Australian Bureau of Statistics

Rate the ABS website
ABS Home > Statistics > By Catalogue Number
ABS @ Facebook ABS @ Twitter ABS RSS ABS Email notification service
4720.0 - National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social Survey: Users' Guide, 2008  
Latest ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 26/02/2010   
   Page tools: Print Print Page Print all pages in this productPrint All RSS Feed RSS Bookmark and Share Search this Product

INCOME AND FINANCES


OVERVIEW

This chapter provides information on the following topics collected in the 2008 National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social Survey (NATSISS):


For information on accommodation costs refer to the Housing and mobility chapter.


HOUSEHOLD INCOME

The amount of income a person has access to is an important component of their economic resources. While income is usually received by individuals, it is normally shared between partners in a couple relationship and with any dependent children. To a lesser degree, there may be sharing with other members of the household. Even when there is no transfer of income between members of a household, nor provision of free or cheap accommodation, members are still likely to benefit from the economies of scale that arise from the sharing of dwellings.

In the 2008 NATSISS, household income is calculated from the income received by all of the household's usual residents aged 15 years and over. The household spokesperson provided this information on behalf of other household members, except where members were selected for personal interview. The following information was collected for each household member:
  • whether they received an income;
  • the source/s of income; and
  • the amount/s they received (pre-tax).

See Personal income for more information on the sources of income.


Household income deciles

Information on gross personal income (ie pre-tax income) for each member of the household was used to create household income. Household income data, both gross weekly cash and equivalised, are available in dollar amounts or in deciles. Deciles are groupings that result from ranking all households in the population in ascending order according to some characteristic, such as income, and then dividing the population into 10 equal groups, each comprising 10% of the estimated population. The first decile contains the bottom 10%, the second decile contains the next 10% and so on. Income deciles used in NATSISS are based on the distribution of total household income from all sources for the whole population (Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander households and non-Indigenous households), from the 2007-08 Survey of Income and Housing (SIH). Decile boundaries have been adjusted for inflation using the Consumer Price Index to account for enumeration period differences between 2008 NATSISS and 2007-08 SIH. The following table presents the dollar amount cut-offs for each decile.

HOUSEHOLD GROSS WEEKLY INCOME, by decile ranges

Decile
$

First
<= 333.50
Second
<= 556.50
Third
<= 775.50
Fourth
<=1 036.50
Fifth
<=1 322.50
Sixth
<=1 622.50
Seventh
<=1 988.50
Eighth
<=2 459.50
Ninth
<=3 284.50
Tenth
<=10 000.00




Equivalised household income

Equivalence scales are used to make adjustments to the actual incomes of households so that the relative wellbeing of households of differing sizes and compositions are able to be compared. For example, it would be expected that a two-person household would usually need more income than a lone person household, if the two households are to enjoy the same standard of living.

Equivalised income is calculated by deriving an equivalence factor according to the chosen equivalence scale, and then dividing income by the factor. The equivalence factor, derived using the 'modified OECD' equivalence scale, is determined by allocating the following points to each person in a household:
  • the first adult in the household is given a weight of 1 point;
  • each additional person aged 15 years or older is allocated 0.5 points; and
  • each child aged 0-14 years is allocated 0.3 points.

Equivalised household income is derived by dividing the total household income by a factor equal to the sum of the equivalence points allocated to the household members. The equivalised income of a lone person household is the same as its unequivalised income. The equivalised income of a household comprising more than one person lies between the total value and the per capita value of its unequivalised income.

When unequivalised household income is negative, such as when a loss is reported for an individual's unincorporated business or other investment income, and this loss is greater than the positive income from other sources, then equivalised household income is set to zero.

The following table presents the dollar amount cut-offs for each decile.

EQUIVALISED HOUSEHOLD GROSS WEEKLY INCOME, by decile ranges

Decile
$

First
<= 329.50
Second
<= 435.50
Third
<= 554.50
Fourth
<= 685.50
Fifth
<= 812.50
Sixth
<= 951.50
Seventh
<= 1 131.50
Eighth
<=1 380.50
Ninth
<=1 784.50
Tenth
<=10 000.00




Income not reported

If more than one contributing person record in a household had a value of 'Not known', then household income and derived income deciles were set to 'Not known/no income reported', as it was not possible to derive an accurate total. In the 2008 NATSISS, approximately 19% of all households had a not stated or not known income.

FINANCIAL STRESS

Measures of income and expenditure do not necessarily provide the whole story of people's capacity to maintain living standards and meet household needs. Households may choose to go without certain goods or services, draw down savings, or take on debts in order to maintain other spending or meet urgent financial commitments.

The 2008 NATSISS includes several measures which could be used to identify Indigenous households that were constrained in their activities because of a shortage of money or access to sufficient financial resources, including whether:
  • a household could raise $2,000 within a week in an emergency; and
  • any household members ran out of money for basic living expenses in the 12 months/2 weeks prior to interview; and
  • any household members ran out of money for basic living items in the 12 months prior to interview.

Also measured for households in the 12 months prior to interview were the:
  • selected strategies used to meet basic living expenses;
  • number of strategies used to meet basic living expenses;
  • number of times they had difficulty paying bills;
  • type of cash flow problems; and
  • number of types of cash flow problems.

These measures are described in more detail below.


Bill payments

The household spokesperson was asked whether they or other members of the household had any bill payments, such as electricity, gas, telephone or rent, taken directly from their income or bank account. Response were based on the following:
  • yes - income;
  • yes - bank account;
  • yes - both;
  • no; or
  • don't know.


Strategies used to meet basic living expenses

The household spokesperson was asked whether they or other members of the household experienced any of the following situations in the 12 months prior to interview because they didn't have enough money:
  • asked for money from friends or family;
  • asked for help from welfare or community organisations;
  • couldn't pay electricity, gas or telephone bills on time;
  • couldn't pay mortgage or rent on time;
  • couldn't pay car car registration or insurance on time;
  • couldn't pay the minimum payment on a credit card;
  • couldn't heat or cool their home;
  • pawned or sold something to get money;
  • missed meals;
  • used short term loans (eg personal loan);
  • ran up a tab (book up) at the local store;
  • gave somebody else access to their keycard;
  • anything else;
  • no/none of these; or
  • don't know.

More than one response could be provided. If at least one of the strategies used to meet basic living expenses related to the inability to pay utility bills, accommodation costs, car expenses or credit card repayments, the household spokesperson was asked the number of times there was difficulty paying bills in the 12 months prior to interview. Responses were based on the following:
  • once;
  • twice;
  • 3 to 5 times;
  • 6 to 9 times;
  • 10 to 19 times;
  • 20 times or more; or
  • don't know.

The two measures for strategies used include:
  • selected strategies used to meet basic living expenses in past 12 months; and
  • number of strategies used to meet basic living expenses.

Selected strategies used to meet basic living expenses include:
  • used short term loans;
  • pawned or sold something;
  • did not have meals;
  • sought assistance from welfare or community organisations;
  • sought assistance from friends or family;
  • ran up a tab (book up) at a local store;
  • gave someone else access to keycard;
  • no strategies used; or
  • not stated.

The number of strategies used is output numerically as a single value up to a maximum of 7.

Cash flow problems

Based on information provided about strategies used to meet basic living expenses, there are also two measures for cash flow problems:
  • types of cash flow problems in the past 12 months; and
  • number of types of cash flow problems.

Types of cash flow problems include:
  • could not pay electricity, gas or telephone bills on time;
  • could not pay mortgage or rent payments on time;
  • could not pay car car registration or insurance on time;
  • could not make minimum payment on credit card;
  • was unable to heat or cool home;
  • none of these; or
  • not stated.

The number of types of cash flow problems is output numerically as a single value up to a maximum of 5.


Ran out of money for basic living expenses and items

The household spokesperson was asked whether they or other members of the household had any days in the 12 months prior to interview when they ran out of money for food, clothing or bills (basic living expenses). If not, they were skipped to the question about raising emergency money. If there were days when any household members ran out of money, the spokesperson was asked if this had occurred in the 2 weeks prior to interview. They were also asked whether they or other members of the household had to go without food, clothing or put off paying bills (basic living items).


Ability to raise $2,000 within a week in an emergency

The household spokesperson was asked whether they or other members of the household could raise $2,000 within a week in an emergency. The reason for raising the money was left open to interpretation, with the object being to determine whether people thought their household had access to, or the ability to amass, these resources within a week for something important. An example might be to pay for an emergency operation and the money could have been obtained from any source such as savings or a loan. Responses could be yes, no or don't know.

PERSONAL INCOME

Income is important in understanding a person's economic and social well-being. The 2008 NATSISS collected information on a person's source/s of income and the amount/s received before tax was taken out. The household spokesperson provided limited information on household members aged 15 years and over who were not selected for a personal interview, including:
  • whether an income was received;
  • the source/s of income; and
  • the pre-tax amount/s received.

Selected persons aged 15 years and over were also asked their source/s of income and amount/s received, based on the following:
  • CDEP (Community Development Employment Project) (including Top-up);
  • wages and salary (includes own incorporated business);
  • profit or loss from own unincorporated business or share in a partnership;
  • profit or loss from rental property;
  • dividends or interest;
  • any government pension or allowance (including Abstudy and Family Tax Benefit, if these were received fortnightly);
  • child support or maintenance;
  • superannuation or annuity;
  • workers' compensation; or
  • any other regular source (excluding profit or loss from business, rent or investment).

A condensed list of responses provided up to 6 possible sources of income. See the data item list for more information.

For each source of income a person had received, the gross amount of income (before tax) for each source was requested. The income may have been provided as a dollar amount, or they may have responded that they did not know or did not want to answer.


principal source of income

A person's principal source of income was determined through a calculation based on all sources of income received. The principal source was determined based on the highest weekly amount received from a particular income source. The principal sources of personal income include:
  • CDEP;
  • wages and salary (including own incorporated business);
  • unincorporated business income;
  • property (rental income);
  • government pensions, allowances or benefits;
  • other sources.

A person may have had no sources of income or not stated (including not known) the amount received. Other sources includes:
  • child support or maintenance;
  • superannuation or annuity;
  • workers' compensation; or
  • any other regular source.


Government pensions, allowances or benefits

Information on government pensions or allowances was collected from selected persons aged 15 years and over. They was asked to select the type of assistance received from the following list:
  • Australian Age Pension;
  • Newstart Allowance;
  • Mature Age Allowance;
  • Service Pension (DVA);
  • Disability Support Pension (Centrelink);
  • Wife Pension;
  • Carer Payment;
  • Sickness Allowance;
  • Widow Allowance (Widow B Pension) (Centrelink);
  • Special Benefit;
  • Partner Allowance; or
  • Other government pension, allowance or benefit.

Only one of these types of benefits could be received for any single period. If a person was receiving one of these types of assistance, this was considered to be their principal pension or allowance.

Some types of assistance may be received at the same time, or in addition to, the principal pension or allowance outlined above. Therefore, people were asked whether they received any of the following:
  • Family Tax Benefit;
  • Parenting Payment;
  • Government Family Payment (not further defined);
  • Abstudy;
  • Youth Allowance;
  • Disability pension (DVA);
  • Carer Allowance;
  • War Widow's or Widower's Pension (DVA);
  • Overseas government pension, allowance or benefit; or
  • Other government pension, allowance or benefit.

More than one response could be provided.

Period of government support

People aged 15 years and over were asked about their reliance on and duration of government support. If a person said that a government pension, allowance or benefit had been their principal source of income in the two years prior to interview, they were asked the total length of time for which this was received. Responses could be provided in weeks, months or years, or they may have said they did not know. Responses were output numerically as a value ranging from 0 to 996 days, as well as ranged categories of months, based on the following:
  • less than 3 months;
  • 3 to less than 6 months;
  • 6 to less than 9 months;
  • 9 to less than 12 months;
  • 12 to less than 15 months;
  • 15 to less than 18 months;
  • 18 to less than 21 months; or
  • 21 months or more (to a maximum of 24 months).


Personal income deciles

Information on gross personal income (ie pre-tax income) is available as dollar amounts or in deciles. Deciles are groupings that result from ranking all persons in the population in ascending order according to some characteristic, such as income, and then dividing the population into 10 equal groups, each comprising 10% of the estimated population. The first decile contains the bottom 10%, the second decile contains the next 10% and so on. Income deciles used in NATSISS are based on the distribution of total personal income from all sources for the whole population (Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians and non-Indigenous Australians) aged 15 years and over, from the 2007-08 Survey of Income and Housing (SIH). Decile boundaries have been adjusted for inflation using the Consumer Price Index to account for enumeration period differences between 2008 NATSISS and 2007-08 SIH. The following table presents the dollar amount cut-offs for each decile.

PERSONAL GROSS WEEKLY INCOME, by decile ranges

Decile
$

First
<= 63.50
Second
<= 236.50
Third
<= 299.50
Fourth
<= 421.50
Fifth
<= 596.50
Sixth
<= 771.50
Seventh
<= 967.50
Eighth
<=1 218.50
Ninth
<=1 672.50
Tenth
<=10 000.00



Reporting of income amounts for family payments and other government pensions

This survey was designed to collect information on family payments and other government pensions for people living in remote areas. It was also designed to collect information on Family Tax Benefit (FTB) payments for people living in non-remote areas. In the non-remote questionnaire, an issue relating to the order of questions on personal income meant that some people may have provided information on their FTB payments twice.

People in non-remote areas were asked whether they received a government pension, allowance or benefit from a list of types provided. As the list did not include FTB payments, people may have selected 'Other government pension, allowance or benefit' as their response and then specified an FTB payment. These same people were also asked whether they currently received a Family Tax Benefit and the amount received.

This issue in the non-remote questionnaire led to some duplication of reported income. For example, income amounts were reported in the pension question but not the FTB question, or the same income amount was recorded for both questions. Where possible, office coding was undertaken to amend these discrepancies. Of the approximately 1,450 people who reported an FTB payment, around 20% were amended. Due to the way in which some people reported their income (eg separate amounts were not provided for pensions and FTB payments), it was not possible to amend all identified discrepancies. Of people who received an FTB payment, up to a further 4% were identified as having a discrepancy with their reported income. Given these issues, non-remote personal income, which includes government pensions, benefits and allowances (particularly FTB payments), should be used with caution.


Income not reported

If more than one contributing income item had a value of 'Not known', then totals derived from these items, such as 'Gross weekly personal income' were also set to 'Not known', as it was not possible to derive an accurate total. In the 2008 NATSISS, approximately 5% of persons aged 15 years and over had a not stated or not known income.

ACCESS TO MONEY

People aged 15 years and over were asked about their access to money. They were asked whether they had a bank or credit union account, either their own account or a joint account. If an account was held, the person was asked the methods they used to access their money, including:
  • over the counter at bank or credit union;
  • EFTPOS or ATM;
  • Internet banking;
  • phone banking;
  • over the counter at a post office; or
  • other method.

Using an ATM or the Internet to check an account balance was excluded. Transferring funds or paying bills via the Internet was included. The number of types of methods used for accessing money is output numerically as a single value up to a maximum of 6.

Bookmark and Share. Opens in a new window

Commonwealth of Australia 2014

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.