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Case Study 4: Personal Safety Survey (Target 3.3)

The Personal Safety Survey (PSS) 2016 was a special social survey funded by the Department of Social Services (DSS), and carried out by the ABS. This was the third time the DSS has requested the ABS run the survey, the last time being in 2012 and prior to that in 2005.

The PSS aims to build the evidence base on the nature, extent and characteristics of violence in Australia. It enables monitoring and evaluation of the government’s success in reducing the prevalence of Family and Domestic Violence (FDV) and Sexual Violence (SV) in Australia.

In order to maximise the value of the survey’s data, the ABS encouraged collaboration with key stakeholders by working closely with the Commonwealth, state and territory and non-government representatives to identify priorities and requirements of the survey. This has strengthened the family, domestic, and sexual violence evidence base and encouraged sharing of knowledge and information across the sector.

The provision of trusted official statistics on the prevalence of men’s and women’s experience of violence is important to the nation. The need for high quality national data on the prevalence of family and domestic violence and sexual violence is discussed in the COAG-endorsed National Plan to Reduce Violence against Women and their Children 2010–2022.

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. It also collected detailed information about men’s and women’s experience of current and previous partner violence and emotional abuse, stalking, physical and sexual abuse, and general feelings of safety.

The results from the 2016 Personal Safety Survey were made public in November 2017, and have informed media stories as well as being used extensively by stakeholders. The Department of Social Services describes the PSS as “a valued national dataset that helps DSS measure the performance and success of the National Plan’s indicators of change”.

The ABS and DSS will be partnering again to undertake the next Personal Safety Survey in 2020, continuing a valuable relationship that informs a variety of policy decisions in Australia.

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