4530.0 - Crime Victimisation, Australia, 2018-19 Quality Declaration 
Latest ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 18/02/2020   
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Victims of assault

The statistics discussed throughout the commentary refer to incidents of selected types of assault that occurred in the 12 months prior to interview for the 2018-19 reference period.

Physical or threatened assault

An estimated 4.8% of Australians aged 15 years and over (956,300) experienced either physical assault or threatened assault, which remained unchanged since 2017-18. Of these:

  • 41% (387,900) experienced a single incident;
  • 15% (142,900) experienced two incidents; and
  • 42% (398,200) experienced three or more incidents.

The following groups were more likely to experience physical or threatened assault in the last 12 months:
  • men (5.2%) compared with women (4.4%);
  • persons aged 15 to 24 (7.5%) compared with persons in all other age categories (ranging from 1.7% for persons aged 65 years and over to 5.5% for persons aged 25 to 44 years);
  • persons living outside of capital cities (5.8%) compared with persons living in capital cities (4.3%);
  • unemployed persons (10.3%) compared with employed persons (5.0%) and persons not in the labour force (4.0%); and
  • persons living in an area in the lowest quintile (most disadvantage) of the Index of Relative Socio-Economic Advantage and Disadvantage (6.9%) compared with persons living in areas in all other quintiles (ranging from 2.9% for the highest quintile to 5.3% for the third quintile).

Physical assault

An estimated 2.4% of Australians aged 15 years and over (468,200) experienced physical assault, which remained unchanged since 2017-18. Of these:
  • 49% (229,500) experienced a single incident;
  • 19% (90,200) experienced two incidents; and
  • 30% (141,900) experienced three or more incidents.

Men and women experienced physical assault at a similar rate (2.5% and 2.3% respectively).

The following groups were more likely to experience physical assault in the last 12 months:
  • persons aged 15 to 24 (3.9%) compared with persons aged 65 years and over (0.8%);
  • persons living outside of capital cities (2.9%) compared with persons living in capital cities (2.1%);
  • unemployed persons (6.2%) compared with employed persons (2.4%) and persons not in the labour force (2.0%); and
  • persons living in an area in the lowest quintile (most disadvantage) of the Index of Relative Socio-Economic Advantage and Disadvantage (3.6%) compared with persons living in the highest quintile (1.3%).

Police reporting of the most recent incident

An estimated 53% of persons who experienced physical assault (246,000) had their most recent incident reported to police. The reporting rate was similar for women (54%) and men (51%).

Common reasons why men did not report to police included:
  • feeling it was too trivial or unimportant (14% or 33,800); and
  • regarding it as a personal matter (13% or 31,700).

Common reasons why women did not report to police included:
  • told somebody else instead (11% or 26,100); and
  • thought that the police would be unwilling or unable to do anything (10% or 22,300).

Other characteristic of the most recent incident

In the most recent incident of physical assault experienced by men:
  • the perpetrator was most commonly a male (80% or 194,500);
  • the perpetrator was a stranger in 53% of incidents (129,000);
  • common locations where the incident occurred included in the street or other open land (24% or 57,800), work (22% or 53,200), and in the man's home (22% or 52,800); and
  • the man believed alcohol or another substance contributed to the incident (60% or 134,700).

In the most recent incident of physical assault experienced by women:
  • the perpetrator was most commonly a male (69% or 158,300);
  • the perpetrator was more commonly someone known to the woman (75% or 171,100) than a stranger (24% or 55,100);
  • the known perpetrator was most frequently an intimate partner (25% or 56,800);
  • the location was most frequently the woman's home (41% or 92,400); and
  • the woman believed alcohol or another substance contributed to the incident (43% or 87,900).

Threatened assault

An estimated 3.0% of Australians aged 15 years and over (600,900) experienced threatened assault (face-to-face and/or non-face-to-face), which was similar to the rate in 2017-18 (2.8%).

Men experienced threatened assault at a higher rate than women (3.3% compared with 2.8%).

Face-to-face threatened assault

An estimated 2.8% of Australians aged 15 years and over (546,500) experienced face-to-face threatened assault, which was similar to the rate in 2017-18 (2.6%). Of these:
  • 40% (218,800) experienced a single incident;
  • 21% (116,900) experienced two incidents; and
  • 38% (206,800) experienced three or more incidents.

The following groups were more likely to experience face-to-face threatened assault in the last 12 months:
  • men (3.0%) compared with women (2.5%);
  • persons aged 15 to 24 (4.2%) compared with persons aged 65 years and over (0.9%);
  • persons living outside of capital cities (3.4%) compared with persons living in capital cities (2.5%); and
  • persons living in an area in the lowest quintile (most disadvantage) of the Index of Relative Socio-Economic Advantage and Disadvantage (3.8%) compared with persons living in the highest quintile (1.7%).

Police reporting of the most recent incident

An estimated 35% of persons (192,900) who experienced face-to-face threatened assault had their most recent incident reported to police. Women were more likely to report their most recent incident of face-to-face threatened assault to police (44%) than men (28%).

The most common reason men gave for not reporting to police was believing it was too trivial or unimportant (23% or 68,000) whilst for women it was because they told somebody else instead (17% or 42,100).

Other characteristics of the most recent incident

In the most recent incident of face-to-face threatened assault experienced by men:
  • the perpetrator was most commonly a male (79% or 230,800);
  • the perpetrator was more frequently a known person (55% or 160,600) than a stranger (44% or 130,600);
  • the known perpetrator was most frequently a professional relationship (11% or 31,500) and colleague/fellow school student (11% or 31,200);
  • the incident most commonly occurred at work (34% or 100,500); and
  • the man believed alcohol or another substance contributed to the incident (46% or 123,400).

In the most recent incident of face-to-face threatened assault experienced by women:
  • the perpetrator was most commonly a male (64% or 162,500);
  • the perpetrator was more frequently a known person (66% or 167,300) than a stranger (35% or 89,900);
  • the known perpetrator was most frequently an intimate partner (17% or 41,900) and professional relationship (17% or 43,600);
  • the incident most commonly occurred at work (36% or 90,500) and the woman’s home (32% or 81,600); and
  • the woman believed alcohol or another substance contributed to the incident (53% or 128,000).

Non face-to-face threatened assault

An estimated 1.0% of Australians aged 15 years and over (202,600) experienced non face-to-face threatened assault in 2018-19, an increase from 0.8% in 2017-18.

The following groups were more likely to experience non face-to-face threatened assault in the last 12 months:
  • women (1.2%) compared with men (0.9%);
  • persons living outside capital cities of Australia (1.4%) compared with those living in capital cities (0.9%).

Police reporting of the most recent incident

Approximately, 31% of all persons (63,600) who experienced non face-to-face threatened assault had their most recent incident reported to police.

Other characteristics of the most recent incident

Of men who experienced non face-to-face threatened assault:
  • 39% (33,600) experienced threatened assault over the phone;
  • 35% (30,500) experienced threatened assault via SMS;
  • 34% (29,600) experienced threatened assault via instant messaging/social networking; and
  • 33% (28,000) experienced threatened assault through another person (or by word of mouth).

Of women who experienced non face-to-face threatened assault:
  • 56% (65,000) experienced threatened assault via SMS;
  • 42% (49,500) experienced threatened assault over the phone;
  • 30% (35,100) experienced threatened assault via instant messaging/social networking; and
  • 23% (26,700) experienced threatened assault through another person (or by word of mouth).

Sexual assault

An estimated 78,300 Australians aged 18 years and over (0.4%) experienced sexual assault, which was similar to the rate in 2017-18 (0.3%).

An estimated 28% of persons who experienced sexual assault had their most recent incident reported to police.