4530.0 - Crime Victimisation, Australia, 2015-16 Quality Declaration 
ARCHIVED ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 02/02/2017   
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This publication presents findings from the Australian Bureau of Statistics’ (ABS) 2015–16 Crime Victimisation Survey, which was conducted throughout Australia from July 2015 to June 2016.

This is the eighth annual national survey of crime victimisation in Australia, with the first Crime Victimisation Survey conducted in 2008–09. The publication presents estimates of the extent of victimisation experienced by Australians aged 15 years and over for selected types of crime, and whether or not the most recent incident of each crime type was reported to police. The survey also collects information about selected characteristics of incidents for each crime type (such as the location of the incident and the victim’s relationship to the offender) and socio-demographic details of persons who experienced crime (such as age, sex and education). The statistics referred to throughout the commentary are available for download as data cubes from the Downloads tab.


The survey included both personal crimes and household crimes. Definitions of the individual crime types can be found in the Glossary.

The personal crimes included in the survey were:

  • Physical assault
  • Threatened assault (including face-to-face and non face-to-face threatened assault)
  • Robbery
  • Sexual assault.

The household crimes included in the survey were:
  • Break-in
  • Attempted break-in
  • Motor vehicle theft
  • Theft of property from a motor vehicle
  • Malicious property damage
  • Other theft.


For the Crime Victimisation Survey, a victim is a person or household who has experienced at least one incident of a selected type of crime in the 12 months prior to interview in 2015–16. While state and territory legislative definitions of these crime types may differ, the survey questions define them in terms of specific behaviours and actions to ensure consistency in definitions and responses across jurisdictions. For example, a respondent was counted as a victim of physical assault if they reported they had experienced 'physical force or violence' against their person. Responses therefore reflect individual respondents' subjective understanding of the survey questions and their own interpretation of their experiences.

Although a respondent may have experienced more than one incident of a given crime type in the reference period, they are only counted once as a victim of the crime type.


An incident is a single occurrence of a criminal event, such as a break-in to a household or an assault of a person. In any particular incident, a number of different crime types may be committed against a person or household. The Crime Victimisation Survey collects separate information about each selected offence that occurs within an incident.

For instance, a person might confront someone breaking into their home and deliberately damaging property and subsequently be assaulted during that same incident.

In this example, the person would be counted as a victim of physical assault, and the household would be counted as a victim of each break-in and malicious property damage (as demonstrated in Diagram 1).

Diagram 1: Breakdown of incident recording

Diagram showing how an incident can be made up of several different crime types, in this case, an incident of break-in that involved two household crimes (break-in and malicious property damage) and one personal crime (physical assault)


People and households may experience more than one criminal incident in the 12 months prior to interview, which may involve the same crime type or differing crime types. For the Crime Victimisation Survey, 'multiple victimisation' refers to experiences of more than one incident of the same crime type within the 12 months prior to interview. For example, for the purposes of this survey a person who reports experiencing physical assault on three separate occasions with the reference period is considered as having experienced multiple victimisation for physical assault. Where a person or household experienced multiple victimisation, specific details (e.g. relationship to the offender, the type of property stolen or defaced) are only collected for the most recent incident of each crime type experienced by the person or household.

Statistics about multiple victimisation are presented as a categorical variable in this publication, based on the number of incidents of each crime type experienced by victims.


Statistics derived from the Crime Victimisation Survey provide important information for the community about the prevalence of crime in Australia. This includes not only incidents that are reported to the police, but also those that are not brought to the attention of the police. This differs from available administrative data sourced from state and territory police, which capture only those incidents that are reported to and recorded by police. More information about the differences between administrative data and survey data when measuring levels of crime victimisation can be found in the ABS information paper Measuring Victims of Crime: A Guide to Using Administrative and Survey Data, June 2011 (cat. no. 4500.0.55.001).

Data from the Crime Victimisation Survey are used by police agencies, the justice sector, researchers, and the wider Australian community to better understand the extent and nature of certain types of crime in Australia, and the proportion of crime that goes unreported to police. This knowledge contributes to a range of community, police and public policy initiatives, such as operational planning, evaluation of services, education programs and prevention policies.


There is limited information available in this publication about family and domestic violence. The Crime Victimisation Survey collects information about experiences of personal violence and the relationship between the victim and offender, however, this information alone is not sufficient to reliably measure the number of people who have experienced family and domestic violence. The Crime Victimisation Survey collects incident characteristics information, including relationship to the offender, only for the most recent incident of each type of personal crime experienced in the 12 months prior to interview. This means that not all experiences of personal violence by each relationship type - including current and previous partners - are captured in the survey. In addition, as interviews are conducted by telephone in the respondent’s home, there is no requirement for a private interview setting for the Crime Victimisation Survey (as is the case for the ABS’ Personal Safety Survey). This non-private setting means respondents may be less likely to disclose any experiences of violence by their partner if their partner is present in the home at the time of interview. As a result, the statistics on relationship type available in this publication should be interpreted with caution and cannot be used to draw conclusions about the prevalence of family and domestic violence in Australia.

Due to the ongoing relationship between victim and perpetrator, family and domestic violence is often a recurring event, and the protracted nature of this violence cannot be reliably measured within the framework of the Crime Victimisation Survey. Further information about defining and measuring family and domestic violence is available in Defining the Data Challenge for Family Domestic and Sexual Violence, 2013 (cat. no. 4529.0) and statistics are available in the Personal Safety, Australia, 2012 (cat. no. 4906.0) and Recorded Crime - Victims, Australia, 2015 (cat. no. 4510.0).


The statistics included in this publication are based on survey data obtained from a sample of the Australian population. The figures contained in the tables are referred to as 'estimates' and are calculated by adjusting results from a sample survey to produce an estimated result for the entire in-scope population. A measure of the likely difference between the result obtained from surveying a sample of persons rather than the entire in-scope population is referred to as sampling error. As a general rule, sampling error tends to decrease as the size of the sample increases. This means sampling error is likely to be higher for estimates relating to smaller subpopulations and low-prevalence experiences.

The relative standard error (RSE) is a standardised measure of sampling error. Estimates with a RSE of less than 25% are considered sufficiently reliable for most analytical purposes, and only these are referred to in the publication commentary. Due to the relatively small numbers of persons experiencing certain types of crime, some of the estimates provided in the data cubes are subject to high sampling error; these are annotated with footnotes when presented in the publication commentary and cell comments in the data cubes. Estimates with a RSE of between 25% and 50% are considered to be less reliable, and users are advised to use these with caution. Where estimates have a RSE of 50% or more, the RSE value is not available for publication and users are advised that these estimates are considered too unreliable for general use.

All comparisons between populations mentioned in the publication commentary have been tested for statistical significance, with a 95% level of confidence that there is a real difference in the characteristic being measured between the two populations being compared. More information about significance testing can be found in the Technical Note.


To minimise the risk of identifying individuals in aggregate statistics, a confidentiality technique called perturbation is used to randomly adjust cell values. Perturbation involves small random adjustment of the statistics and is considered the most satisfactory technique for avoiding the release of identifiable statistics while maximising the range of information that can be released. These adjustments have a negligible impact on the underlying pattern of the statistics. Perturbation has been applied to data from 2013–14 onwards.

Where the same statistic is published more than once in different tables it is perturbed in the same way to ensure consistency across tables. However, cell values may not add up to totals within the same table as a result of perturbation.