ABS survey shows decline in rates of violence


The rate of violence in Australia has fallen over the last decade, according to 2016 Personal Safety Survey (PSS) figures released today by the Australian Bureau of Statistics.

Results from the survey show a drop in the proportion of Australians responding they had experienced some form of violence in the past year, with rates declining from 8.3 per cent in 2005 to 5.4 per cent in 2016.

The decline was driven by a decrease in the proportion of Australians experiencing physical violence, from 7.5 per cent in 2005 to 4.5 per cent in 2016. For men, the proportion that responded they had experienced physical violence in the past year has almost halved, decreasing from 10 per cent in 2005 to 5.4 per cent in 2016. Women’s experiences have also decreased over the same period from 4.7 per cent to 3.5 per cent.

Michelle Marquardt, Program Manager for Household Surveys, said the PSS, which included about 21,000 respondents, was an important survey about the nature and characteristics of people’s experiences of violence in Australia.

“The results show that two in five adult Australians had experienced an incident of physical or sexual violence since the age of 15,” Ms Marquardt said.

“Broken down by gender this was 42 per cent of men (3.8 million) and 37 per cent of women (3.4 million).”

Partner violence

The survey shows that females from the age of 15 years were almost three times more likely to experience violence by a current and/or previous partner they lived with than males: 17 per cent (1.6 million) compared to 6.1 per cent (547,600).

Sexual harassment

“The survey also found that more than one in two women (53 per cent or 5 million) and one in four men (25 per cent or 2.2 million) responded they had experienced some form of sexual harassment during their lifetime,” Ms Marquardt said.

“In 2016 alone, one in six women (17 per cent or 1.6 million) and one in 11 men (9 per cent or 836,700) experienced sexual harassment.

“Young women aged 18 to 24 years were the most likely to experience sexual harassment, with around two in five (38 per cent or 421,400) reporting being sexually harassed in the past 12 months.”

Media notes

  • Violence is defined as any incident involving the occurrence, attempt or threat of either physical or sexual assault experienced by a person since the age of 15.
  • The term 'partner' is used to describe a person the respondent lives with, or lived with at some point, in a married or de facto relationship.
  • The survey measures the experiences of men and women in relation to rates of violence, sexual harassment, stalking, partner violence, and partner emotional abuse. Further information can be found in Personal Safety, Australia (cat. no. 4906.0) and Personal Safety Survey, Australia: User Guide (cat. no. 4906.0.55.003).
  • For more detailed information about the definitions used in the survey refer to the publication Glossary.
  • When reporting ABS data, the Australian Bureau of Statistics (or ABS) must be attributed as the source.
  • For media requests and interviews, contact the ABS Communications and Partnerships Section on 1300 175 070 (8.30am - 5pm Mon-Fri).
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