4906.0 - Personal Safety, Australia, 2016  
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EXPERIENCE OF SEXUAL HARASSMENT

The 2016 Personal Safety Survey (PSS) collected information about men’s and women’s experiences of selected types of sexual harassment by male and female perpetrators, for both lifetime experiences and the 12 months prior to the survey.

Sexual harassment was considered to have occurred when a person experienced or had been subjected to one or more selected behaviours which they found improper or unwanted, which made them feel uncomfortable, and/or were offensive due to their sexual nature. The sexual harassment behaviours included in the PSS were:
  • receiving indecent phone calls
  • receiving indecent texts, emails or post
  • indecent exposure
  • inappropriate comments about the person’s body or sex life
  • unwanted touching, grabbing, kissing or fondling
  • distributing or posting pictures or videos of the person, that were sexual in nature, without their consent
  • exposing the person to pictures, videos or materials which were sexual in nature that the persons did not wish to see.

For more information, including definitions of the sexual harassment behaviours, refer to the Sexual Harassment page of the Personal Safety Survey, Australia: User Guide, 2016 (cat. no. 4906.0.55.003).


LIFETIME EXPERIENCE OF SELECTED TYPES OF SEXUAL HARASSMENT

Overall, women aged 18 years and over were more likely to experience sexual harassment in their lifetime than men:
  • approximately one in two women (53% or 5 million) had experienced sexual harassment by a male or female perpetrator during their lifetime
  • an estimated one in four men (25% or 2.2 million) had experienced sexual harassment by any person throughout their lifetime. Refer to Table 32.

Graph Image for PERSONS AGED 18 YEARS AND OVER, Experience of lifetime sexual harassment by sex of perpetrator

Footnote(s): (a) People may have experienced sexual harassment by a male and a female. Components therefore may not add to the total.

Source(s): Personal Safety Survey, 2016



Sex of perpetrator

Women were more likely to experience sexual harassment by a male perpetrator than by a female perpetrator. It is estimated that around one in two women (52% or 4.9 million) had experienced sexual harassment by a male perpetrator and approximately one in ten (11% or 989,900) women had experienced sexual harassment by a female perpetrator during their lifetime.

Men were as likely to be sexually harassed by a male perpetrator as by female perpetrator (16% or 1.5 million and 16% or 1.4 million, respectively).

Selected Types of Sexual Harassment Endnote 1

The most common forms of sexual harassment experienced were the same for both men and women.

Women’s experience of selected types of sexual harassment

Of the estimated 4.9 million women who experienced sexual harassment by a male perpetrator, the most commonly reported forms of sexual harassment were:
  • inappropriate comments about body or sex life (61% or 3 million)
  • unwanted touching grabbing, kissing or fondling (57% or 2.8 million)
  • indecent exposure (42% or 2.1 million).

Of the 989,900 women who experienced sexual harassment by a female perpetrator, the most commonly reported forms of sexual harassment were:
  • inappropriate comments about body or sex life (61% or 604,600)
  • unwanted touching, grabbing, kissing or fondling (24% or 238,800)
  • indecent text, email or post (20% or 200,200).

Graph Image for WOMEN AGED 18 YEARS AND OVER WHO EXPERIENCED SEXUAL HARASSMENT(a),Types of sexual harassment(b) by sex of perpetrator

Footnote(s): (a) People may have experienced more than one sexual harassment behaviour and/or experienced sexual harassment by a male and a female. Therefore components may sum to more than 100% and cannot be summed to produce totals. (b) Not all types of sexual harassment shown.

Source(s): Personal Safety Survey, 2016



Men’s experience of selected types of sexual harassment

An estimated 1.5 million men experienced sexual harassment by a male perpetrator in their lifetime. Of these men, the most commonly reported forms of sexual harassment were:
  • unwanted touching, grabbing, kissing or fondling (42% or 610,700)
  • inappropriate comments about body or sex life (41% or 603,600)
  • indecent exposure (26% or 377,900).

Approximately 1.4 million men experienced sexual harassment by a female perpetrator in their lifetime. Of these men, the most commonly reported forms of sexual harassment were:
  • unwanted touching, grabbing, kissing or fondling (50% or 714,200)
  • inappropriate comments about body or sex life (44% or 623,200)
  • indecent text, email or post (32% or 459,900).

Graph Image for MEN AGED 18 YEARS AND OVER WHO EXPERIENCED SEXUAL HARASSMENT(a), Types of sexual harassment(b) by sex of perpetrator

Footnote(s): (a) People may have experienced more than one sexual harassment behaviour and/or experienced sexual harassment by a male and a female. Therefore components may sum to more than 100% and cannot be summed to produce totals. (b) Not all types of sexual harassment shown.

Source(s): Personal Safety Survey, 2016



EXPERIENCE OF SELECTED TYPES OF SEXUAL HARASSMENT IN THE LAST 12 MONTHS

Women were more likely than men to have experienced sexual harassment in the 12 months prior to the survey. An estimated 17% of women (1.6 million) and 9.3% of men (836,700) aged 18 years and over had experienced one or more of the selected types of sexual harassment behaviours by any person in the 12 months prior to the survey. Refer to Table 32.

Graph Image for PERSONS AGED 18 YEARS AND OVER, Sexual harassment in the last 12 months(a) by sex, 2016

Footnote(s): (a) Experiences by a male and/or female perpetrator.

Source(s): Personal Safety Survey, 2016



Demographic characteristics of people who experienced sexual harassment in the last 12 months

In addition to collecting information for men and women about their experience of sexual harassment in the 12 months prior to the survey, the 2016 PSS also collected a range of information about their demographics. This included age, language, education, country of birth, disability status and state or territory of usual residence. Refer to Table 33.

The following selection of these characteristics are analysed here:
  • state or territory of usual residence
  • broad age groups
  • disability status.

Experience of sexual harassment in the last 12 months - current state or territory of usual residence

The PSS collects information about a person’s state or territory of usual residence. Note that this is not necessarily the state or territory in which the sexual harassment took place.

The Northern Territory, Victoria and South Australia were the only jurisdictions where the proportion of women who experienced sexual harassment in the 12 months prior to the survey differed from the national estimate (17% or 1.6 million):
  • in the Northern Territory, 22% of women (15,200) experienced sexual harassment
  • in Victoria, 20% of women (488,800) experienced sexual harassment
  • for South Australia, 15% of women (99,100) experienced sexual harassment.

Although the PSS was not designed to produce sexual harassment prevalence data at the state and territory level for men, some data was able to be produced for the larger states (for more information on sample design refer to the Methodology page of the Personal Safety Survey, Australia: User Guide, 2016 (cat. no. 4906.0.55.003)).

There was no significant difference in the prevalence of sexual harassment for men in South Australia (13%), Victoria (9.6%), Queensland (9.0%), or New South Wales (8.8%), when compared to the national estimate (9.3%).

Experience of sexual harassment in the last 12 months - broad age groups

For both men and women, younger age groups were more likely than older persons to experience sexual harassment in the 12 months prior to the survey. Refer to Table 33.

Compared to the national estimate for women (17% or 1.6 million):
  • Women aged 18-34 years were more likely to have experienced sexual harassment. An estimated 38% of women aged 18-24 years (421,400) and 25% of women aged 25-34 years (446,600) had experienced sexual harassment in the 12 months prior to the survey.
  • Women aged 45 years and over were less likely to have experienced sexual harassment. An estimated 15% of women aged 45-54 years (234,500), 10% of women aged 55-64 years (147,000) and 5% of women aged 65 years and over (86,200) had experienced sexual harassment in the 12 months prior to the survey.

Compared to the national estimate for men (9.3% or 836,700):
  • Men aged 18-34 years were more likely to have experienced sexual harassment. An estimated 16% of men aged 18-24 years (185,200) and 13% of men aged 25-34 years (226,700) had experienced sexual harassment in the 12 months prior to the survey.
  • Men aged 65 years and over were less likely to have experienced sexual harassment. An estimated 4% of men aged 65 years and over (62,100) experienced sexual harassment in the 12 months prior to the survey.

Graph Image for PERSONS AGED 18 YEARS AND OVER, Sexual harassment(a) in the last 12 months by broad age groups(b) and sex, 2016

Footnote(s): (a) Experiences by a male and/or female perpetrator. (b) Refers to age at the time of survey.

Source(s): Personal Safety Survey, 2016



Experience of sexual harassment in the last 12 months - disability status

The 2016 PSS collected information to determine whether or not someone had a disability or long-term health condition at the time of the survey. For more information about how disability was defined and potential under-representation of persons with a disability in the sample, refer to the Disability page of the Personal Safety Survey, Australia: User Guide, 2016 (cat. no. 4906.0.55.003).

Women with a disability or long-term health condition were more likely to experience sexual harassment in the 12 months prior to the survey than women without a disability or long-term health condition (19% or 561,300 compared to 17% or 1.1 million).

Men with a disability or long-term health condition were statistically just as likely to experience sexual harassment in the 12 months prior to the survey as men without a disability or long-term health condition (10% or 293,600 and 8.7% or 543,600 respectively).


PREVALENCE OF SEXUAL HARASSMENT SINCE 2012

Between 2012 and 2016 there was a significant increase in the proportion of both men and women who experienced sexual harassment in the 12 months prior to the survey.
The proportion of women who experienced sexual harassment in the last 12 months, increased from 15% in 2012 to 17% in 2016. During the same time period, the proportion of men who experienced sexual harassment increased from 6.6% to 9.3%.

Graph Image for PERSONS AGED 18 YEARS AND OVER, Experience of sexual harassment in the last 12 months(a) by sex, 2012 and 2016(b)

Footnote(s): (a) Experiences by a male and/or female perpetrator. (b) In order to accurately capture the emerging trends in experiences of sexual harassment (such as the use of information and communications technology), new sexual harassment behaviours have been specifically included in the 2016 PSS. Although these behaviours may have previously been collected as part of other categories, this should be considered when comparing sexual harassment prevalence rates between the 2012 and 2016 iterations of the survey. Refer to the Sexual Harassment chapter of the Personal Safety Survey, Australia: User Guide, 2016 (cat. no. 4906.0.55.003).

Source(s): Personal Safety Survey, 2016



ENDNOTES

Endnote 1

More than one response may have been given so proportions may sum to more than 100%.