4906.0.55.003 - Personal Safety Survey, Australia: User Guide, 2012  
Previous ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 13/05/2014   
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Contents >> Survey Content >> Information Collected

INFORMATION COLLECTED

The 2012 Personal Safety Survey ( PSS) collected information from men and women aged 18 years and over about the nature and extent of violence experienced since the age of 15. It also collected detailed information about men's and women's experience of current and previous partner violence, lifetime experience of stalking, physical and sexual abuse before the age of 15, sexual harassment and general feelings of safety
The content of the 2012 PSS was determined through consultation with key users, who were represented by a Survey Advisory Group. One of the key requirements was for the PSS 2012 to provide data that was comparable to the 2005 PSS and 1996 Women's Safety Survey (WSS). Therefore the information collected was, where ever possible, the same as that collected in the 2005 PSS and 1996 WSS, allowing for adaptations to be made in order to meet new and emerging issues.

Interview questions and response categories were refined through field tests to ensure they could be clearly understood by respondents and that they would produce statistically valid and comparable results.

Many data items available from the survey are derived from responses to a number of survey questions. Information about the content of the survey can be obtained by referring to the Data Items list available in the Downloads Tab. The definitions used in the survey, as set out in the Glossary, are based on both the questionnaire and interviewer instructions. The survey questionnaire is also available in the Downloads Tab. Further information within this user guide also discuss Survey Definitions and Interpretation of Results.

A summary of the information collected for each of the key topics is provided below.


PREVALENCE OF VIOLENCE

A key objective of the PSS was to collect information about the prevalence of men's and women's experience of violence since the age of 15. As a person may have experienced more than one type of violence, the PSS is designed to provide measures of the prevalence of violence since the age of 15 by four types of violence (physical assault/physical threat/sexual assault/sexual threat) by the sex of perpetrator (male/female) by five key perpetrator types (current partner, previous partner, boyfriend/girlfriend or date, other known man or woman, and stranger). This provides information on the prevalence of the 40 (ie 4 x 2 x 5) different types of violence a person may have experienced. Persons who have experienced more than one type of violence are counted for each type they have experienced.

The time frame of the most recent incident of each of these 40 types of violence is collected to enable further analysis to be undertaken - for example limiting the data to incidents which occurred during the last 12 months to allow for analysis of changes over time.

For further information refer to the following worksheets in the Data Items list - 2 Violence-Prevalence and 3 Violence-Prevalence Since 15 (available in the DownloadsTab).


MOST RECENT INCIDENT CHARACTERISTICS

People who had experienced violence since the age of 15 were asked to provide more detailed information about their most recent incident for each type of violence (physical assault/physical threat/sexual assault/sexual threat) by a male and by a female perpetrator. This provides information for each of the eight different types of violence a person could experience including:
    Sexual assault by a male;
    Sexual assault by a female;
    Sexual threat by a male;
    Sexual threat by a female;
    Physical assault by a male;
    Physical assault by a female;
    Physical threat by a male; and
    Physical threat by a female.

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 each incident of violence a person had experienced. Instead, detailed information was collected about their most recent incident for each of the eight different types of violence. If the most recent incident occurred more than 20 years ago, detailed information was not collected due to difficulties associated with recalling the incident.

The information collected about a person's most recent incident of violence includes:
    When incident occurred
    Relationship to perpetrator
    Location of incident
    Physical assault behaviours experienced
    Physical threat behaviours experienced
    Whether alcohol or drugs contributed to incident
    How respondent perceived alcohol or drugs contributed to incident
    Whether incident perceived as a crime at the time
    Whether perception of incident not being a crime has changed over time
    Main reason for change in perception of incident not being a crime
    Whether police contacted
    Whether perpetrator was charged by police
    Whether perpetrator went to court as a result of charge
    All reasons police not contacted
    Main reason police not contacted
    Whether physically injured
    Type of physical injury
    Whether consulted doctor about physical injuries
    Changes to usual routine in the 12 months after the incident due to physical injuries
    Whether sought advice or support after incident
    Sources of advice or support sought
    First person or service told
    Whether took time off work in the 12 months after incident
    Amount of time taken off work in the 12 months after incident
    Whether experienced anxiety or fear in the 12 months after incident
    Whether experienced anxiety or fear in the 12 months after incident (non Partner violence)
    Whether experienced anxiety or fear in the last 12 months (non Partner violence)
    How often anxiety or fear experienced in the last 12 months (non Partner violence)
    Changes to usual routine in the 12 months after the incident due to anxiety or fear (non Partner violence)
Some items, such as whether physically injured, are not applicable to threats of violence and were therefore only collected for incidents of assault. A comprehensive list of the most recent incident data items and their response categories are available from the Downloads Tab. For further information refer to the following worksheet in the Data Items list - 4 Violence-MRI.


PARTNER VIOLENCE

People who had experienced violence since the age of 15 by a current partner and/or by a previous partner were asked further questions about what happened during the relationship. This information was collected separately for current partner violence and previous partner violence: if someone had experienced violence by more than one previous partner, the information was collected about their most recently violent previous partner only.

The information collected about a person's experience of current and previous partner violence includes:
    Sex of partner
    Whether ever experienced violence by partner more than once
    Whether experienced violence by partner in the last 12 months
    Whether experienced violence by partner once or more than once in the last 12 months
    How often partner violence experienced during relationship
    Total length of relationship
    Length of relationship before first incident of violence
    Whether violence occurred for the first time while living with previous partner
    Whether violence occurred during pregnancy
    Whether violence occurred for the first time during pregnancy
    Whether violence ever seen or heard by children
    Whether violence seen or heard by children in the last 12 months
    Whether ever temporarily separated from partner
    Number of times temporarily separated from partner
    Main reason for last temporary separation from current partner
    Whether violence ever occurred during periods of temporary separation
    Whether violence occurred for the first time while temporarily separated
    Whether violence increased while temporarily separated
    Reasons for returning to partner
    Whether ever wanted to leave current partner
    Main reason for wanting to leave current partner
    Main reason unable to leave current partner
    Main reason relationship with previous partner ended
    Whether violence by previous partner increased after relationship finally ended
    Whether ever moved away from home during any temporary separation/s
    Whether ever had to leave property or assets behind during temporary separations
    Whether ever had to leave property or assets behind when relationship ended
    All places stayed during temporary separations
    Whether moved away from home when relationship with previous partner finally ended
    All places stayed when relationship with previous partner finally ended
    Whether ever experienced anxiety or fear due to previous partner violence
    How often anxiety or fear experienced due to previous partner violence
    Whether experienced anxiety or fear in the last 12 months due to partner violence
    How often anxiety or fear experienced in the last 12 months due to partner violence
    Changes to usual routine in the last 12 months due to experiencing anxiety or fear
    Whether police ever contacted about violence by partner
    Whether partner was ever charged by police
    Whether partner ever went to court
    Whether a restraining order was ever issued against partner
    Whether further incidents of violence occurred after restraining order issued
    Whether ever sought advice or support about violence by partner
    Sources of advice or support ever sought about violence by partner
    First person or service told about violence by partner
A comprehensive list of the Partner violence data items and their response categories are available from the Downloads Tab. For further information refer to the following worksheet in the Data Items list - 5 Violence-Partner.


EMOTIONAL ABUSE BY A PARTNER

The 2012 PSS collected information about whether a person had experienced emotional abuse since the age of 15 by a current partner and by a male and/or female previous partner.

Where a person had experienced emotional abuse by more than one male previous partner, the information relates to the male previous partner who had most recently emotionally abused them. Similarly, where a person had experienced emotional abuse by more than one female previous partner the information relates to the female previous partner who had most recently emotionally abused them.

The questions sought to determine if a person had experienced any emotionally abusive behaviours based on a list provided in a series of prompt cards. This was based on the respondents perception as to whether or not they had experienced these behaviours with the intent to cause them emotional harm or fear. Time constraints did not allow for the inclusion of a detailed definition of each type of behaviour on the prompt cards or in the questionnaire but definitions were provided in the interviewer's instructions to assist respondents who had difficulty interpreting the questions.

The information collected about emotional abuse by a partner includes:
    When emotional abuse last occurred
    Types of behaviours experienced
    How often emotional abuse experienced
    Whether ever experienced anxiety or fear due to emotional abuse
    Whether experienced anxiety or fear in the last 12 months due to emotional abuse
    How often anxiety and/or fear experienced in the last 12 months due to emotional abuse
    Whether experienced emotional abuse by more than one previous partner
A comprehensive list of Emotional abuse data items and their response categories are available from the Downloads Tab. For further information refer to the following worksheet in the Data Items list - 6 Emotional Abuse.


ABUSE BEFORE AGE 15

All respondents were asked if they had experienced physical or sexual abuse before the age of 15.

Only limited information was collected about physical and sexual abuse before the age of 15 including:
    Whether experienced abuse more than once
    Age abuse first occurred
    Relationship to perpetrator/s of first incident of abuse

The purpose of including questions about people’s experience of physical and sexual abuse when a child was not to measure the extent of child abuse (in order to do this a separate survey would be required), but to provide background information about people’s experiences and to allow for investigation of the relationship between abuse before the age of 15 and experiences of violence since the age of 15.

Care should be taken when using these items as they were not collected using detailed questioning. The experience of physical abuse as a child is particularly difficult to measure, given changes in what is generally perceived as acceptable behaviour toward children, particularly in relation to discipline. In order to minimise the level of interpretation by respondents, a definition of physical abuse was included in the survey question. However, the response given by people would reflect their interpretation of the question and what constitutes physical abuse.

A comprehensive list of Abuse before age 15 data items and their response categories are available from the Downloads Tab. For further information refer to the following worksheet in the Data Items list -7 Abuse.


STALKING

All respondents were asked whether they had been stalked by a man and whether they had been stalked by a woman. Where someone had experienced stalking during their lifetime, information was collected about a person's most recent incident of stalking by a man and by a woman.

The information collected about a person's most recent incident of stalking includes:
    When stalking started
    Types of stalking behaviours experienced in most recent episode
    Relationship to stalker
    Whether stalking has stopped
    Duration of stalking episode
    Whether experienced stalking in the last 12 months
    Whether episode of stalking perceived as a crime at the time
    Whether police contacted about stalking episode
    Whether stalker charged by police
    Whether stalker went to court as a result of charge
    All reasons police not contacted
    Main reason police not contacted
    Whether took time off work in the 12 months after stalking started
    Amount of time off work in the 12 months after stalking started
    Whether experienced anxiety or fear in the 12 months after stalking started
    Whether experienced anxiety or fear in the last 12 months due to stalking episode
    How often anxiety or fear experienced in the last 12 months due to stalking episode
    Changes to usual routine in the 12 months after stalking started due to anxiety or fear

A comprehensive list of stalking data items and their response categories are available from the Downloads Tab. For further information refer to the following worksheet in the Data Items list - 9 Stalking.


GENERAL FEELINGS OF SAFETY

All respondents were asked about their general feelings of safety in the last 12 months in selected situations.

The information collected about general feelings of safety includes:
    Feelings of safety using public transport alone at night in the last 12 months
    Feelings of safety waiting for public transport alone at night in the last 12 months
    Feelings of safety walking in the local area alone at night in the last 12 months
    Feelings of safety when at home alone at night in the last 12 months
A comprehensive list of general feelings of safety data items response categories are available from the Downloads Tab. For further information refer to the following worksheet in the Data Items list - 1 Person under Section 1.16 GENERAL SAFETY.


SEXUAL HARASSMENT

All respondents were asked whether they had experienced selected types of behaviours, classified as sexual harassment during their lifetime. Sexual harassment is considered to have occurred when a person has experienced or been subjected to behaviours which made them feel uncomfortable, and were offensive due to their sexual nature.

Sexual harassment includes the following behaviours:
    Indecent phone calls
    Indecent text, email or post
    Indecent exposure
    Inappropriate comments
    Unwanted touching, grabbing, kissing or fondling.
For each type of sexual harassment that had been experienced, respondents were asked whether this occurred during the last 12 months.
    A comprehensive list of sexual harassment data items response categories are available from the Downloads Tab. For further information refer to the following worksheet in the Data Items list - 8 Harassment.


    SOCIO-DEMOGRAPHIC INFORMATION

    A comprehensive suite of socio-demographic information was collected about the respondent and, where applicable, their partner. Information relating to the socio-demographic characteristics of a person's partner was collected directly from the respondent (not from the partner) and in some instances the respondent did not know or was unable to provide information about their partner.
    Socio-demographic information collected includes:

    Geography
      State or Territory of usual residence
      Capital city or balance of State
      ARIA 2006 Remoteness Areas
      Index of Advantage/Disadvantage
      Decile of Index of Advantage/Disadvantage
    Demographics of Respondent
      Age
      Sex
      Country of birth
      Year of arrival
      First language spoken as a child
      Main language spoken at home
      Registered marital status
      Social Marital Status (married or de facto)
      Family type
      Household type
      Family composition of household
      Whether has a current partner
      Whether has a male current partner
      Whether has a female current partner
    Demographics of Partner
      Age of partner
      Sex of partner
      Country of birth of partner
      Year of arrival of partner
      First language spoken by partner as a child
      Main language spoken by partner at home
    Education of Respondent
      Highest year of school completed
      Level of highest non-school qualification
      Main field of highest non-school qualification
      Level of highest educational attainment
    Education of Partner
      Highest year of school completed of partner
      Level of highest non-school qualification of partner
      Main field of highest non-school qualification of partner
      Level of highest educational attainment of partner
    Employment of Respondent
      Full-time or part-time status and labour force status
      Hours usually worked each week in all jobs
      Duration of unemployment
      Time since last worked for 2 weeks or more
    Employment of Partner
      Full-time or part-time status and labour force status of partner
      Hours usually worked each week in all jobs of partner
      Duration of unemployment of partner
      Time since partner last worked for 2 weeks or more
    Income of Respondent
      Cash income (weekly)
      Decile of cash income (weekly)
    Income of Partner
      Cash income of partner (weekly)
      Decile of cash income of partner (weekly)
    Income of couple
      Cash income of couples (weekly)
      Decile of cash income of couples (weekly)
    Household income
      Cash income of household (weekly)
      Decile of cash income of household (weekly)
      Main source of household income
      In addition to the socio-demographic characteristics of the respondent and partner, other information was also collected about the respondent. These items were included in the survey to allow for investigation of the relationship between life measures and a person's experience of violence since the age of 15, or a person's experience of partner violence.

      Other information collected included:

      Financial Stress of Household
        Ability to raise emergency money
        Household cash flow problems in the last 12 months
      Social Connectedness
        Participation in social activities in the last 3 months
        Ability to ask for small favours from someone outside the household
        Ability to get support in a time of crisis from outside the household
        Source of support from outside the household in a time of crisis
      Health of Respondent (self perceived)
        Self assessed health status
        Overall life satisfaction
      Disability status of Respondent
        Whether has disability or long term health condition
        Disability type
        Disability status
        A comprehensive list of socio-demographic data items and their response categories are available from the Downloads Tab. For further information refer to the following worksheet in the Data Items list - 1 Person.

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