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4725.0 - Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Wellbeing: A focus on children and youth, Apr 2011  
Latest ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 23/05/2012  Reissue
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Contents >> Law and Justice >> Experiences of violence


LAW AND JUSTICE: EXPERIENCES OF VIOLENCE

This article is part of a comprehensive series released as Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Wellbeing: A focus on children and youth.


Note: In this section, the terms 'youth' and 'young people' refer to people aged 15–24 years, and 'children' refers to people aged 4–14 years. Data presented are from the ABS National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social Survey, 2008 (cat. no. 4714.0).

KEY MESSAGES

In 2008:
  • 31% of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander youth had experienced physical and/or threatened violence in the 12 months before the survey
  • youth who were not victims of physical and/or threatened violence were less likely to report ill-health, high or very high levels of psychological distress, alcohol consumption, illicit substance use and discrimination than young people who were not victims
  • 36% of youth who were victims of physical and/or threatened violence had reported the incident to police.

Growing up in a safe environment, free from violence or the threat of violence, is important for young people's physical, psychological and social development (Endnote 1). Young people are more likely than those in older age groups to be at risk of experiencing violence, whether they identify themselves as Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander or non-Indigenous (Endnote 2).

In 2008, 31% of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander youth reported that they had been a victim of physical or threatened violence in the previous 12 months. This was significantly higher than the rate among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people aged 25 years and over (21%).

EXPERIENCES OF VIOLENCE AND OTHER ASPECTS OF WELLBEING

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander young people who had not experienced physical or threatened violence in the last year (69%), were more likely than young people who had been victims, to:
  • report that their health was excellent or very good (61% compared with 51%)
  • agree or strongly agree that most people could be trusted (39% compared with 29%)
  • feel able to have a say with their friends and family on important issues all or most of the time (71% compared with 63%)
  • have not consumed alcohol at all in the last 12 months (42% compared with 24%).

They were also less likely than those who had been victims to:
Young females who had not been victims of physical or threatened violence were also more likely than those who had been victims to feel safe alone at home during the day and night and while walking alone at night, that is, in all three situations (35% compared with 24%). This pattern was not evident among young males.

There were no statistically significant differences between the proportion of young people who had been victims of violence and those who had not across a range of other indicators that contribute to wellbeing. These indicators included employment, study, availability of support from outside the household and whether they had friends they could confide in.

VICTIMS OF PHYSICAL VIOLENCE

The 2008 National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social Survey (NATSISS) asked additional questions of those who had personally experienced physical violence in the past year. All questions referred to the most recent act of physical violence.

In 2008, an estimated 20,900 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander young people (20%) had directly experienced physical violence in the 12 months before the survey. Young males and females were equally likely to have experienced physical violence.

Young people were significantly more likely than people aged 25 years and over to have been victims of physical violence (20% compared with 12%).

Perpetrators

Among young people who had experienced physical violence in the 12 months before the survey, 85% knew the perpetrator. Young females were more likely than young males to have known the perpetrator of the most recent act of violence (94% and 77% respectively).

One-quarter (25%) of youth who had directly experienced violence reported that the perpetrator of the most recent act of violence was a friend, work colleague, fellow student or neighbour. Just over one in five (21%) reported that the perpetrator was a current or ex-partner and 20% identified a family member as the offender.

Young female victims of violence were most likely to have identified the perpetrator as a current or ex-partner (42%) or family member (25%), while young male victims were most likely to have identified the perpetrator of violence as a friend, work colleague, fellow student or neighbour (29%) or a person known by sight only (19%).

Injuries

Nearly half (49%) of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander young people who had been a victim of violence in the 12 months before the survey said that they had suffered a physical injury from the most recent incident.

The proportion of young males who had sustained a physical injury as a result of the most recent violent incident (44%) was not significantly different from that of young females (55%).

Of those who had been injured (respondents may have reported more than one type of injury):
  • 89% said that they suffered from bruises, cuts or scratches
  • 11% said that they sustained fractures or broken bones
  • 21% had experienced another type of injury.
Of those young people injured, nearly four in ten (39%) visited a health professional as a result of their injury.

REPORTING TO THE POLICE

Of the 32,600 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander youth who had been a victim of physical or threatened violence in the last year, 36% had reported the incident to the police. Young females were almost twice as likely as young males to have reported at least one incident involving violence or threats of violence to the police (46% compared with 24%).

People aged 25 years or over were more likely than young people to have reported violence to the police (43% compared with 36%).
ENDNOTES

1 Australian Bureau of Statistics 2001, Measuring Wellbeing: Framework for Australian Social Statistics, cat. no. 4160.0, ABS, Canberra, <www.abs.gov.au>.

2 Australian Bureau of Statistics 2006, General Social Survey, cat. no. 4159.0, ABS, Canberra,<www.abs.gov.au>.


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