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This publication presents information from the Australian Bureau of Statistics’ (ABS) 2016 Personal Safety Survey (PSS). The survey collected information from men and women aged 18 years and over about the nature and extent of violence experienced since the age of 15.
This analysis focusses on the population with disability or a long-term health condition and their experiences of physical and sexual violence, sexual harassment, stalking and general feelings of personal safety in the year prior to the survey.
In the PSS, disability status is determined based on the respondents’ conditions at the time of the survey. It does not necessarily indicate whether they had a disability or a long-term health condition at the time of any violence, stalking or sexual harassment incidents. It is important to note the survey collects a person’s disability status at the time of interview, not at the time they experienced the violence.
The scope of the survey is persons living in private dwellings; this population excludes people with disability who resided in non-private dwellings such as care facilities. In addition, proxy interviews (when the person selected for the interview is incapable of answering for themselves due to illness/injury or language difficulties and requires a proxy to answer on their behalf) did not include sensitive content, including experiences of violence. Therefore there is an under-representation in the survey of people with a profound or severe communication disability.
EXPERIENCES OF VIOLENCE
In the PSS, violence is defined as any incident involving the occurrence, attempt or threat of either sexual or physical assault. Violence can be broken down into two main categories, sexual violence and physical violence.
In 2016, a higher proportion of people with disability or a long-term health condition experienced physical violence compared with people without disability or a long-term health condition (5.0% or 288,700 people and 4.2% or 531,300 people respectively).
The PSS defines sexual violence as the occurrence, attempt or threat of sexual assault. In 2016, 2.2% of women with a disability or a long-term health condition (63,900 women) reported experiencing sexual violence in the previous 12 months. There was no statistical difference when compared with women with no disability or long-term health condition (1.6% or 105,300 women).
In 2016, two in five people (43.3% or 172,400) with disability or a long-term health condition in the 18-24 age group reported experiencing sexual harassment in 2016. This was almost double the proportion of people without disability or a long-term health condition in the same age group (23.6% or 433,000 people).
In 2016, people with disability or a long-term health condition were more likely to report experiencing stalking in the past 12 months (3.1% or 180,200 people) than people with no disability or a long-term health condition in 2016 (2.1% or 259,800 people).
Both the proportion of people with disability or a long-term health condition who used public transport alone after dark and the proportion who felt safe doing so in the last 12 months increased from 2012 to 2016. However, people with disability or a long-term health condition in 2016 were less likely than people without disability to have used public transport alone after dark in the previous 12 months (25.3% compared with 37.8%).
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