4720.0 - National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social Survey: User Guide, 2014-15  
Latest ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 27/05/2016   
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SAFETY, LAW AND JUSTICE


Overview

This chapter provides information on:


Feelings of safety

This topic encompasses two main themes:
  • personal safety; and
  • neighbourhood problems.

Personal safety

People aged 15 years and over were asked about their feelings of safety after dark at home alone and within their local area. A local area is the space close to a person's home, such as their neighbourhood, suburb or community. In the 2014–15 NATSISS, people aged 15 years and over were asked how safe or unsafe they felt in the following situations:
  • at home alone after dark (ie at night); and
  • walking alone in their local area after dark (ie at night).

Being alone meant that the person did not have anyone else with them. However, if a person was at home with a young child, they may have felt as if they were alone and were therefore treated as such. A person who was walking with their dog was considered to be walking alone, unless accompanied by another person. For these situations, a response was provided based on the following levels of safety:
  • very safe;
  • safe;
  • neither safe nor unsafe;
  • unsafe;
  • very unsafe; or
  • never home/walk alone after dark.

Neighbourhood problems

In the 2014–15 NATSISS, people aged 15 years and over were asked whether they were aware of any of the following problems occurring in their neighbourhood or community:
  • theft—including burglaries, theft from homes, motor vehicle theft, other theft;
  • problems involving youths, such as youth gangs/lack of youth activity;
  • prowlers or loiterers;
  • vandalism, graffiti or damage to property;
  • dangerous or noisy driving;
  • alcohol;
  • illegal drugs;
  • family violence;
  • assault;
  • sexual assault or rape;
  • problems with neighbours;
  • levels of neighbourhood conflict;
  • level of personal safety day or night;
  • gambling;
  • no problems; or
  • don't know.

The wording of the response categories differed slightly between non-remote and remote areas, but were treated the same. More than one response could be provided.

Theft includes instances where anything was taken from locked or closed garden sheds or garages. Anything stolen from a garden, motor vehicles, garages or sheds was also included. Theft also includes break-ins, which refer to any unauthorised entry into a closed (but not necessarily locked) premises, with or without theft. People may have reported actual and/or attempted break-ins.

Problems with neighbours could have included excessive noise, parking issues, overhanging or invading plants, or barking/dangerous dogs.

People aged 15 years and over who provided more than one response to the previous question were asked which of these was the main problem in their neighbourhood. They were then asked to rate their level of satisfaction with their local council or government's response to dealing with the main (or only) problem identified using the following scale:
  • very satisfied;
  • satisfied;
  • neither satisfied nor dissatisfied;
  • dissatisfied; or
  • very dissatisfied.

People who answered no problems or don't know for the types of problems in the neighbourhood or community were not asked this question.

Comparison to the 2008 NATSISS

In 2008, neighbourhood problems included the response option, 'none of the above'. This was omitted in 2014–15. In addition, the category, 'gambling' was added in 2014–15.

The question relating to main neighbourhood problem is new in the 2014–15 NATSISS and is unable to be compared to 2008.

In 2008, the level of satisfaction with local government in dealing with problems referred to all identified neighbourhood problems. In 2014–15, this was revised to refer to only the main neighbourhood problem.

The following information was collected in 2008, but was not collected in 2014–15:
  • Feelings of safety at home alone during the day.

Law and justice

This module of the survey includes three main themes:
  • use of legal services;
  • contact with police; and
  • incarceration.

Use of legal services

People may have used legal services for many reasons, other than for criminal matters. Types of use could have included land claims, writing a will or for compensation. Due to the sensitive nature of this topic, the reason(s) a person sought legal advice or assistance was not collected.

In the 2014–15 NATSISS, people aged 15 years and over were asked whether they had used legal services in the 12 months prior to interview. If a person had used legal services, they were then asked which services were used, from the following list:
  • Aboriginal Legal Service (ALS);
  • Legal Aid;
  • private legal service;
  • other; or
  • don't know.

More than one response could be provided and people could also respond that they did not know what type of service they used. Types of other services that may have been used include legal services provided by land councils and the Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission.

The number of types of legal services a person used in the 12 months prior to interview was also calculated. Up to four legal services may have been used. If a person had used services, but did not know the type of service, then the number of legal services would also be not known.

Contact with police

People aged 15 years and over were asked about their contact with police, including whether they had been arrested or charged. Due to the sensitive nature of this topic, the reason(s) a person had contact with the police was not collected. A person may have also chosen not to answer any (or particular) questions.

In the 2014–15 NATSISS, people aged 15 years and over were asked whether they had ever been charged by the police. This included traffic offences when they were also a criminal offence (eg someone was injured, culpable driving, etc). This excludes traffic offences related to an infringement notice only (eg parking fines).

If a person had been charged by the police, they were asked their age the first time they were charged. An age of 8–99 years could have been provided. If a person could not remember their age the first time they were charged, a 'don't know' response was recorded.

People aged 15 years and over were also asked if they had been arrested by the police in the five years prior to interview.

Incarceration

People were asked about time they had spent in gaol, where the time related to being on remand awaiting a court hearing or was part of a gaol sentence. Due to the sensitive nature of this topic, a person may have chosen not to answer any (or particular) questions.

In the 2014–15 NATSISS, people aged 15 years and over were asked whether they had ever been sent to gaol by a judge or magistrate in a court. Time spent in gaol includes:
  • any instance where a person was in gaol, regardless of the length of time; and
  • where a person was in gaol awaiting a court hearing.

Time spent in the custody of a 'night patrol', in a police lockup, or visiting other people in gaol was excluded.

If a person had ever spent time in gaol, they were asked to provide:
  • the total time spent in gaol, including on remand or awaiting a court hearing; and
  • whether they had spent any time in gaol in the five years prior to interview.

The information on the length of time was collected in days, weeks, months or years and then converted into days to provide one consistent form of measurement.

Comparison to the 2008 NATSISS

The following information was collected in 2008, but was not collected in 2014–15:
  • Number of times arrested by police in last 5 years; and
  • Longest time spent on remand and/or incarcerated (days).

Experiences of violence

People were asked to provide information on experiences of any incident where force or violence was used against them, or where they were threatened with physical force or violence. Due to the sensitive nature of the questions, responses were not compulsory and a person may have chosen not to answer any (or particular) questions.

Physical violence

Physical violence is any incident that involves physical assault, where physical assault is the use of physical force with the intent to harm or frighten. In the 2014–15 NATSISS, people aged 15 years and over were asked whether anyone, including people they knew, had used physical force or violence against them in the 12 months prior to the survey. In remote areas, people were asked if anyone had started a fight with them or tried to beat them up.

Types of incidents could have included any time when a person was pushed, shoved, hit or attacked with a weapon. Where the physical force or violence was a legitimate part of participation in a sport (eg boxing, martial arts), this was excluded. Attempted or threatened violence were collected separately (see below).

If a person had experienced physical violence, they were asked how many times. A response of between 1–99 was possible. An estimate was acceptable where the person wasn't able to remember the exact number of incidents.

If a person had experienced more than one incident in the 12 months prior to interview, they were asked to focus on the most recent incident for subsequent questions.

If a person was subject to physical force or violence, they were then asked whether they reported the (most recent) incident to the police. They were also asked whether they knew their offender(s). If a person knew their offender(s), they were asked to nominate their type of relationship(s), from the following list:
  • current partner (de facto/husband/wife);
  • previous partner (de facto/husband/wife);
  • boyfriend, girlfriend or date;
  • ex-boyfriend or ex-girlfriend;
  • parent;
  • child;
  • sibling;
  • other family member;
  • friend;
  • work colleague/fellow school student;
  • neighbour;
  • known by sight only; or
  • other known person.

If a person was subject to physical force or violence in the 12 months prior to interview, they were asked whether alcohol or any other substance contributed to the (most recent) incident. Response options included:
  • yes, alcohol;
  • yes, substances;
  • yes, both;
  • yes, but not sure which;
  • no (neither); and
  • don't know.

People who had experienced physical violence in the 12 months prior to interview were then asked if the (most recent) incident resulted in any physical injuries. If a person was physically injured, harmed or hurt in the (most recent) incident, they were asked to provide the types of injuries received, from the following list:
  • scratches;
  • bruises;
  • cuts;
  • fractures or broken bones;
  • broken teeth;
  • penetrative injury/stab/gun shot; and
  • other.

If the person who received the physical injuries was female, the list of responses also included miscarriage. People who were physically injured were also asked if they visited a health clinic, saw a doctor or any other health professional for their injuries.

Threatened physical violence

Threatened physical violence is any attempt to use or threat to use physical force or violence against a person.

In the 2014–15 NATSISS, people aged 15 years and over were asked whether anyone, including people they knew, had tried to use or threatened to use physical force or violence against them in the 12 months prior to the survey. In remote areas, people were asked if anyone had tried to or said they were going to hit them, fight with them or had threatened them.

Types of incidents could have included any time when a person was threatened in person, by letter, telephone or email. Incidents that did not involve a physical threat, such as name calling or swearing, were not included and where the threat was a legitimate part of participation in a sport this was also excluded.

People in remote areas who had experienced threatened physical violence were then asked how many times. People in non-remote areas were asked how many times they had been threatened face-to-face. A response of between 0–99 was possible. An estimate was acceptable where the person wasn't able to remember the exact number of incidents.

In both remote and non-remote areas, people who experienced an attempt or threat of physical force or violence were asked whether they reported the (most recent) incident to the police.
People in non-remote areas who experienced an attempt or threat of physical force or violence face-to-face were asked whether alcohol or substances contributed to the (most recent) incident. Response options included:
  • yes, alcohol;
  • yes, substances;
  • yes, both;
  • yes, but not sure which;
  • no (neither); and
  • don't know.

Comparison to the 2008 NATSISS

The following data items were new in the 2014–15 NATSISS and are unable to be compared to 2008:
  • Number of times experienced physical violence in last 12 months;
  • Whether alcohol or other substances contributed to most recent physical violence;
  • Number of instances of face-to-face threatened physical violence in last 12 months (non-remote only);
  • Number of instances of threatened physical violence in last 12 months (remote only); and
  • Whether alcohol/substances contributed to most recent face-to-face threatened physical violence (non-remote only).

Experience of physical or threatened violence in last 12 months — 2002 comparison

The data item, 'Experience of physical or threatened violence in last 12 months — 2002 comparison' has been derived in order to be consistent between the 2002, 2008 and 2014–15 NATSISS. A person was determined to have experienced physical or threatened violence for this data item if they:
  • answered 'yes' to or refused to answer the question about whether experienced physical violence in the previous 12 months; or
  • lived in non-remote areas and had experienced threats face-to-face; or
  • lived in remote areas and had experienced threats.

This data item is comparable between NATSISS surveys. However, other ABS sources only include threats which occur face-to-face. Comparisons with such sources should be made with care. In some cases, a comparison with the non-remote component of NATSISS will be the most appropriate, as threats were only included in this data item in non-remote areas where they were face-to-face.