4906.0.55.003 - Personal Safety Survey, Australia: User Guide, 2016  
Latest ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 08/11/2017   
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SEXUAL HARASSMENT

POPULATION

Information regarding lifetime experiences of sexual harassment was obtained from men and women aged 18 years and over in the 2016 PSS.

DEFINITION

Sexual harassment is considered to have occurred when a person has experienced or been subjected to one or more selected behaviours which they found improper or unwanted, which made them feel uncomfortable, and/or were offensive due to their sexual nature.

METHODOLOGY

The sexual harassment module consists of a set of questions asking about experiences of sexual harassment in the respondents lifetime and in the 12 months prior to the survey. Questions in this topic are asked once for sexual harassment by a man and then repeated for sexual harassment by a woman.
Respondents are asked if they have ever experienced any of the following behaviours, and which they found improper, unwanted, or offensive, due to their sexual nature:

Indecent phone call

    • Includes:
      • Phone calls that went to voicemail or answering machines
    • Excludes:
      • Phone calls or messages in which profanity was used, unless this was offensive due to its sexual nature
      • Phone calls or messages involving racial vilification, unless this was offensive due to its sexual content e.g. implying that people of a particular cultural group have certain sexual characteristics
      • Phone calls or messages that were part of a stalking incident (these are recorded in the Stalking module)
      Indecent text, email or post
      • Includes:
        • Electronic messages (such as text messages, SMS, MMS, posts on Facebook, emails, or other Internet messages) as well as post sent in the mail
        • Written messages (such as letters delivered by mail or notes) left where they could be found by the person
        • 'Post’ includes both posting information on internet social networking sites, and post sent via the mail
        • Excludes:
          • Messages in which profanity was used, unless this was offensive due to its sexual content
          • Messages involving racial vilification, unless this was offensive due to its sexual content e.g. implying that people of a particular cultural group have certain sexual characteristics
          • Messages that were part of a stalking incident (these are recorded in the Stalking module)

        Indecent exposure
        • Includes:
          • Exposing genitals for the purpose of distressing, shocking, humiliating and/or generating fear in a person
          Inappropriate comments about body or sex life
          • Includes:
            • Inappropriate comments in a group situation as well as when the respondent is alone with the person who is harassing them
            • Sexual comments that are related to the respondent’s race, such as implying that people of a particular cultural group have certain sexual characteristics

          Unwanted touching, grabbing, kissing or fondling
          • Includes:
            • Momentary or brief touching or contact, for example groping or brushing against a breast or bottom
            • Excludes:
              • Incidents of a sexual nature which were longer than momentary (these are recorded as sexual assault in the Violence module)
              Distributing or posting pictures or videos of the person, that were sexual in nature, without their consent
              • Includes:
                • Taking a photo or video which was sexual in nature without their consent, or showing/sending/posting the photos/videos which were sexual in nature without their consent
                Exposed to pictures, videos, or materials which were sexual in nature that the person did not wish to see
                • Includes:
                  • Emailing the person or making them watch pornography
                  • Displaying posters, magazines or screen savers of a sexual nature for the person to see

                DATA ITEMS

                The data items and related output categories for this topic are contained within the SPS Level – Sexual harassment tab in the data item list which is available in Excel spreadsheet format from the Downloads tab of this product

                DATA USES

                Sexual harassment prevalence data can be used to examine:
                • The estimated number and proportion (rate) of persons that have experienced sexual harassment (including specific types of harassment) by a man and/or woman during the last 12 months or in their lifetime
                • Differences in the sexual harassment prevalence rate between men and women, including specific types of sexual harassment

                INTERPRETATION

                Points to be considered when interpreting data for this topic include the following:
                • Whether or not any sexual harassment amounted to a criminal offence cannot be determined from the information collected.
                • The PSS only asks respondents about selected sexual harassment behaviours, and therefore may not capture all forms of sexual harassment that exist.
                • The recognition and identification of any behaviour as sexual harassment is based on the respondent’s subjective beliefs regarding the nature and perceived intent of the behaviour. Individual differences in thresholds for what constitutes improper, unwanted, or offensive behaviour will affect how respondents interpret and answer these questions.
                • Where a person has experienced sexual harassment by both a male and a female, they are counted separately for each sex of perpetrator but are counted only once in the aggregated total.
                • Unlike other data in this survey, questions about sexual harassment are not restricted by a particular age period (e.g. since the age of 15 or before the age of 15). This should be kept in mind when comparing data from this topic with data from other topics.
                • The PSS does not collect any detailed information about characteristics of actions taken for the sexual harassment experience.

                COMPARABILITY WITH PREVIOUS SURVEYS

                Information about experiences of sexual harassment was collected in the 2005 and 2012 editions of the PSS, as well as the 1996 Women’s Safety Survey (WSS). The following should be noted when making comparisons:
                • The 1996 WSS only collected information about women’s experiences of sexual harassment by a man. The 2005, 2012, and 2016 PSS collected information about men’s and women’s experiences of sexual harassment by both a man and a woman.
                • The 2012 and 2016 PSS only included instances where the sexual harassment behaviours experienced by the respondent were found to be improper or offensive due to their sexual nature. The 1996 WSS and 2005 PSS merely determined if respondents had ever experienced the sexual harassment behaviours, and did not ask whether the respondent found the behaviours to be improper or offensive due to their sexual nature. Therefore, comparisons between sexual harassment data in the 2012 and 2016 PSS surveys are unable to be made with data from the 1996 WSS or the 2005 PSS.
                • New sexual harassment behaviours have been included into the 2016 PSS (such as the use of information and communications technology) in order to accurately capture emerging trends in experiences of sexual harassment. Although these behaviours may have previously been collected as part of other categories, this should be considered when comparing sexual harassment prevalence rates between the 2012 and 2016 cycles.

                COMPARISONS WITH OTHER CYCLES


                  1996 Women's Safety Survey
                  2005 Personal Safety Survey
                  2012 Personal Safety Survey
                  2016 Personal Safety Survey

                  PopulationWomen aged 18 years and olderMen and women aged 18 years and olderMen and women aged 18 years and olderMen and women aged 18 years and older
                  TimeframeWhether ever experienced sexual harassment in lifetimeWhether ever experienced sexual harassment in lifetimeWhether ever experienced sexual harassment in lifetimeWhether ever experienced sexual harassment in lifetime
                  Perpetrator sexMaleMale and femaleMale and femaleMale and female
                  Sexual harassment behaviours
                  • Obscene phone call
                  • Indecent exposure by a man
                  • Inappropriate comments about body/sex life by a man
                  • Unwanted sexual touching by a man
                  • Obscene phone call
                  • Indecent exposure
                  • Inappropriate comments about body/sex life
                  • Unwanted sexual touching
                  • Indecent phone calls
                  • Indecent text, email, or post
                  • Indecent exposure
                  • Inappropriate comments about body/sex life
                  • Unwanted touching, grabbing, kissing, fondling
                  • Indecent phone calls
                  • Indecent text, email or post
                  • Indecent exposure
                  • Inappropriate comments about body or sex life
                  • Unwanted touching, grabbing, kissing or fondling
                  • Distributing or posting pictures or videos of the person without their consent
                  • Exposed to pictures or videos
                  Comparability1996 data is comparable with 2005 data, but not comparable with 2012 and 2016 data.2005 data is comparable with 1996 data, but not comparable with 2012 and 2016 data.2012 data is generally considered comparable with 2016 data, but not comparable to 1996 or 2005 data.2016 data is generally considered comparable with 2012 data, but not comparable to 1996 or 2005 data.