Awful figures highlight the work to be done

Perceptions of safety may be coloured by many things but few could be stronger than personal experience. The impact of assault whether physical or sexual can have a lasting affect on the mental well being  of any individual and permanently affect a sense of feeling secure. As such the latest  2016 Personal Safety Survey from the ABS is an important indicator of the threats to and perceptions of safety.

While the results are not broken down into local areas, the national results give a picture with some positives; experience of violence fell from 7.5 per cent in 2005 to 4.5 per cent in 2016. But on the other hand some figures are still grim; two in five adult Australians over 15 experience an incident of physical or sexual violence.

Forty two per cent of these are men and most likely aged 18-34, highlighting a degree of ‘public violence’ where 66 per cent of men were attacked by a male stranger. It shows Australian males despite romanticised images of comic brawlers are still far too likely to react or solve issues in public with their fists. The consequences, as even one punch deaths show, can be catastrophic.

On other hand the levels of sexual violence and harassment continue to be alarming and appear to have grown worse. Women who have suffered violence in the last year rose from 1.2 per cent in 2012 to 1.8 per cent. Even worse, 87 per cent of the women were sexually assaulted by a man they knew, with forty percent of these occurring in their own homes. As if this level of what might be termed ‘private violence’ were not bad enough, it is also still occurring at shocking levels within relationships; 17 percent of women have suffered violence by a partner. Women were also eight times more likely to be victims than men. Despite some big steps and increasing figures showing a greater willingness to report this crime, the survey indicates nine out of ten sexual assaults was not reported to police.

This deplorable situation highlights in nasty contrast to the myths, a  prevalence of the male bullying archetype with a shocking sense of entitlement over women. November is white ribbon month, aimed at changing these attitudes to women.

Residents in our local area will be marching on Tuesday, November 21 to raise awareness about eliminating violence against women – let’s try to go along, support the cause and walk, each step a reminder this behaviour is backward and change is the only way forward.