Half of Australian women have been sexually harassed at some point in their lives, and 17 per cent within the last year, official data has revealed.
The Australian Bureau of Statistics survey of more than 21,000 people found the rate of harassment of women had increased 2 percent between 2012 and 2016.
Harassment of men also rose from 6.6 per cent to 9.3 per cent, the ABS reported.
“Young women aged 18 to 24 years were the most likely to experience sexual harassment, with around two in five (38 per cent or 421,400) reporting being sexually harassed in the past 12 months,” ABS program manager for household surveys Michelle Marquardt said on Wednesday.
While women were most likely to be sexually harassed by men, for men the perpetrators were just as likely to be female or male.
The most common types of harassment were inappropriate comments about their body or sex life, followed by unwanted touching, grabbing, kissing, fondling, indecent exposure, and indecent text messages, emails or by post.
The rise in sexual harassment complaints coincided with a continuing downward trend in rates of physical violence.
While two in five Aussies have endured some form of violence since they were 15, the proportion of men who experienced physical violence in the past year fell to 5.4 per cent in 2016 from 8.5 per cent four years earlier while for women the rate fell to 3.5 per cent from 4.6 per cent.
Young men aged 18-34 and women aged 18-24 were the most likely victims.
In terms of their most recent experience of physical violence, most men were attacked by a male stranger at an entertainment or recreation venue while nearly all women were assaulted at home by a male they knew.
Nearly two thirds of men and half of all women who were physically attacked by a male believed alcohol or another substance was a contributing factor.
Most did not report the incident to police.
While men and women are both more likely to experience physical violence than sexual, about four times as many women than men have endured sexual violence.
The ABS survey found a slight rise in the proportion of women who experienced sexual violence in the past 12 months, from 1.2 per cent in 2012 to 1.8 per cent in 2016.
Nine out of 10 women who were sexually assaulted by a male in the past year knew the perpetrator, usually their current or former partner.