This paper uses data from an Australia-wide survey of victims of crime undertaken by the Australian Institute of Criminology (AIC) to examine the victimisation of older people. The survey was conducted in April 2000 in conjunction with the Australian component of the International Crime Victims Survey and had a sample size of 3,032 individuals, of which 1,246 were persons aged 65 years and over.
Older people have the lowest rates of crime victimisation when compared to the rest of the population. This is due to the unique nature of the social relationships and activities of older people. Consumer fraud is an important component of older people’s experiences with crime. Among older Australians, consumer fraud is 2.2 times more prevalent than assault, which is the most common of the violent offences. This contrasts with younger persons, among whom fraud is as common as assault.
Older people are not homogeneous in their risk of victimisation. Variations in victimisation risk among older people are explained by differences in their recreational activities in the evening and whether they are married. For example, older people who are separated or divorced are twice as likely as other older persons to be victims of crime.
Crime prevention should be tailored to specific types of victim. Among socially advantaged older people, initiatives to promote the adoption of security measures to protect household or personal property as well as safe recreational patterns may reduce risk. Among socially disadvantaged older people there is a need for enhanced community support in order to minimise the effects that isolation and vulnerability have on the risk of victimisation.