Australian Human Rights Commission decision regarding Personal Safety Survey

During the Australian Bureau of Statistics successful operation of the Personal Safety Survey (PSS) and its predecessors since 1996, the ABS has been committed to ensuring the comfort, well-being and confidentiality of survey participants as well as encouraging engagement to ensure high quality statistics in this critical area.

Due to the sensitive nature of the survey, the ABS undertakes extensive consultation with relevant experts, peak bodies and men’s and women’s support groups and services. These groups have provided ABS with advice throughout development and conduct of each PSS.

The PSS has surveyed both men and women since 2005, at which time ABS received advice that both male and female respondents are more likely to be comfortable providing details of any experiences of violence to a female interviewer.

This decision has been reviewed and tested during the development of each subsequent survey, including through consultation with a number of men's counselling services. These services have supported the ABS proposal to use predominantly female interviewers as long as there was the option of having a male Interviewer if requested. Male interviewers will therefore be trained and available on request, as has been the case for each previous survey.

As has occurred in the past, this position has also again been supported by the Australian Human Rights Commission in their recent decision to uphold ABS’s application for an exemption under s.44 of the Sex Discrimination Act in order to predominantly use female interviewers for the upcoming PSS.

ABS will review the outcomes of the upcoming survey in consultation with expert advisers and community groups in developing future collection processes.