Australian Bureau of Statistics

Rate this page
ABS Home > Methods & Standards > Directory of Statistical Sources by Topic
ABS @ Facebook ABS @ Twitter ABS RSS ABS Email notification service
Adult Literacy and Lifeskills Survey
   Page tools: RSS Feed RSS Bookmark and Share Search this Product

    Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS)

    The 2006 ALLS is the second literacy survey to be conducted by the ABS. In 1996, the Survey of Aspects of Literacy (SAL) was undertaken and about a third of its content has been repeated to enable trends to be monitored over time. The 2006 ALLS also includes new topics associated with social capital, literacy and numeracy practices and use of technologies.

    Enumeration of the 2006 ALLS is being conducted between June and December 2006. This period incorporates an eight week break for the 2006 Census of Population and Housing and associated Post Enumeration Survey (PES). Initial results are scheduled to become available in October 2007.

    The objectives of the 2006 ALLS are to measure elements of adult Australians' literacy and numeracy skills with the aim of:

    • identifying 'at risk' groups with low skill levels;
    • helping to evaluate literacy and numeracy assistance programs;
    • analysing the link between functional literacy and labour force participation;
    • identifying barriers to individuals achieving skill levels sufficient for daily life and work;
    • providing support for literacy related planning and decision making at national and state levels;
    • allowing comparisons of 2006 skill levels with those of 1996, after a significant period of 'flow through' from education and training systems, and increased emphasis on lifelong learning; and
    • allowing comparisons of Australians' literacy skills with those of other countries as 2006 ALLS results form part of the international Adult Literacy and Lifeskills Survey.


    The 2006 ALLS covers urban and rural areas across all States and Territories, and includes residents of private dwellings only. Visitors to private dwellings are excluded, as are persons in institutions such as hospitals and nursing homes and special dwellings such as hotels and boarding houses.

    The following persons living in Australia but not usually considered part of the resident population were excluded from the scope of the survey:

    • diplomatic personnel of overseas governments and non-Australian members of their households;
    • non-Australian service personnel stationed in Australia and their dependents; and
    • overseas visitors whose usual place of residence was outside Australia.

    Non-Australians (other than those above) working in Australia, or in Australia as students or settlers, and their dependents were included in the scope of the survey if they had lived, or intended to live in Australia for a period of 12 months or more.

    NOTE: Defence force personnel in Private Dwellings are included in this survey.

    The proposed sample size is approximately 9,000 fully responding persons aged 15-74 years. This sample size will allow for estimates of an acceptable quality at both the National and State/Territory levels.

    The precision requirements dictated by the International Consortium were relative standard errors (RSEs) of less than 16.5% for an estimate of proportion of 0.15, for subgroups at the national level. The ALLS sample will support the following:

    • RSEs of less than 14% for estimates of proportion equal to 0.15 for 15 subgroups at the national level.
    • RSEs of less than 25% for estimates of proportion equal to 0.5 for 10 subgroups for all states except NT.
    • RSEs of less than 25% for estimates of proportion equal to 0.5 for 5 subgroups for NT.


    Conceptual framework

    Not applicable

    Main outputs
    The 2006 ALLS collects data for persons aged from 15 to 74 resident in private dwellings.

    Information requirements comprise two components:

    • assessment of the skills of participants in prose and document literacy, numeracy, and analytical reasoning/problem solving
    • general demographic information and familiarity with information and communications technology.
    The assessment component will provide information on skills and attitudes in a number of different areas:
    • Prose literacy - the knowledge and skills needed to understand and use information from text including editorials, news stories, poems and fiction
    • Document literacy - the knowledge and skills required to locate and use information contained in various formats including job applications, payroll forms, transportation schedules, maps, tables and graphics
    • Numeracy - the knowledge and skill required to effectively manage the mathematical demands of diverse situations
    • Problem solving - the knowledge and skills required to identify a problem, search for relevant information and integrate it into a coherent problem representation, evaluating the problem situation with respect to given goals and criteria, devising a plan and monitoring its execution.
      The background information has the following broad elements:
      • General information - age, sex, state, country of birth, year of arrival
      • Linguistic information - first language spoken, main language spoken at home, English language skills
      • Parental information - country of birth, occupation, education
      • Labour Force activities -
      • labour force status
      • occupation and industry for principal work
      • job tenure
      • earnings
      • Literacy and numeracy practices at work and general -
      • frequency in reading and writing activities
      • frequency in using public libraries, visiting a bookstore
      • frequency in television viewing
      • Participation in education and learning -
      • incidence of education and learning
      • reasons for pursuing education and learning
      • volume of education/training undertaken
      • Social capital and well-being
      • volunteering, civic participation
      • Information and communications technology
      • types and usage
      • computer use - purposes and intensity
      • internet use - purposes and intensity
      • access, self assessment of skills
      • Household composition and income


      The survey uses ABS standards for major variables where possible. In addition, data can be produced according to the International classifications of: Education (ISCED), Industry (ISIC) and Occupation (ISCO).

      Other concepts (summary)

      The concepts underlying literacy levels are complex, inquiries should be directed to the ABS' National Centre for Education and Training Statistics.

      New South Wales
      South Australia
      Western Australia
      Northern Territory
      Section of State

      Comments and/or Other Regions

      The 2006 ALL sample was drawn from urban and rural areas in all States and Territories. Sparsely settled areas were excluded (ie very remote and the Indigenous communities frame).


      Frequency comments
      The 2006 ALLS is the second literacy survey to be conducted by the ABS. In 1996, the Survey of Aspects of Literacy (SAL) was undertaken and about a third of its content has been repeated to enable trends to be monitored over time. The 2006 ALLS also includes new topics associated with social capital, literacy and numeracy practices and use of technologies.


      ActivityExpected timing
      2006 ALLS Dress rehearsalNovember 2005 to January 2006
      User Guide releasedOctober 2007
      Summary publication releasedOctober 2007
      Special data services availableOctober 2007
      State/National table sets released November 2007
      CURF releasedDecember 2007
      Technical paper releasedDecember 2007


      Data availability comments

      2006 ALLS Dissemination timetable

      Expected timing
        User Guide released
      October 2007
        Summary publication released
      October 2007
        Special data services available
      October 2007
        State/National table sets released
      November 2007
        CURF released
      December 2007
        Technical paper released
      December 2007

      29/05/2007 05:13 PM

    Bookmark and Share. Opens in a new window

    Commonwealth of Australia 2016

    Unless otherwise noted, content on this website is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 2.5 Australia Licence together with any terms, conditions and exclusions as set out in the website Copyright notice. For permission to do anything beyond the scope of this licence and copyright terms contact us.