THE number of physical assaults in Australia jumped approximately 45% between 2010-11 and 2011-12, crime figures from the Australian Bureau of Statistics revealed on Tuesday.
And in the same period, the number of non face-to-face threats of assault - over the phone, by email and on social media - also jumped 25%.
National Centre for Crime and Justice Statistics director Fiona Dowsley said while the number of victims had not changed significantly over time, the number of individual assaults rose from 1.5 million assaults to 2.2 million between 2010-11 and 2011-12.
Similarly, Ms Dowsley could not attribute the rise in non face-to-face threats to any one source, but said it did include threats which Australian reported they received through social media, as well as telephone calls and email.
And while there as a significant rise in non face-to-face threats of assault, there were only 213,100 such threats in 2011-12, significantly lower than the number of actual assaults reported, at about 2.2 million. The latest data shows 3% of Australians older than 15 years were victims of physical assault in 2011-12, compared to 2.7% in 2010-11.
"The proportion of victims who experienced three or more incidents of physical assault increased from around a quarter of victims (26%) in 2010-11 to a third (33%) in 2011-12," Ms Dowsley said.
Ms Dowsley said an interesting aspect of the ABS figures was that it was collected by official contact with Australian households, helping to create a wider contextual picture of assaults and threats than state crime and justice bureaus recorded.
Ms Dowsley said about 49% of all incidents of physical assault in 2011-12 were reported to the police, either by the victim or someone else.
"Physical assaults include acts such as being pushed, grabbed, shoved, choked, shot, burnt, being hit with something such as a bat or being deliberately hit by a vehicle and could occur in public or in the home," Ms Dowsley said.
The ABS also reported personal crimes like face-to-face threatened assault, non face-to-face threatened assault, robbery and sexual assault, but only non face-to-face threatened assault rose in the year to 2011-12.
"In the household crime data, we found that only malicious property damage changed in the last year in Australia, decreasing from 722,800 victims in 2010-11 to 649,900 victims in 2011-12," Ms Dowsley said.