The Lucky Country Doesn’t Feel like the “Safe” Country

Now more than ever before, Australians are worried about cyber security, sexual assault and terrorism.

More than a third of Australians feel unsafe at any time with cybercrime top of the list of safety concerns, according to this year’s Australian Security Confidence Index (ASCI 2022).

These shocking findings are even worse at night when more than half of all Australians (51%) feel unsafe at night.

The findings are especially significant in this election year and political parties, keen to win government, will have to address Australians’ feelings about their own safety and that of their families, their businesses and the nation.

The annual study, commissioned by the Australian Security Industry Association Ltd (ASIAL), surveyed 1,600 Australians nationwide from all walks of life about their security concerns in a range of contexts, at home, the workplace, online activities and in public.

The study reveals the depth of feeling Australians have for their security in an increasingly uncertain and security-conscious world.

Nielsen IQ found that key security concerns focus on cyber threats, which is now the number 1 security fear for 44% of Australians.

Key concerns are being vulnerable to cyber attack when shopping from foreign retailers online and using social media and these concerns are higher when using work computers.

ASIAL Vice President Rachael Saunders said that this sends a clear message to governments and business.  “The key element in the term ‘Cyber Security’ is the word ‘Security’ and there is a clear need to build Australia’s cyber resilience”.

“Ensuring the probity and competence of those providing cyber security advice and support is vital. This has clear policy and regulatory implications for governments and the security industry alike,” she said.

Fear of sexual assault has also increased significantly since last year in the wake of highly-publicised assaults committed against women.

The significant growth in this has been driven by NSW/ACT residents and those in metro areas.

Fear of robbery has increased especially for WA residents – now up to 29% (19% in 2021).

Assault fears are also up with women aged 18-24 and foreign (particularly Indian) students most likely to feel at risk.

Researchers were surprised by an increase in terrorism awareness and concerns, especially among younger people, which comes amidst the rapidly deteriorating situation in the Ukraine.

Feeling unsafe from terrorist attacks has increased with almost a quarter of young Australians feeling unsafe (13% in 2021 to 24% in 2022) and 19% of Queenslanders feeling unsafe (up from 12% in 2021).

ASIAL CEO Bryan de Caires said that the ASCI 2022 reinforces the findings of last year’s Security 2025 Report which highlighted key security issues in coming years.

“With just one in five Australians feeling ‘very safe’ in their day to day lives, the clear message to politicians is that more needs to be done to build security capability and capacity,” he said.

ASCI 2022 is available free for viewing and download from the ASIAL website.

Steve Cropper is Industry Affairs Officer for the Australian Security Industry Association Ltd.