4906.0 - Personal Safety, Australia, 2012  
ARCHIVED ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 11/12/2013   
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1 The 2012 PSS was designed to provide, where possible, information that was comparable to the 2005 PSS to allow for an assessment of changes over time to be made.

2 Selected summary results from the 2005 and 2012 PSS are presented in this publication to provide comparisons over time - refer to Table 2 and Table 21. The statistical significance of differences in estimates between 2005 and 2012 has been investigated and results that are statistically significant are indicated in the commentary for Prevalence of violence.

3 The scope, content and data collection for the 2012 survey was largely the same as the 2005 survey. However the sample design and weighting procedures were not. Changes between the 2005 and 2012 surveys are noted below.

  • Sample size – The sample size for the 2012 survey was significantly larger to accommodate the need to provide information for males at the national level, and for females at the national and state and territory level.
  • Sample design – To facilitate changes in field procedures, selected dwelling were pre-assigned a gender during the sample selection process.
  • Slight changes to question concepts and/or definitions – Some changes were made to definitions to assist with respondent understanding and these have been noted in the data items list available from the Downloads Tab.
  • Weighting – Additional benchmarks were used in the weighting process.
4 These changes have minimal impact on the comparability of data between the 2005 and 2012 surveys.

5 Further information regarding weighting will be available from the 2012 Personal Safety Survey, Australia: Users’ Guide available for release from the ABS website in early 2014.


6 The ABS publishes data relating to crime and safety from different sources. Comparisons of PSS data with data from other sources cannot be readily made because of differences in data collection methods and the concepts and definitions used to measure violence.

7 Other main differences which may affect the comparability of data presented in this publication are outlined below.

8 In addition to the 2012 PSS, crime victimisation indicators have recently been collected by the ABS through the 2011-12 Crime Victimisation Survey (CVS) and the 2010 General Safety Survey (GSS). Although all three are household surveys, they each use different methodologies and procedures resulting in different measures of crime victimisation.

9 The estimated prevalence rates of people's experiences of violence varied across these three surveys. Some of the differences in estimates are attributable to differences in collection methodology and procedures, including survey mode (face-to-face or telephone interviewing) context effects (preceding questions influence responses to subsequent questions), differences in question wording and the length and timing of data collection.

10 The PSS is designed specifically to collect potentially sensitive information on feelings of safety and assault victimisation. The survey involved face to face personal interviews using Computer Assisted Interviewing (CAI) incorporating special procedures that:

  • built a rapport with respondents and encouraged them to provide answers to often difficult and very personal questions
  • emphasised the need for a safe environment in which to conduct the interview, and
  • enabled concepts and definitions to be explained to the respondent as necessary.

11 The CVS is conducted by telephone interview as part of the Multi-Purpose Household Survey, a supplement to the ABS' monthly Labour Force Survey (LFS). The survey collects information from household members, aged 15 years and over, about their experiences of a range of personal crimes such as physical and threatened assault, robbery and sexual assault (for persons aged 18 years and over) and household crimes such as break-in, attempted break-in, motor vehicle theft, theft from a motor vehicle, malicious property damage and other theft in the 12 months prior to interview. The survey defines physical assault as an act of physical force or violence by the offender/s against the victim. Sexual assault is under-reported when collected in the CVS, compared to the PSS, largely because it is conducted by telephone survey, whereas the PSS uses face to face interviews.

12 The GSS involved a face to face personal interview using CAI. Being a general survey of social issues, the collection of information about crime and safety was not a focus of the survey and was therefore collected using a broad measure only. The GSS estimates higher rates of physical violence in the past 12 months than the CVS. A key reason for this is that the rates of physical violence in the GSS are likely to include indistinguishable sexual violence as this survey does not ask separate questions about sexual violence. The 2012 PSS also estimates lower prevalence of physical assault than the GSS. This is likely to be because PSS respondents were asked about the most recent incident of sexual assault and sexual threat and then respondents were instructed to exclude any incidents they had already reported when reporting any incidents of physical assault and physical threat, whereas the GSS only asked about physical assaults and threats. It is possible an incident that may have been reported as sexual assault in the PSS would have been included as a physical assault in the GSS.

13 Further information on crime data measurement issues is available in the following: Information paper: Measuring Crime Victimisation, Australia: The Impact of Different Collection Methodologies, 2002 (cat. no. 4522.0.55.001).