The majority of respondents, 60 per cent, believed it was unlikely they would become a victim of crime this year.
The results also showed that those who lived in urban areas were more likely to worry about burglary, robbery and harassment than those who lived in rural or regional areas.
And on the whole, women worried slightly more about crime than men – particularly when it came to harassment and burglary.
“Our results showed that intense and frequent worry about crime is relatively rare – 57 per cent of respondents reported they had not worried about any form of crime at all in the past 12 months,” co-author and Sydney Institute of Criminology professor, Murray Lee said.
Professor Lee said the research showed that activities like joining a community group, engaging with a local council and becoming involved in an online support group or campaign could help reduce people’s safety concerns.
“Our findings suggest that engaging in pro-social actions can be beneficial for individuals and, potentially, could build cohesion in communities where perceptions of safety are compromised,” he said.
“For example, more than 80 per cent of people who spoke to their neighbours about their fears reported they felt safer as a result. More than 70 per cent of people who sought advice or help from the police also felt safer as a result.”
The results come as the state records a 4.7 per cent rise in crime in the year to December 31, with more than 530,000 individual offences.
Areas including Melbourne, Yarra, Latrobe, Mildura and Greater Shepparton recorded the highest levels of crime, with robbery, stalking, harassment, theft and drug offences on the rise.
Professor Lee said he hoped his findings would help policymakers better target safety campaigns and encourage social cohesion.
“A couple of groups (we surveyed) were retired people who met regularly at a particular club and they had people from the government and police come in and chat. They told us that this was a really good thing and that they didn’t feel worried about crime because they and their friends were getting the information they needed in an area where they felt secure,” he said.
“We know quite often the politics of this is to react swiftly to community outcries about crime. What it tells us is that people do worry about crime, but, for the most part, it’s not directing the way we live our lives.
“We’re not walking out on the street thinking every day that we’re going to become a victim.”
Erin covers crime for The Age. Most recently she was a police reporter at the Geelong Advertiser.