to 20%). The proportion of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander men who experienced physical assault and identified the perpetrator of their most recent incident as a person known by sight only was more than twice that of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women who experienced physical assault (20% compared to 8%). There were no significant differences in the proportion of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander men and women who identified the perpetrator of their most recent incident of physical assault as a friend (16% men and 10% women) or another known person (25% men and 19% women).

* Estimate has a relative standard error of between 25% and 50% and should be used with caution.


ABORIGINAL AND TORRES STRAIT ISLANDER PEOPLE WHO EXPERIENCED PHYSICAL ASSAULT, relationship to a known perpetrator in most recent incident (a) by sex.


Graphic: Among the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people who experienced physical assault, women were significantly more likely than men to identify the perpetrator of their most recent incident as a current or previous partner.


Injuries from most recent incident of physical assault:

Among the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people who experienced physical assault during the 12 months prior to interview, women were significantly more likely than men to report that they had sustained an injury in their most recent incident (60% compared to 49%).

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women were significantly more likely than men to report that they suffered bruises in their most recent incident of physical assault during the 12 months prior to interview (80% compared to 69%). Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander men were significantly more likely than Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women to report that they suffered cuts in their most recent incident of physical assault during the 12 months prior to interview (56% compared to 40%). The proportion of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander men who sustained fractured or broken bone injuries in their most recent incident of physical assault was more than double the proportion of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women who sustained the same injuries (26% compared to 11%).


ABORIGINAL AND TORRES STRAIT ISLANDER PEOPLE WHO WERE INJURED IN MOST RECENT INCIDENT OF PHYSICAL ASSAULT (a), Type of Injury sustained (b), by sex

Graphic: Among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people who were injured in their more recent incident of physical assault, men were more likely than women to have experienced cuts or fractured or broken bones (including teeth).

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander men and women who were injured in their most recent incident of physical assault in the 12 months prior to interview were equally likely to have visited a health professional due to their injuries (46% and 50% respectively). Among the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander men and women who were injured in their most recent incident of physical assault, there were no significant differences in whether a health professional was visited according to the type of injury sustained.

Reporting of most recent incident of physical violence to the police

Among the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people who experienced physical assault during the 12 months prior to interview, women reported their most recent incident of physical assault to the police at twice the rate of men (60% compared to 30%).

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women who had experienced both physical assault and physical threat in the 12 months prior to interview were significantly more likely to report their most recent incident of physical assault to the police than women who had only experienced physical assault (65% compared to 51%). By contrast, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander men who experienced both physical assault and physical threat in the 12 months prior to interview were equally likely to have reported their most recent incident of physical assault to the police as men who had only experienced physical assault during the 12 months prior to interview.

ABORIGINAL AND TORRES STRAIT ISLANDER PEOPLE WHO EXPERIENCED PHYSICAL ASSAULT(a), reporting of most recent incident of physical assault to the police by sex

Among the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people who experienced physical assault in the 12 months prior to interview, women were significantly more likely than men to report the most recent incident of physical assault to the police


The rates of reporting the most recent incident of physical assault to the police were significantly higher amongst Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander men and women who were injured in their most recent incident (38% and 68% respectively) than those who were not injured in their most recent incident (22% and 46% respectively).

PHYSICAL THREAT:

In the 12 months prior to the 2008 NATSISS, a similar proportion of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander men and women experienced physical threat (17% compared to 19%). There were no significant differences between the proportion of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander men and women living in non-remote areas who experienced their most recent incident of physical threat face to face (90% and 85%).

Reporting of most recent incident of physical threat to the police

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women who experienced physical threat during the 12 months prior to interview were significantly more likely to have reported their most recent incident of physical threat to the police than Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander men who experienced physical threat during the same reference period (40% compared to 23%).

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women who had experienced both physical threat and physical assault in the 12 months prior to interview were significantly more likely to report their most recent incident of physical threat to the police than women who had only experienced physical threat (47% compared to 34%). By contrast, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander men who experienced both physical threat and physical assault in the 12 months prior to interview were equally likely to have reported their most recent incident of physical threat to the police as men who had only experienced physical assault during the 12 months prior to interview (23% and 22% respectively).


ABORIGINAL AND TORRES STRAIT ISLANDER PEOPLE WHO EXPERIENCED PHYSICAL THREAT(a), Reporting of most recent incident of physical threat to the police, by sex

Graphic: Among the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people who experienced physical threat in the 12 months prior to interview, women were significantly more likely than men to report the most recent incident to the police.



CHARACTERISTICS OF PEOPLE WHO EXPERIENCED PHYSICAL VIOLENCE:

The 2008 NATSISS provides a snapshot of the socio-demographic characteristics of the 80,200 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people who experienced physical violence (i.e. an incident of physical assault and/or physical threat) during the 12 months prior to interview. As mentioned in the introduction, violence is a complex issue which can only be understood as an interplay of multiple factors (Endnote 2). The NATSISS was not designed to examine causal relationships between variables so users should not infer causation between socio-demographic characteristics and experiences of physical violence from the NATSISS data.

The characteristics discussed in this section include:
Education:

There were no significant differences in education attainment between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people who had and had not experienced physical violence. Excluding those who were studying at secondary school, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people who experienced physical violence in the 12 months prior to interview had the same level of educational attainment as those people who had not experienced physical violence during the same reference period:
  • Year 12 as highest year of school completed (24% compared to 21%)
  • Year 10/11 as the highest year of school completed (45% compared to 44%)
  • A non-school qualification (37% compared to 34%)

Labour force status:

There were no significant differences in the labour force participation rates of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people who had experienced physical violence and those who had not experienced physical violence (64% compared to 61%).

A similar proportion of men and women who had experienced physical violence during the 12 months prior to interview were unemployed and looking for work (20% and 23% respectively). Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women who had experienced physical violence in the 12 months prior to interview were significantly more likely to be unemployed (23%) than women who had not experienced physical violence during the same reference period (15%).

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people (a): UNEMPLOYMENT RATE, by sex and whether experienced physical violence (b)(c)

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women who had experienced physical violence during the 12 months prior to the 2008 NATSISS were more likely to be unemployed than Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women who had not experienced physical violence.
Financial Stress:

In the 12 months prior to the 2008 NATSISS, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander men and women who had experienced physical violence were significantly more likely to live in a household which ran out of money for basic living expenses during the same reference period (38% and 40% respectively) than men and women who had not experienced physical violence (24% and 25% respectively).

A significantly larger proportion of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people who had experienced physical violence during the 12 months prior to interview were living in a household that had difficulty paying bills on time (33% of men and 36% of women) compared to around one in five Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people who had not experienced physical violence (18% of men and 21% of women). Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people who had experienced physical violence were almost three times as likely as those who had not experienced physical violence to live in a household which had difficulty paying 10 or more bills in the 12 months prior to interview (11% compared to 4%).

Health Status:

Disability and Long term health conditions:

The 2008 NATISS asked a number of questions to establish disability status and disability type for persons aged 15 years and over. A person was regarded as having a disability or long-term health condition if they had one ore more conditions which had lasted, or were likely to last, for six months or more, and that restricted every day activities. People were identified as having a profound or severe core-activity limitation if they required help or supervision for one ore more core activities, such as self-care, mobility or communication (Endnote 6). For further information, refer to the 2008 NATSISS user guide (ABS catalogue number 4720.0).

Nationally, 50% of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people had a disability or long term health condition in 2008. Around one in twelve (8%) had a profound or severe core activity limitation. This section of the article will investigate the prevalence of disability and long term health conditions amongst Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people who have an have not experienced physical violence in the 12 months prior to the 2008 NATSISS. It will also investigate this topic for a subset of those with a profound or severe core activity limitation. As previously noted, the NATSISS questions are not structured to investigate the relationship between physical violence and many other characteristics such as disability and long term health conditions. However, the data collected does provide associations between two variables but the nature of the relationship, such as causes or affects, is not apparent through the data alone.

In 2008, around three out of five Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander men (55%) and women (60%) who had experienced physical violence in the 12 months prior to interview reported that they experienced a disability or long term health condition which had lasted, or was expected to last for six months or more, and that restricted their everyday activities. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander men who had experienced physical violence in the 12 months prior to interview were significantly more likely to experience a disability or long term health condition than Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander men who had not experienced physical violence (55% compared to 46%). Similarly, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women who had experienced physical violence in the 12 months prior to interview were significantly more likely to experience a disability or long term health condition than Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women who had not experienced physical violence (60% compared to 48%).

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people (a): HAS A DISABILITY OR LONG TERM HEALTH CONDITION, by sex and whether experienced physical violence (b)(c)

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people who had experienced physical violence were more likely to have had a disability or long term health condition than those who did not experience physical violence.


In 2008, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people who had and had not experienced physical violence during the 12 months prior to interview were equally likely to report experiencing a profound or severe core activity limitation. Around one in twelve (8%) of all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people reported that they had a profound or severe core activity limitation.

Self-assessed health:

One in three (36%) Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women who had experienced physical violence reported their health as "excellent or very good". The proportion of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women who had experienced physical violence in the 12 months prior to interview and reported "excellent or very good health" (36%) was significantly smaller than that reported by women who had not experienced violence during the same reference period (43%). By comparison, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander men who had experienced physical violence during the 12 months prior to interview were equally likely to have reported "excellent or very good" health as men who had not experienced violence during the same reference period (47% and 46% respectively).


Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people (a): EXCELLENT OR VERY GOOD SELF-ASSESSED HEALTH, by sex and whether experienced physical violence (b)(c)

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women who had experienced physical violence in the 12 months prior to interview were less likely to report excellent or very good self-assessed health than other Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people

Psychological distress:

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people who had experienced physical violence were more likely to report "high or very high levels" of psychological distress than those who had not experienced physical violence (46% compared to 26%). Around half (53%) of women who had experienced experienced physical violence reported high or very high levels of psychological distress. This is a significantly higher rate than men who had experienced violence (38%) and nearly double the rates of men and women who had not experienced physical violence (23% and 28% respectively).


Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people (a): HIGH–VERY HIGH LEVELS OF PSYCHOLOGICAL DISTRESS, by sex and whether experienced physical violence (b)(c)

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people who had experienced physical violence during the 12 months prior to interview reported significantly higher rates of psychological distress than those who had not experienced physical violence in the last year

Selected Multiple Health Risk Factors:

The 2008 NATSISS included a series of questions relating to health risk factors, specifically those related to lifestyle behaviours such as smoking, alcohol consumption and substance use. Individuals who were current daily smokers at the time of the interview, reported chronic risky/high risk alcohol consumption in the 12 months prior to interview or used substances (includes use of illicit substances and/or misuse of prescription drugs) in the 12 months prior to interview were considered at higher risk of poor health outcomes than individuals who did not smoke tobacco daily, did not consume alcohol at risky/high levels or did not consume illicit substances or misuse prescription drugs in the 12 months months prior to interview (Endnote 6). The risk of poorer health outcomes (such as injury or long term health conditions) is believed to be higher amongst those individuals who engage in more than one of these selected health risk factors (Endnote 6). This section of the article will investigate these selected multiple health risk factors amongst Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people who had and had not experienced physical violence in the 12 months prior to interview. The 2008 NATSISS did not ask whether any of these selected health risk factors were involved in an incident of physical violence that occurred during the 12 months prior to interview, so a cause-and-effect relationship between these selected health risk factors and physical violence cannot be inferred.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander men who had and had not experienced physical violence during the 12 months prior to interview were equally likely to have engaged in one of these selected health risk factors in the 12 months prior to interview (29% each). Likewise, a similar proportion of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women who had and had not experienced violence reported engaging in one of these selected health risk factors (33% and 32% respectively).

Around one in four Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people who had experienced physical violence during the 12 months prior to interview reported that they had engaged in two of these selected health risk factors during the same reference period (27% men and 23% women). Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women who had experienced physical violence during the 12 months prior to interview reported engaging in two of these selected health risk factors at around twice the rate of women who had not experienced physical violence during the same reference period (23% compared to 10%). Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander men who experienced physical violence during the 12 months prior to interview were also significantly more likely to report engaging in two of these selected health risk factors than men who had not experienced physical violence during the same reference period (27% compared to 16%).

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander men who had experienced physical violence during the 12 months prior to interview reported a significantly higher rate of engaging in all three selected health risk factors (13%) than other Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander men or women. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women who experienced physical violence during the 12 months prior to interview were equally likely to have reported engaging in all three selected health risk factors as Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander men who did not experienced physical violence during the same reference period (6% and 5% respectively), and were significantly more likely to have engaged in all three selected health risk factors during the 12 months prior to interview as women who had not experienced physical violence during the same reference period (6% compared to 2%).


Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people (a): SELECTED MULTIPLE HEALTH RISK FACTORS (b), by sex and whether experienced physical violence (c)(d)

Graphic: Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people who had experienced physical violence in the 12 months prior to interview were significantly more likely to report engaging in 2 health risk factor than those who had not experienced physical violence


Life experiences:

Discrimination

Nearly half (46%) of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people who had experienced physical violence in the 12 months prior to interview had also experienced racial discrimination during the same referenced period, compared to 21% of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people who had not experienced physical violence in the 12 months prior to interview. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander men and women who had experienced physical violence in the 12 months prior to interview were equally likely to have experienced discrimination (46% and 47% respectively), as were Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander men and women who had not experienced physical violence during the same reference period (22% and 20% respectively).

Among the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people who had experienced discrimination, the top three situations or places where discrimination was reported to have occurred was in the criminal justice system (by police, security people, lawyers or in a court of law) (40%), by members of the public (41%) and when at work or applying for work (30%).

Experiences of discrimination differed according to sex and whether the individual had experienced physical violence in the 12 months prior to interview:
  • Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander men who had experienced physical violence were significantly more likely to have experienced discrimination within the criminal justice system (59%) than men who had not experienced physical violence (45%). Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women who had experienced physical violence in the 12 months prior to interview reported a similar rate of discrimination in the criminal justice system as Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander men who had not experienced physical violence during the same reference period (37% and 45% respectively). Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women who had not experienced physical violence were significantly less likely to have experienced discrimination within the criminal justice system (25%) than other Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander men or women.

  • Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander men and women who had experienced physical violence in the 12 months prior to interview were equally likely to have reported experiencing discrimination by members of the public (46% and 47% respectively). Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander men who had not experienced physical violence in the 12 months prior to interview reported a similar rate of experiencing discrimination by members of the public (40%) as Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander men and women who had experienced physical violence (46% and 47%). Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women who had not experienced physical violence in the 12 months prior to interview were significantly less likely to have experienced discrimination by members of the public (34%) than other Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander men or women.
  • Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander men who had experienced physical violence in the 12 months prior to interview were significantly more likely have experienced discrimination at work or when applying for work (39%) than men who had not experienced physical violence (30%). Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women who had experienced physical violence in the 12 months prior to interview were significantly less likely to have experienced discrimination at work or when applying for work (22%) than Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women who did not experience physical violence during the same reference period (29%).


Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people (a): TOP THREE SITUATIONS WHERE DISCRIMINATION WAS REPORTED TO HAVE OCCURRED(b), by sex and whether experienced physical violence (c)(d)

Graphic: Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people who had experienced physical violence were more likely to have reported experiencing discrimination in the crime justice system than those who had not experienced physical violence

Life stressors

Life stressors refer to situations or events (e.g. death of a family member, lost job, separation/marriage breakdown) which occurred during the 12 months prior to interview which the respondent found stressful. In the 12 months prior to the 2008 NATSISS, three in four (74%) Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people who had experienced physical violence reported that they had also experienced one or more life events which they found stressful, compared to half (52%) of other Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people who had experienced physical violence were more likely to have experienced one or more life stressors associated with crime and the criminal justice system. Around 17% of men who had experienced physical violence reported that they had also experienced "trouble with the police" during the 12 months prior to interview. This is double the proportion of women who had experienced violence (8%) and around four times the proportion of people who had not experienced physical violence (4% of men and 2% of women). Men and women who had experienced physical violence were also more likely to have witnessed violence against other people (10% and 11% respectively) than men and women who had not experienced physical violence (1% and 2% respectively).


Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people (a): LIFE STRESSORS PERSONALLY EXPERIENCED, by sex and whether experienced physical violence (b)(c)

Graphic: Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people who had experienced physical violence were significantly more likely to have experienced stressful events related to the criminal justice system than those who had not experienced physical violence


Removal:

The NATSISS included questions about whether an individual or any of their relatives had been removed from their natural family by welfare or the government, or taken away to a mission, for a period of more than 6 months. Around one in eight (13%) Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people who had experienced physical violence stated that they had personally experienced removal from their natural family, compared to 7% of other Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. Men and women who had experienced physical violence were equally likely to have been removed from their natural family (12% and 14% respectively), as were men and women who had not experienced physical violence (both 7%).


CONCLUSION:

The 2008 NATSISS data indicated that a fundamental difference between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander men and women's experiences of physical assault during the 12 months prior to interview was the person's relationship to perpetrator. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women who experienced physical assault during the 12 months prior to interview were significantly more likely to know the perpetrator of their most recent incident than men who experienced physical assault during the same reference period. Another key finding from the 2008 NATSISS was that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people who had experienced physical violence in the 12 months prior to interview were more likely to have also experienced poorer health (e.g. higher levels of psychological distress) or negative life experiences (e.g. discrimination) in the 12 months prior to interview, than Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people who had not experienced physical violence during the same reference period.
DATA SOURCES AND DEFINITIONS

The data used in this article was collected in the 2008 National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social Survey (NATSISS). Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people aged 15 years and over were asked about their experiences of physical violence during the 12 months prior to interview. This included any incident where physical force or violence was used against them or where they were threatened with physical force or violence. Due to the sensitive nature of the questions, responses were not compulsory and a person may have chosen not to answer any (or particular) questions. Where individuals had experienced more than one incident of physical assault or threatened violence, they were asked to focus on their most recent incident of violence.

Physical Violence: Any incident which involves the occurrence, attempt or threat of physical assault.

Physical Assault: Any incident which involves physical assault, where physical assault is the use of physical force with the intent to harm or frighten. Types of incidents included any time when a person was pushed, shoved, hit or attacked with a weapon. Any physical force that was a legitimate part of participation in sport (e.g. boxing or martial arts) was excluded.

Physical Threat: Any attempt to use or threat to use physical force or violence against a person. Types of incidents that were included any time when a person was threatened in person, by letter, telephone or emails. Any Incident that did not involve a physical threat, such as name calling or swearing, was excluded.

Relationship to perpetrator: People who had experienced physical assault during the 12 months prior to interview were asked whether they knew the perpetrator of their most recent incident of physical assault. If the person knew the offender of their most recent incident of physical assault, they were asked to nominate their relationship to the perpetrator from a list of response categories. As any incident of violence can be perpetrated by more than one offender, people could identify more than one relationship type.

The types of relationship to perpetrator described in this article are defined as:
  • Current or Previous Partner: Includes response categories of "current partner (defacto/husband/wife)" or "previous partner (defacto/husband/wife)".
  • Family relationship: Includes response categories of "parent", "child", "sibling", "other family member". Excludes partners, who by marriage, may be classified as family member. The category "other family member" was open to the interpretation of the respondent.
  • Friend: Includes response category "friend"
  • Other known person: Includes response categories of "boyfriend, girlfriend or date" and "ex-boyfriend or ex-girlfriend". "work colleague/fellow student", "neighbour", "Other known person".
  • Known by sight only: Includes response category of "known by sight only".
  • Stranger: People who did not know the perpetrator of their most recent incident of physical assault.

Disability or Long Term Health condition: In the 2008 NATSISS, respondents were asked if they had a disability or a long-term health condition that had lasted, or was expected to last, for six months or more. Those that did were also asked if they needed help with one or more core activities of daily living (self-care, mobility and communication). For further information, refer to the "Health" chapter of the 2008 NATSISS User guide (ABS cat. no. 4720.0) The NATSISS did not establish whether any disability or long-term health conditions reported was related to experiences of physical assault or threatened violence.

Chronic Consumption of Alcohol at risky or high risk levels: The 2008 NATSISS asked respondents aged 15 years and over to report the amount of alcohol consumed on a usual drinking day, as well as the frequency of consumption in the 12 months prior to interview. This information was used to determine their Chronic (long-term) alcohol risk level, based on the 2001 National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) guidelines for minimising the risk of long term harm from the consumption of alcohol.
  • Risky levels of alcohol consumption is defined as a level of drinking at which the risk of harm significantly outweighs any potential health benefits. The 2001 NHMRC guidelines indicate a risky level of chronic alcohol consumption is 5-6 standard alcoholic drinks per day for adult males and 3-4 standard alcoholic drinks for adult females.
  • High risk levels of alcohol consumption is associated with substantial risk of serious harm to the drinker. The 2001 NHMRC guidelines indicate a high risk level of chronic alcohol consumption is 7 or more standard alcoholic drinks per day for adult males and 5 or more standard alcoholic drinks per day for adult females.
For further information, refer to the Information paper "Revised 2002 and 2008 NATSISS Alcohol Data by risk level, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples, 2013" (ABS cat. no. 4714.0.55.005).

Comparisons to 2002 NATSISS:
The 2002 NATSISS asked Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people aged 15 years and over about experiences of physical or threatened violence in the 12 months prior to interview. If a respondent indicated that they had experienced physical violence, they were not asked about experiences of threatened violence. By comparison, the 2008 NATSISS asked all respondents aged 15 years and over the physical violence and threatened violence questions, regardless of their previous answers. Due to this difference in sequencing between the 2002 NATSISS and 2008 NATSISS, the victimisation rates are not directly comparable. When the 2008 NATSISS data is adjusted to make a reliable comparison to 2002 NATSISS data, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people were equally likely to have experienced physical or threatened violence in 2002 (24%) and 2008 (23%).

ENDNOTES:
  1. Australian Bureau of Statistics, 2006, Personal Safety, Australia, 2005, ABS, Canberra (ABS cat. no. 4906.0)
  2. Krug, E, Dahlberg, L, Mercy, J, Ziwi, A, & Lozano, R (2002) World Report on violence and health, World Health Organisation, Geneva.
  3. Australian Bureau of Statistics, 2009, Conceptual Framework for Family and Domestic Violence, 2009, ABS, Canberra (ABS cat. no. 4529.0).
  4. Australian Bureau of Statistics, 2009, National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social Survey, 2008, ABS, Canberra (ABS cat. no. 4714.0)
  5. Vos, T, Barker, B, Stanley, L, & Lopez A (2003) The Burden of Disease and Injury in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples, The University of Queensland, Brisbane.
  6. Australian Bureau of Statistics, 2010, The Health and Welfare of Australia's Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples, ABS, Canberra (ABS cat. no. 4704.0)


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