4177.0 - Participation in Sports and Physical Recreation, Australia, 2005-06  
Previous ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 14/02/2007   
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1 This publication presents results on participation in sports and physical recreation from the 2005-06 Multi-Purpose Household Survey (MPHS) conducted each month throughout Australia as a supplement to the Labour Force Survey (LFS).

2 The MPHS is designed to provide annual statistics for a number of small, self-contained topics. In 2005-06 the topics were:

  • Participation in sports and physical recreation
  • Sports attendance
  • Attendance at selected culture and leisure venues and events
  • Work related injuries
  • Household use of information technology.

3 Data for other MPHS topics collected in 2005-06 will be released in separate publications.

4 The MPHS collected data on sports participation for persons aged 15 years and over. Sports participation data for those aged 18 years and over have been collected previously by the ABS in the Population Survey Monitor (from 1993 to 2000) and in the 2002 General Social Survey (GSS). Data from these surveys have been published in previous editions of Participation in Sport and Physical Activities, Australia (cat. no. 4177.0). The Survey of Disability, Ageing and Carers (2003) obtained information regarding whether persons aged 5 years and over with a disability had participated in sport or physical recreation away from home in the previous 12 months. Data from this survey have been published in Disability, Ageing and Carers: Summary of Findings, Australia 2003 (cat. no. 4430.0).

5 For all MPHS topics, information on labour force characteristics, education, income and other demographics is also available. In 2007, an expanded Confidentialised Unit Record File (CURF) will be released containing data from all topics.


6 The scope of the LFS is people aged 15 years and over except:

  • members of the permanent defence forces
  • certain diplomatic personnel of overseas governments, customarily excluded from census and estimated populations
  • overseas residents in Australia
  • members of non-Australian defence forces (and their dependants).

7 For the MPHS in 2005-06 the following people were also excluded:
  • people living in special dwellings such as hotels, university residences, etc.
  • students at boarding schools, patients in hospitals, residents of homes (e.g. retirement homes, homes for persons with disabilities), and inmates of prisons
  • visitors to private dwellings.

8 This MPHS was conducted in both urban and rural areas in all states and territories, but excluded persons living in very remote parts of Australia. The exclusion of these people is unlikely to impact on the state and territory estimates included in this publication, except the Northern Territory where residents of these areas account for approximately 22% of the total population.


9 In the LFS, coverage rules are applied which aim to ensure that each person is associated with only one dwelling and hence has only one chance of selection in the survey. See Labour Force, Australia (cat. no. 6202.0) for more details.


10 The MPHS is conducted as a supplement to the monthly LFS. Each month one eighth of the dwellings in the LFS sample are rotated out of the survey and one third of these dwelling are selected for the MPHS. In these dwellings, after the LFS has been fully completed for each person in scope and coverage, a person aged 15 years or over is selected at random (based on a computer algorithm) and asked the MPHS questions in a personal interview. If the randomly selected person is aged 15 to 17 years, permission is sought from a parent or guardian before conducting the interview. If permission is not given, the parent or guardian is asked the questions on behalf of the 15 to 17 year old. Data are collected using Computer Assisted Interviewing (CAI), whereby responses are recorded directly onto an electronic questionnaire in a notebook computer, usually during a telephone interview.

11 The sample was accumulated over a twelve month period from July 2005 to June 2006.

12 The publication Labour Force, Australia (cat. no. 6202.0) contains information about the design of the survey, scope, coverage and population benchmarks relevant to the monthly LFS. This information applies to the supplementary surveys and the MPHS. The publication also contains definitions of demographic and labour force characteristics, and information about telephone interviewing relevant to both the monthly LFS and supplementary surveys.


13 The initial sample for the 2005-06 MPHS was 18,846 private dwelling households. Of the 16,212 private dwelling households that remained in the survey after sample loss (for example, households selected in the survey which had no residents in scope for the LFS, vacant or derelict dwellings and dwellings under construction), approximately 14,219 or 88% fully responded to the MPHS.


14 Weighting is the process of adjusting results from a sample survey to infer results for the total in-scope population. To do this, a 'weight' is allocated to each sample unit which for the MPHS can be either a person or a household. The weight is a value which indicates how many population units are represented by the sample unit. The first step in calculating weights for each unit is to assign an initial weight, which is the inverse of the probability of being selected in the survey. The initial weights were calibrated to align with independent estimates of the population of interest, referred to as 'benchmarks'. Weights calibrated against population benchmarks ensure that the survey estimates conform to the independently estimated distribution of the population rather than the distribution within the sample itself.

15 The survey was benchmarked to the estimated civilian population aged 15 years and over, living in private dwellings in each state and territory (excluding very remote areas). The process of weighting ensures that the survey estimates conform to person benchmarks by state, part of state, age and sex and to household benchmarks by state, part of state and household composition. These benchmarks are produced from estimates of the resident population derived independently of the survey.

16 Survey estimates of counts of persons or households are obtained by summing the weights of persons or households with the characteristic of interest.


17 The estimates provided in this publication are subject to sampling and non-sampling errors.

18 Sampling error is the difference between the published estimates, derived from a sample of persons and the value that would have been produced if all persons in scope of the survey had been included. For more information refer to the Technical Note.

19 Non-sampling error may occur in any collection, whether it is based on a sample or a full count such as a census. Sources of non-sample error include non-response, errors in reporting by respondents, the recording of answers by interviewers and in the coding and processing of data. Every effort is made to reduce non-sampling error to a minimum by the careful design of questionnaires, intensive training of interviewers and effective processing procedures.


20 This publication presents details of persons who participated in a sport or recreational physical activity as a player or participant at least once during the 12 months before interview in 2005-06. The term 'participant' is defined as a player, competitor or person who physically undertakes the activity. Involvement by people who participated solely as coaches, umpires or club officials is excluded from the data.

21 The information on the frequency of participation shown in tables 4 and 8 was collected by asking respondents how many times they participated during the year, for each activity in which they participated. This was recorded in ranges of 1-6, 7-12, 13-26, 27-52, and more than 52 times per year. Information was also collected on the frequency of participation in all activities with two additional ranges of 53-104, and 105 times or more included.

22 The survey included a question about the months of participation in all activities. Information from this question was used with the data recorded on the frequency of participation in all activities to derive a measure of the regularity of participation. This is shown in table 5. The regularity items are:

  • Occasional participation - participated less than 12 times and participated from one to twelve months.
  • Infrequent - part year participation - participated from 13-52 times and participated from one to eleven months.
  • Infrequent - full year participation - participated from 13-52 times and participated in each month.
  • Frequent - part year participation - participated 53 times or more and participated from one to eleven months.
  • Once or twice a week participation - participated from 53-104 times and participated in each month.
  • More than twice a week participation - participated from 105 times or more and participated in each month.

23 No information was collected about the duration of participation, i.e. how many hours people participated in each reported activity. For example, walking participants may have taken short walks for exercise of less than half an hour, or they may have walked for longer periods. Similarly, no information was collected regarding the intensity in which the sport or physical activity was undertaken. For example, a cycling participant may have undertaken this activity at a leisurely pace or vigorously.

24 The survey also sought information about the reasons why people participated (motivators) and why they did not participate (perceived constraints on participation). The question on motivators was asked of all participants who participated in all activities for 13 or more times. Information on the constraints on participation was sought from those who did not participate at all and from those who participated in all activities for 12 times or less.

25 The questions were asked as 'open' questions, with respondents able to provide as many answers as they wished. These were then coded to a number of defined categories. Where more than one response was provided, i.e. more than one motivator or constraint, the respondent was subsequently asked to indicate the main motive or constraint.

26 The motivators were coded as:

  • Health/fitness
  • Well-being
  • Enjoyment
  • Social/family
  • Weight loss
  • Competition/challenge
  • Transport
  • Walk the dog
  • Other.

27 Constraints were coded as:
  • Age/too old
  • Ongoing injury/illness
  • Temporary injury/illness
  • Injury/illness (not further defined)
  • Already active
  • Not interested
  • Cost
  • Insufficient time due to work/study
  • Insufficient time due to family
  • Insufficient time, other
  • Other.


28 The previous edition of this publication contained information collected by the 2002 General Social Survey. Changes in methodology mean that it is not possible to compare the overall participation rates from the 2005-06 MPHS and the GSS as there were changes to the question wording and the actual collection method, both of which may have impacted on the results.

29 The MPHS question asked about physical activities or sports participated in during the last 12 months and then prompted the respondent as to whether participation was for sport; or for exercise or recreation. The GSS asked about any physical activities or sports participated in as either a participant, coach, official, umpire or administrator. Also the MPHS was conducted, in most cases, as a telephone survey, whereas the GSS was conducted as a face-to-face interview.

30 Respondents in both the MPHS and the GSS were asked about a range of social topics in addition to participation in sports and physical recreation. The number and subject of the topics was different in both surveys and the different context for the participation questions may have had some impact on the responses provided by respondents in each of the surveys.

31 It is not possible to determine the extent to which the differences between the 2005-06 MPHS and the 2002 GSS methodologies have contributed to any difference in results. However, it is likely that the two surveys are not comparable and therefore no comparisons of data from the two surveys have been made in this publication.


32 Due to differences in the scope and sample size of the MPHS and that of the LFS, the estimation procedure may lead to some small variations between labour force estimates from this survey and those obtained from the LFS.


33 The ABS will conduct the MPHS again during the 2006-07 financial year. The 2006-07 MPHS topics are:

  • Education and household income
  • Household use of information technology
  • Barriers and incentives to labour force participation
  • Retirement and retirement intentions
  • Family characteristics, transitions and history
  • Adult learning.

34 The MPHS is likely to be the main survey vehicle for the collection of future data on sports participation and the ABS is planning to collect data on this topic again in 2009-10. The scope of the survey is expected to remain as persons aged 15 years and over.


35 ABS surveys draw extensively on information provided freely by individuals, businesses, governments and other organisations. Their continued cooperation is very much appreciated. Without it, the wide range of statistics published by the ABS would not be available. Information received by the ABS is treated in strict confidence as required by the Census and Statistics Act 1905.


36 Other ABS publications containing information on sport, physical recreation and leisure activities include:

      Children's Participation in Cultural and Leisure Activities, Australia, 2006 (cat. no. 4901.0)
      Sports Attendance, Australia, 2005-06 (cat. no. 4174.0)
      Attendance at Selected Cultural Venues and Events, Australia, 2005-06 (cat. no. 4114.0)
      Sport and Recreation: A Statistical Overview, Australia, 2006 Edition 2 (cat. no. 4156.0)
      General Social Survey, Australia, 2002 (cat. no. 4159.0)
      Australian Culture and Leisure Classifications, 2001 (cat. no. 4902.0)
      How Australians Use Their Time, 1997 (cat. no. 4153.0).

37 Current publications and other products released by the ABS are listed in the Catalogue of Publications and Products (cat. no. 1101.0). The catalogue is available from any ABS office or the ABS website <http://www.abs.gov.au>. The ABS also issues a daily release advice on the web site which details products to be released in the week ahead.