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3416.0 - Perspectives on Migrants, 2007  
Previous ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 25/02/2008  First Issue
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MIGRANTS' EXPERIENCES OF CRIME VICTIMISATION

On this page:
INTRODUCTION
ARE MIGRANTS FROM CERTAIN REGIONS OF BIRTH MORE LIKELY TO BE SUBJECT TO VICTIMISATION?
ARE LANGUAGE SKILLS A FACTOR IN VICTIMISATION?
DOES A MIGRANT'S SEX OR AGE CONTRIBUTE TO VICTIMISATION?
SUMMARY
LIST OF REFERENCES


INTRODUCTION

Previous research has produced conflicting findings on the extent to which migrants and ethnic groups experience crime. Johnson's (2005) research based on the 2004 International Crime Victimisation Survey showed that a sample of migrants who were born or whose parents were born in Vietnam or the Middle East experienced lower rates of personal crime (assault/threat, robbery, personal theft) than a community sample. Statistics Canada found that the rate of personal victimisation for migrants was substantially lower than the overall Canadian rate of personal victimisation (Brzozowski and Mihorean 2002). However, the 2004/05 British Crime Survey (Jansson 2006) found that there were no differences in the overall risk of victimisation between ethnic groups, with the exception of people from a mixed ethnic group, who were at a higher risk of victimisation than 'white' people (based on the United Kingdom's 2001 Census classifications). Differences in the rates of victimisation between ethnic groups may be related to variations in factors such as income, age, social class or area of residence (Clancy et al. 2001).

This article uses data from the 2006 ABS General Social Survey (GSS) to compare the reported victimisation of migrants to other members of the community. First conducted in 2002, the GSS is a sample survey of people aged 18 years or over that is repeated every four years in urban and rural areas (ABS 2007). The survey includes questions on such issues as health, housing, education, work, financial stress, transport, and crime victimisation. The GSS also contains questions about English proficiency.

The GSS sought responses of migrants and other members of the community to questions regarding whether anyone had used or threatened to use physical force or violence against them in the 12 months before the survey. It also sought responses to questions concerning whether anyone had broke into or attempted to break into a home, garage or shed in a place in which the respondent had lived in the 12 months before the survey.

This article defines migrants as people born overseas, and thus its findings are limited to first-generation migrants. The GSS does not provide data on the perceived motivation of offences experienced by respondents, which means it was not possible to examine the prevalence or incidence of racially-based hate crimes against ethnic groups. This article considers:

  • whether migrants overall are at greater risk of violence or a break-in than people born in Australia, and whether migrants from certain regions of birth are more likely to be a victim of crime
  • whether migrants' language skills are a factor in victimisation
  • whether the sex or age of migrants is related to risk of victimisation.

It should be noted that statistics presented in this paper are estimates based on a sample of persons and not the full population. As such, these estimates are subject to sampling error. For the migrant population in particular, the sample size is small and therefore can be subject to large sampling error. Further information on sampling error and comparison of estimates may be found on pages 29-35 in the ABS General Social Survey: User Guide, 2006 (cat. no. 4159.0.55.002).


ARE MIGRANTS FROM CERTAIN REGIONS OF BIRTH MORE LIKELY TO BE SUBJECT TO VICTIMISATION?

Data from the 2006 GSS showed that the rate of physical or threatened violence experienced by migrants was 6,922 people per 100,000 of the migrant population aged 18 years or over, compared to 12,292 people per 100,000 for Australian-born. In relation to break-in data, the rate of victimisation for people born overseas was 7,480 people per 100,000, compared to 10,089 per 100,000 for those born in Australia.

As the graph below illustrates, the rate of violence experienced by people from non-main English-speaking (MES) countries was 5,710 people per 100,000, less than half the rate (12,292 people per 100,000) for Australian-born. In comparison, the rate of violence for MES countries was 8,985 people per 100,000.

RATE OF VICTIMISATION, by country of birth
Graph: Rate of Victimisation, by country of birth


In relation to break-in data, the rate of victimisation experienced by people from non-MES countries was 7,333 people per 100,000, compared to 10,089 people per 100,000 for people born in Australia. The rate of victimisation experienced by people from MES countries was 7,731 people per 100,000.

Considering region of birth, the rate of violence experienced by migrants born in Southern and Eastern Europe was 3,550 people per 100,000 - less than one third the rate for Australian-born. For people born in South East Asia, the rate of experienced violence was 5,727 per 100,000, less than half the rate for Australian-born.

RATE OF VICTIMISATION, by region of birth
Graph: Rate of Victimisation, by region of birth


Turning to break-ins, the victimisation rate for migrants born in Southern and Eastern Europe was 4,982 people per 100,000, less than half the rate for Australian-born (10,089 people per 100,000). For migrants from North West Europe, the break-in victimisation rate was 6,357 people per 100,000.


ARE LANGUAGE SKILLS A FACTOR IN VICTIMISATION?

Data presented in the GSS showed that for migrants from non-MES countries, the rate of violence experienced by people proficient in English was 5,219 people per 100,000, compared to a rate for people not proficient in English of 5,221 per 100,000. For break-ins, the victimisation rate for people proficient in English was 7,279 people per 100,000, compared to 6,453 per 100,000 for those not proficient in English.

RATE OF VICTIMISATION FOR MIGRANTS, by proficiency in English
Graph: Rate of Victimisation for Migrants, by proficiency in English


DOES A MIGRANT'S SEX OR AGE CONTRIBUTE TO VICTIMISATION?

Sex

The rate of violence experienced by males born in a non-MES country was 5,203 per 100,000, compared to 15,906 per 100,000 for Australian-born males. In contrast, the rate of victimisation for males from MES countries was 11,092 per 100,000. For break-ins, the victimisation rate for males born in a non-MES country was 6,433 people per 100,000, almost two thirds the rate (10,308 per 100,000) for males born in Australia.

RATE OF VICTIMISATION FOR MALES, by country of birth
Graph: Rate of Victimisation for Males, by country of birth


For females, the rate of violence experienced by those born in a MES country was 6,517 per 100,000, compared to 8,872 per 100,000 for Australian-born females. The rate of violence experienced by females born in a non-MES country was 6,209 per 100,000. For break-ins, the rate of victimisation for females born in MES countries was 8,597 per 100,000 compared to 9,882 per 100,000 for females born in Australia. The rate of victimisation for females from non-MES countries was 8,218 per 100,000.

RATE OF VICTIMISATION FOR FEMALES, by country of birth
Graph: Rate of Victimisation for Females, by country of birth


For male migrants born in Europe, the rate of violence was 6,773 per 100,000, less than half the rate (15,906 per 100,000) for males born in Australia. The rate of break-in victimisation for males born in Europe was 4,904 per 100,000, compared to 10,308 per 100,000 for males born in Australia.

RATE OF VICTIMISATION FOR MALES, by region of birth

Graph: Rate of Victimisation for Males, by region of birth



The graph below shows that for female migrants born in Europe, the rate of violence was 5,050 per 100,000, just over half the rate for Australian-born females. In comparison, the rate of violence experienced by female migrants born in Asia was 6,908 per 100,000.

RATE OF VICTIMISATION FOR FEMALES, by region of birth
Graph: Rate of Victimisation for Females, by region of birth


Considering break-ins, the victimisation rate for female migrants born in Asia was 8,476 per 100,000, whereas the rate of victimisation for females born in Europe was 7,014 per 100,000.


Age

The rate of victimisation experienced by migrants in different age groups showed a similar pattern to that experienced by Australian-born people across the age groups. For example, the rate of violence experienced by migrants aged 25-34 years was 10,080 per 100,000, compared to 7,642 for migrants aged 35-44 years, while the rate of violence experienced by Australian-born aged 25-34 years was 14,868, compared to 12,241 for Australian-born aged 35-44 years.

RATE OF VICTIMISATION FOR VIOLENCE, by age
Graph: Rate of Victimisation for Violence, by age

RATE OF VICTIMISATION FOR BREAK-INS, by age

Graph: Rate of Victimisation for Break-Ins, by age



In relation to break-ins, the rate of victimisation for migrants aged 45-54 years was 7,660 per 100,000, compared to 4,762 per 100,000 for migrants aged 55-64 years, and the rate for Australian-born aged 45-54 years was 10,257 per 100,000, compared to 6,662 per 100,000 for Australian-born aged 55-64 years.


SUMMARY

GSS 2006 data suggested migrants experienced lower rates of violence or break-in incidents than people born in Australia. In summary:
  • the rate of violence experienced by migrants was just over half the rate for people born in Australia
  • the rate of violence experienced by migrants from non-MES countries was less than half the rate for Australian-born
  • for migrants born in countries where English was not the main language spoken, the rate of violence experienced by people with poor English skills was no different to the rate experienced by people proficient in English
  • the rate of violence experienced by males born in a non-MES country was about one third the rate of violence experienced by Australian-born males.

Evidence of migrants' experiences of crime in Australia is difficult to collect and to analyse, particularly where specific ethnic groups account for a small proportion of the total population. Collection of such information is complicated by the fact that police jurisdictions do not record victims' countries of birth, and that various crime victimisation surveys use different methodologies and different types of samples (Baur 2006). In addition, individuals from certain ethnic groups may be less willing than others to disclose sensitive types of information. It is also possible the English proficiency of a respondent may affect the way he or she interprets survey questions. Migrants are also not an homogenous group hence general observations about Australia's migrant population may mask differences between specific ethnic groups.

Further information on the effects of different collection techniques may be found in the ABS Information Paper: Measuring Crime Victimisation, Australia: The Impact of Different Collection Methodologies, 2002 (cat. no. 4522.0.55.001).


LIST OF REFERENCES

ABS (Australian Bureau of Statistics) 2007, General Social Survey: Summary Results, Australia, 2006, cat. no. 4159.0, ABS, Canberra.

ABS 2002, Information Paper: Measuring Crime Victimisation, Australia: The Impact of Different Collection Methodologies, cat. no. 4522.0.55.001, ABS, Canberra.

Baur, J 2006, 'Future migration and policing: Examining assumptions', Australasian Centre for Policing Research Issues, no. 5, ACPR, Adelaide.

Brzozowski, JA, & Mihorean, K 2002, Technical Report on the Analysis of Small Groups in the 1999 General Social Survey, cat. no. 85F0036XIE, Statistics Canada, Ottawa.

Clancy, A, Hough, M, Aust, R, & Kershaw, C 2001, 'Ethnic minorities' experience of crime and policing: Findings from the 2000 British Crime Survey', Home Office Research Study, no.146, Home Office, London.

Jansson, K 2006, 'Black and minority ethnic groups’ experiences and perceptions of crime, racially motivated crime and the police: Findings from the 2004/05 British Crime Survey', Home Office Online Report 25/06, viewed 7 February, <http://www.homeoffice.gov.uk/>.

Johnson, H 2005, 'Experiences of crime in two selected migrant communities', Trends and Issues in Crime and Criminal Justice, no. 302, Australian Institute of Criminology, Canberra.





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