Risk factors in Indigenous violent victimisations


It is widely acknowledged is that Indigenous Australians experience violent victimisation at markedly higher rates than other Australians. However, as in all communities, some individuals, even within the same group, face a greater risk of victimisation than others. Identifying which individuals, families or communities are at risk, and under what circumstances, is essential to implement effective preventative (e.g. night patrol, family counselling) and, in some cases, reactive (e.g. hospital services, child protection services) strategies. The ability to do this relies on having already established accurate predictive risk factors. This paper draws on existing studies and data from surveys, service providers and the criminal justice system to examine how victimisation rates for specific types of violence vary with demographic, psychological, sociological and cultural factors within the Indigenous population, and how these are similar to or different from those observed in mainstream society. In many instances, the factors associated with increased risk of violent victimisation among Indigenous people are similar to those associated with increased risk among non-Indigenous populations; broad socioeconomic indicators such as marital status, level of income, residential stability and employment status are significant predictors of victimisation in both groups. Nevertheless, violent victimisation in Indigenous communities does appear to differ; Indigenous females are disproportionately affected, particularly by family violence, and patterns of violence appear to be more strongly linked to alcohol use patterns. High rates of victimisation are ultimately linked with factors that collectively may result from or reflect compromised levels of functioning, both inherent and external to the victim, including a high stress environment, unemployment, high alcohol use, high housing mobility and high levels of violence. While this study demonstrates that it is possible to piece together victimisation risk factors from existing qualitative and quantitative studies, it also highlights that caution is required. The ability to identify sufficiently predictive risk factors remains constrained by the level of detail provided in existing surveys and datasets. Of particular importance is identifying how risk is elevated or ameliorated at community, local and regional levels by unique environmental or cultural factors, and how to implement localised prevention strategies.

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© Australian Institute of Criminology 2008 ISSN 1836-2052 ISBN 978 1 921185 96 0 Apart from any fair dealing for the purpose of private study, research, criticism or review, as permitted under the Copyright Act 1968 (Cth), no part of this publication may in any form or by any means (electronic, mechanical, microcopying, photocopying, recording or otherwise) be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system or transmitted without prior written permission. Inquiries should be addressed to the publisher. Project no. 0144 Ethics approval no. PO128 Published by the Australian Institute of Criminology GPO Box 2944 Canberra ACT 2601 Tel: (02) 6260 9200 Fax: (02) 6260 9299 Email: front.desk@aic.gov.au Website: http://www.aic.gov.au Please note: minor revisions are occasionally made to publications after release. The online versions available on the AIC website will always include any revisions. Disclaimer: This research report does not necessarily re?ect the policy position of the Australian Government. Edited and typeset by the Australian Institute of Criminology