Trauma-informed policy, processes and programs

Traumatic life experiences require responses that are sensitive to the lived experience of the individual. Trauma-informed approaches respect and recognise that people with disability are experts in their own lives. Implementing trauma-informed approaches in policies, processes and programs provides better responses to people with disability who have experienced trauma (Australia’s Disability Strategy 2021–2031).

Seeking support following assault

While formal and informal supports are available, people with disability who experience violence often have limited or no access to information about where and how to seek these supports (DRC 2022).

Another barrier to accessing support is that many people with disability who are experiencing violence do not report abuse or identify that they need protection due to fear of negative repercussions (AHRC 2013). Other reasons for not seeking support include fear of not being believed, fear/uncertainty of the criminal justice system and a lack of access to support networks (ABS 2013).

The desired population outcome for this measure is to see an increase in people with disability accessing trauma-informed services.

Population measure: Proportion of people with disability who experienced assault and sought advice or support after the most recent incident

Desired outcome: Increase in the proportion

Data source: ABS PSS

Results at baseline: 2016

  • In 2016, just over half (52%) of people with disability aged 18 or over who experienced assault sought advice or support after the most recent incident. This proportion has fallen since 2012 when it was 57% (see Figure 4.2).
  • A greater proportion of females with disability than males with disability reported that they sought advice or support following recent incidents of assault (63% and 39%, respectively).
  • For the age groups where the data were sufficiently robust for comparison, there was no real difference in whether people with disability sought advice or support after the most recent incident of assault (49% for those aged 25–44; 51% for those aged 45–64).
  • There was no real difference between people with severe or profound disability (58%) and people with other disability (51%) in regard to whether they sought advice or support after the most recent incident or assault.

Latest results

Updated data are not yet available for this measure. Data from the 2021–22 ABS PSS will be included in the 2023 annual report.

Things to consider when interpreting results

  • The ABS PSS uses the ABS Short Disability Module to identify ‘disability or restrictive long-term health condition’.
  • The ABS PSS collects disability status at the time of the survey. It does not indicate whether a person had disability at the time of the reported incident of violence.
  • ABS PSS data exclude people living in institutional care settings, such as hospitals, nursing homes, aged care hostels and other cared accommodation.
  • Data are restricted to people with disability aged 18 and over who experienced sexual assault and/or physical assault less than 10 years ago (2016 data) or less than 20 years ago (2012 data). While the time period for the recall of the most recent incident differs between the 2 iterations of the survey, the data are considered generally comparable (ABS 2017b).
  • Analysis of data is based on the most recent incident of assault, regardless of assault type.
  • Questions about experiences of violence are not asked during proxy interviews. This means that a small number of people with a profound or severe communication disability or from a non-English-speaking background that prevents them from responding to survey questions themselves are excluded from the sensitive component of the ABS PSS survey (ABS 2017a).

Figure 4.2: Proportion of people with disability aged 18 and over who sought advice after experiencing assault, 2012 and 2016

These data show the proportion of adults with disability (aged 18 and over) who experienced assault and sought advice or support after the most recent incident. Data from 2012 and 2016 are used. In 2016, 51.6% of adults with disability reported seeking advice or support after the most recent incident of assault, compared with 56.9% in 2012.

Source: Australian Bureau of Statistics – Personal Safety Survey (PSS) | Data source overview | Data source overview

For more information on this measure, including breakdowns of the data, see Australia’s Disability Strategy Outcomes Framework | Seeking support following assault.

Previous page Safety from violence, abuse, neglect and exploitation
Next page Violence against women and their children