Australian Bureau of Statistics – Personal Safety Survey (PSS)


Collection frequency

4–5 yearly

Latest data


Description of data source

The survey is conducted by the ABS and collects information from people aged 18 years and over in private dwellings across Australia (excluding very remote areas) about the nature and extent of violence experienced since the age of 15.

It also collects detailed information about people’s experience of:

  • current and previous partner violence and emotional abuse since the age of 15
  • stalking since the age of 15
  • physical and sexual abuse before the age of 15
  • witnessing violence between a parent and partner before the age of 15
  • lifetime experience of sexual harassment
  • general feelings of safety.

The PSS uses the ABS Short Disability Module1 to identify the presence of disability or a restrictive long-term health condition. Disability or a restrictive long-term health condition is defined as having at least one condition which restricts everyday activities, for at least 6 months.

Disability types

The PSS identifies six disability groups based on particular types of disability:

  • sensory and speech
  • intellectual
  • physical restriction
  • psychosocial
  • head injury, stroke or acquired brain injury (ABI)
  • other.

People may have more than one type of disability. In reporting by disability groups, people could be counted more than once if they have disabilities from more than one disability group.

Severity of disability

The PSS classifies disability according to the degree of limitation or impairment in core activities into profound, severe, moderate, and mild limitation. In addition, the PSS distinguishes people with disability who have no limitation in core activities but have schooling or employment restriction, and people with disability who have no specific limitation or restriction. The ADS OF reports on outcomes of people with severe and/or profound disability, as well as outcomes of people with other disability status (people with disability who have disability status other than severe or profound). 

Age groups

Age refers to the age of a person on their last birthday.


Sex is recorded as ‘Male’ or ‘Female’. If, when collecting the household details, there was someone identified as a transgender or intersex person, the interviewer was instructed to request the responsible adult to identify which sex the household member most closely identified as.

Indigenous status

Information on Indigenous status is not collected.

Definition of CALD

The PSS collects information on country of birth of respondent and their mother and father, main language spoken at home, first language spoken as a child, and proficiency in spoken English. This information is used to derive Culturally and Linguistically Diverse (CALD) status for reporting against the ADS OF measures.

For the ADS OF reporting purposes, the CALD cohort includes people born in countries other than main English-speaking countries (Australia, New Zealand, the UK, the USA, Canada, Republic of Ireland, and South Africa), and/or those who mainly speak a language other than English at home. People born in main English-speaking countries who mainly speak English at home, and/or those who are nonverbal, mainly use Auslan at home, or mainly speak an Australian Indigenous language at home are included in the non-CALD cohort.

The CALD cohort is further sub-divided according to proficiency in spoken English. Low English proficiency group includes people who mainly speak a language other than English at home with self-reported proficiency in spoken English of 'not well' or 'not at all'. High English proficiency group includes people who mainly speak a language other than English at home with self-reported proficiency in spoken English of 'well' or 'very well', and those who mainly speak English at home.

Geographic information

Remoteness is classified according to the 2011 Australian Statistical Geography Standard (ASGS). Data source does not cover very remote areas and discrete Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities. 3


The data is available at the national level. The sample for the PSS provides sufficiently reliable state and territory and national level estimates for women. The sample provides sufficiently reliable national level estimates for men.

Measures reported
  1. The Short Disability Module used in the PSS to identify the presence of disability has been found to overestimate the number of people with less severe forms of disability (4431.0.55.002 - ABS Sources of Disability Information, 2012 - 2016).
  2. Disability status is collected as at the time of the survey. It does not indicate whether a person had disability at the time of an incident of violence.
  3. Further information on the geographic index used by this data source can be found at Remoteness Structure | Australian Bureau of Statistics (