4906.0.55.003 - Personal Safety Survey, Australia: User Guide, 2016  
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VIOLENCE – MOST RECENT INCIDENT

POPULATION

Information was obtained from men and women aged 18 years an over in the 2016 PSS that had experienced any incident involving the occurrence, attempt or threat of either physical or sexual assault within the last 10 years.

DEFINITION

Incident

An incident refers to an occurrence of attempted assault or threatened assault which is experienced by an individual.

Respondents were asked about the most recent incident for the 8 types of violence (Sexual assault, Threatened Sexual Assault, Physical Assault and Threatened Physical Assault each by male and female perpetrators). Where the respondent may have been involved in continuous acts of a particular type of violence, they were instructed to only think about the most recent act of violence when answering the questions. This chapter covers details regarding the Most Recent Incident (MRI) for each of these 8 types of violence.

Sexual Violence and Physical Violence

Refer to the explanations for both sexual violence and physical violence in the Violence Prevalence chapter of this User Guide.

Relationship to perpetrator

Refer to the definition of relationship types in the Violence Prevalence chapter of this User Guide. Relationship to perpetrator in MRI is only related to the perpetrator of the most recent incident. In instances where more than one perpetrator was involved in the incident, respondents are asked to select the person that they thought was mainly responsible.

METHODOLOGY

The Violence MRI module is designed to collect detailed information about the most recent incident of violence experienced, for selected types of violence (less than 10 years prior to the survey). This includes characteristics of the incident itself, such as:

  • The relationship of the perpetrator to the respondent
  • The location of the incident
  • Whether alcohol or any other substance was involved
  • Actions taken following the incident, such as whether the incident was reported to police and if advice or support were sought after the incident
  • Long-term impacts of the violence, such as whether anxiety or fear was felt following the incident or whether any time was taken off work

The characteristics and actions taken following an incident of violence differ depending on the type of violence a person experienced and the gender of the perpetrator. Due to constraints on the length of an interview and the load placed on respondents, it was not possible to collect detailed information about every incident of violence a person had experienced. Instead, detailed information was collected about their most recent incident for each of the selected types of violence. Details on the perpetrator type and timeframe for when the most recent incident occurred were collected for each of the eight types of violence:
  1. Sexual assault by a male perpetrator
  2. Sexual assault by a female perpetrator
  3. Sexual threat by a male perpetrator
  4. Sexual threat by a female perpetrator
  5. Physical assault by a male perpetrator
  6. Physical assault by a female perpetrator
  7. Physical threat by a male perpetrator
  8. Physical threat by a female perpetrator

If the most recent incident occurred more than 10 years ago, detailed information was not collected due to difficulties associated with recalling the incident.

In addition, detailed questions about the most recent incident of sexual threat by a male perpetrator were not asked of male respondents, nor were questions about the most recent incident of sexual threat by a female perpetrator asked for both male and female respondents. Reliable estimates about the characteristics of the most recent incident are unable to be produced for these types of violence due to their lower incidence and resultant data quality issues and therefore the data was not collected in order to reduce respondent burden.

The questions asked about the most recent incident varied between the different types of violence. For example, respondents were asked a reduced set of questions about the most recent incident of threat (e.g. they are not asked whether the incident was reported to police, whether they were physically injured, or whether they took time off work after the incident). There are also certain questions that respondents who reported experiencing violence by a current and/or previous partner are not asked, as they asked similar questions in the Partner Violence module.

The same incident cannot be reported in more than one of the eight types of violence in the MRI module. Instances in which a respondent experienced multiple types of violence within the one incident can only be reported once. For example, if a respondent who has been sexually assaulted has also experienced some of the behaviours which are classified as physical assault during the same incident (for example being slapped), information about the incident is only recorded as an incident of sexual assault, and not physical assault.

Further information regarding the collection of the following data items:
  • Police contact – if a respondent did not contact the police, but the police ‘happened to attend’, this was recorded as someone else contacting the police. If the incident occurred in a public place such as a shopping centre, and security was contacted, this was recorded as the police not being contacted. However, if security subsequently contacted the police then it was recorded as someone else contacting the police. The word ‘contacted’ was open to the respondent’s interpretation, and may include both contact that did and did not amount to a formal report.
    It is also worth noting here that data users should not cross tabulate or cross compare between the Violence MRI and Partner Violence police contact items when trying to analyse police reporting. It is best that both of these are analysed separately due to instances of multiple types of violence reported in MRI that may not be the same most recent ex-partner as was reported in the Partner Violence questions.
  • Involvement of alcohol or any other substance – this includes any licit or illicit mood-altering substance. Includes where the respondent or the perpetrator had been drinking alcohol or using any other mood / behaviour-altering substance, or were hung-over from alcohol or still recovering from the use of any other substance.
  • Consulting doctor or other health provider about physical injuries related to the MRI – this includes doctors in private practice, health centres, hospitals, emergency services, etc. Includes only health practitioners who were visited for the treatment of injuries, and excludes visits to the doctor or any other health professional that were not for the purpose of treating injuries (e.g. counselling session).
  • Seeking advice or support – includes any advice or support the respondent received for the incident, either at the time of the incident or at any time after. Includes contacting or visiting any source of help, from a friend to a professional organisation, seeking advice or support. Excludes anyone who was told or found out about the incident, but from whom the respondent did not actively seek advice or support, and help sought for injuries which did not involve the respondent seeking advice or support. Advice or support means listening to the respondent, being understanding, making suggestions, giving information, referring the respondent to appropriate services, or offering further help of any kind.
  • First person told – includes someone the respondent sought advice or support from, or could include people that they perceive they ‘told’ without necessarily seeking advice or support from them e.g. if they told the police about the violence without seeking advice or support from them. Includes contacting or telling anyone from a friend to a professional organisation, and cases where the respondent let the information ‘slip’. Telling someone differs from seeking advice or support in that the respondent did not necessarily have to seek advice or support from the person told.
  • Time off work – this includes time taken off work to appear in court, or meet with police, lawyers, a counsellor etc., and time taken off unpaid work, such as work in a family business or voluntary work, and changing hours of work, duties performed or taking leave.
  • Anxiety or fear – includes constant worry, feeling nervous or jumpy, feeling scared or afraid, unable to calm down, feeling scared/on edge, being panicked or distressed, not being able to eat or sleep, and worry or anxiety resulting from the incident, even if the respondent does not consider it to be fear. If the anxiety or fear varied over time, respondents are asked to determine how they felt overall during the last 12 months.
  • Timeframe data – data users that wish to produce prevalence and timeframe estimates of violence type should only use prevalence data and not MRI data. This is due to the possibility of respondents mis-reporting the timeframe data in the MRI item and hence it may not be reflective of actual MRI incidents.

DATA ITEMS

The data items and related output categories for this topic are contained within the Violence Most Recent Incident tab in the data item list which is available in Excel spreadsheet format from the Downloads tab of this product.

DATA USES

Violence MRI data can be used to examine:
  • The characteristics and nature of violent incidents, including information about the perpetrator, the violent behaviours involved, the location, whether alcohol or any other substance was involved, and whether physical injuries were sustained.
  • The actions taken in response to violent incidents, including whether the incident was reported to police and whether advice or support was sought after the incident.
  • The longer-term impacts of violent incidents, including whether anxiety or fear was experienced following the incident, whether time was taken off work, and whether changes were made to usual routine as a result of the incident.
  • Differences between men and women in the ways in which different types of violence are experienced.

Violence MRI data cannot be used to examine:
  • Information about all incidents of violence ever experienced, as only information about the most recent incident that occurred in the last 10 years is collected for each type of violence.
  • The number of violent incidents experienced.
  • The prevalence of particular types of violence in the population – the Violence Prevalence module has been designed to do this.
  • Differences between perpetrator types e.g. experiences of physical assault by a male previous partner compared to experiences of physical assault by a female previous partner.

INTERPRETATION

Points to be considered in interpreting this topic:
  • Although detailed information about the most recent incident is collected for most of the eight types of violence, not all of this data is able to support general use due to higher levels of error associated with lower prevalence types of violence (e.g. sexual assault by a female perpetrator). Care should be used when using data for low prevalence violence and consideration of Relative Standard Errors (RSE) should be made. For more information refer to the Data Quality and Technical Notes page of this User Guide.
  • As information about the most recent incident of violence is collected separately for each of the eight types of violence experienced, a single respondent may be counted multiple times in this module, depending on their experiences. However, they can only be counted once for each type of violence experienced.
  • Violence MRI data cannot be added across the different types of violence to produce an aggregated total for any of the data items. Persons may have experienced more than one type of violence and are included separately for each type they have experienced. As a person's experiences and subsequent actions may differ depending on the type of violence they experienced, conceptually it would be invalid to add together actions for all of the different types of violence. For example, if a respondent had sought advice or support about their most recent incident of physical assault by a male but had not sought advice or support about their most recent incident of sexual assault by a male, they would be included in both categories if the data was simply combined. Consequently, violence MRI data should only be understood within the context of one of the specific types of violence, and not in terms of violence overall.
  • Violence MRI data is a subset of violence prevalence data, and should not be used to estimate the prevalence of particular types of violence in the population, which the Violence Prevalence module has been designed to do. This is because information is not collected about all incidents of each of the eight types of violence – only the most recent one. For example, a respondent may have experienced physical assault by a male stranger, and physical assault by a male previous partner. These are two incidents of the same type of violence – physical assault by a male. Information will be collected about only the more recent of the two incidents in the violence MRI module.
  • Violence MRI data relates to the most recent incident of violence experienced only, and is therefore not necessarily representative of all incidents of violence. Care should be taken in the way most recent incident data is interpreted and reported, and users should refrain from generalising the findings to all incidents. The estimates always represent the number and proportion of persons, rather than incidents (e.g. 70% of persons contacted the police about the most recent incident, rather than police being contacted about 70% of all incidents).

COMPARABILITY WITH PREVIOUS SURVEYS

Information about experiences of violence was collected in the 2005 and 2012 editions of the PSS, as well as the 1996 Women’s Safety Survey (WSS). The following should be noted when making comparisons:
  • Detailed information about the most recent incident was not collected in the 2016 PSS if the most recent incident occurred more than 10 years ago. This differs from the 1996 WSS and 2005 and 2012 PSS where detailed information was collected for incidents that occurred up to 20 years ago. This change was due to reported difficulties in the 2012 PSS associated with recalling details on an incident that occurred more than 10 years ago and to reduce respondent burden.
  • In contrast to the 1996 WSS, 2005 and 2012 PSS, the 2016 PSS did not collect information about the most recent incident of sexual threat by a female for both male and female respondents and the most recent incident of sexual threat by a male for male respondents due to these being lower prevalence types of violence and therefore related to higher levels of error when analysing detailed data.

COMPARISONS WITH OTHER CYCLES

1996 Women's Safety Survey2005 Personal Safety Survey2012 Personal Safety Survey2016 Personal Safety Survey

Population


Timeframe
Women aged 18 years and older


Experiences of violence since the age of 15 that occurred in the last 20 years
Men and women aged 18 years and older

Experiences of violence since the age of 15 that occurred in the last 20 years
Men and women aged 18 years and older

Experiences of violence since the age of 15 that occurred in the last 20 years
Men and women aged 18 years and older


Experiences of violence since the age of 15 that occurred in the last 10 years
Perpetrator sex Male
Male and femaleMale and femaleMale and female
Types of violence
  • Physical assault by a male
  • Physical assault by a female
  • Sexual assault by a male
  • Sexual assault by a female
  • Physical threat by a male
  • Physical threat by a female
  • Sexual threat by a male
  • Sexual threat by a female
  • Physical assault by a male
  • Physical assault by a female
  • Sexual assault by a male
  • Sexual assault by a female
  • Physical threat by a male
  • Physical threat by a female
  • Sexual threat by a male
  • Sexual threat by a female
  • Physical assault by a male
  • Physical assault by a female
  • Sexual assault by a male
  • Sexual assault by a female
  • Physical threat by a male
  • Physical threat by a female
  • Sexual threat by a male
  • Sexual threat by a female
  • Physical assault by a male
  • Physical assault by a female
  • Sexual assault by a male
  • Sexual assault by a female
  • Physical threat by a male
  • Physical threat by a female
  • Sexual threat by a male (women only)
  • Comparability1996 data is considered generally comparable with 2005, 2012 and 2016 data.2005 data is considered generally comparable with 1996, 2012 and 2016 data.2012 data is considered generally comparable with 1996, 2005, and 2016 data.2016 data is considered generally comparable with 1996, 2005, and 2012 data.