The re-release of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Alleged offender data and the release of Family incident data

The Crime Statistics Agency (CSA) is committed to working with community to support improved Aboriginal justice outcomes through the availability of statistics. The CSA has consulted with stakeholders and the community about the changes we have made and the resulting new data outputs. The Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander status data available on the website from 24 September includes the re-release of Alleged offender statistics and for the first time we are releasing Family incident statistics.

The release of increased Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander data supports the Victorian Aboriginal Justice Agreement Phase 4 (AJF4) outcome ‘Increased Aboriginal community ownership of and access to data’ and Dhelk Dja: Safe Our Way - Strong Culture, Strong Peoples, Strong Families (Aboriginal 10 Year Family Violence Agreement) priority five: Aboriginal-led and informed innovation, data and research.

We give our gratitude to the many Aboriginal people who generously contributed their wisdom, experience, expertise and cultural insights during the consultation. We also thank the Koori Justice Unit, Family Safety Victoria, the Dhelk Dja Aboriginal Justice Forums and Victoria Police, who all contributed to the outcomes of this work.


What Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander status data will be available?

After the withdrawal of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander status data from the CSA website in June 2019 the CSA worked closely with Victoria Police to implement solutions to improve the responses to the SIQ. The CSA has now assessed the data and determined that it is of sufficient quality to include in the quarterly Victorian crime statistics release. The Alleged offender and Family incident data will be included in the official crime statistics and available at the state level and for regions/local government areas. 

The data quality of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander status of victims of crime has improved but is not considered suitable for public release, it will only be available on request through the CSA data consultancy service. The CSA will continue to monitor the data quality and when it is consistently of sufficient quality it will be considered for inclusion in the official crime statistics. 


What is Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander status?

Victoria Police captures the Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander status of people in their LEAP database using the Standard Indigenous Question (SIQ). The CSA obtains this information from Victoria Police and can then use it to produce statistics for the state of Victoria. The quality of data provided by Victoria Police has now improved.


What has CSA changed?

The CSA reviewed the ‘most frequent’ counting rule and found that a small modification to the application of this rule resulted in substantial data quality improvements, including further reducing unknown values in the dataset. It was found that the CSA ‘most frequent’ counting rule code did not preference meaningful responses (‘yes’ or ‘no’) where ‘unknown’ is the most frequent response for an individual. The CSA has revised the application of the counting rule to preference ‘yes’ or ‘no’ values over ‘unknown’ values in the dataset and this resulted in substantial quality improvements in the dataset and across all CSA person-based statistical populations (Alleged offender incidents, Victim reports and Family Incidents – Affected family members and other parties).


What is the ‘most frequent’ rule and why is applied?

The SIQ responses that Victoria Police collect have historically contained many records with an ‘unknown’ response. Datasets that contain many unknown or missing values are deemed unfit for general use as the remaining data can potentially be misleading, potentially either over or understating the true numbers.

In 2016, the CSA consulted with the Aboriginal Justice Caucus and Aboriginal community on options to improve Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Victoria Police recorded data quality and outputs. This resulted in the CSA implementing the ‘most frequent’ counting rule in the year ending 30 June 2016 data release for Alleged offender incidents. For more information about this process please see the Consultation paper: Improving recorded crime statistics for Victoria’s Aboriginal community.

Under the most frequent counting rule, a person has a ‘yes’, ‘no’ or ‘unknown’ response to the SIQ, the most frequently appearing response meaningful response (‘yes’ or ‘no’) is taken as correct. If the person only has one meaningful response, then that response stands across all records, see Figure 1. If a person appears in the dataset two different times with a ‘yes’ and a ‘no’ in the records, a ‘yes’ response is taken over a ‘no’ response.


Figure 1. Example of the ‘most frequent’ counting rule from the Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander responses


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