4714.0 - National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social Survey, 2014-15  
Latest ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 28/04/2016   
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EXPLANATORY NOTES

Introduction

1 This publication presents summary results from the 2014–15 National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social Survey (NATSISS), which was conducted throughout Australia, including remote areas, from September 2014 to June 2015. This is the fourth social survey of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians conducted by the ABS. The previous NATSISS was conducted in 2008 and the first survey, the National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Survey (NATSIS), was conducted in 1994.

2 A significant contribution towards the funding of the 2014-15 NATSISS was provided by the Commonwealth Department of Health. A contribution was also made by the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet.

3 Throughout this release, the term 'Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander' refers to all persons who identified themselves as being of Aboriginal, Torres Strait Islander, or both Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander origin. Information presented on Aboriginal persons includes data on persons identified as having both Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander origin. Similarly, information on Torres Strait Islanders also includes persons identified as having both Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander origin. An Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander household refers to all households with at least one Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander usual resident.

4 The 2014–15 NATSISS collected information on a range of demographic, social, environmental and economic characteristics. This release presents summary tables by four population groups:

    • Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander persons aged 15 years and over;
    • Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children aged 0–14 years;
    • Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children aged 4–14 years; and
    • Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children aged 0–3 years.

5 This release also includes summary tables which will enable:
    • some time-series comparisons of this survey to the 2002 and 2008 National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social Surveys (NATSISS); and
    • some non-Indigenous comparisons of this survey to the 2014 General Social Survey (GSS), the 2014–15 National Health Survey (NHS), the 2013–14 Survey of Income and Housing (SIH) and the 2014 Survey of Education and Work (SEW) .

6 Where appropriate, additional comparisons between the surveys have been included in the summary text.

7 Further information on the comparisons to the 2008 NATSISS is provided in Appendix 1, and Appendix 2 provides information on the comparisons to other sources.

8 Explanations of terms and concepts are provided in the Glossary and a list of the survey's data items has been released in spreadsheet format with this publication via the Downloads tab.

9 Further information to assist in the interpretation of the survey will be provided in the National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social Survey: Users' Guide, 2014-15 (cat. no. 4720.0), planned for release in May 2016, and referred to throughout this publication as the 'Users' Guide'.

Scope and coverage of the survey

10 The scope of the survey is all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people who were usual residents of private dwellings in Australia. Private dwellings are houses, flats, home units and any other structures used as private places of residence at the time of the survey. People usually resident in non-private dwellings, such as hotels, motels, hostels, hospitals, nursing homes, and short-stay caravan parks were not in scope. Usual residents are those who usually live in a particular dwelling and regard it as their own or main home.

11 Further scope exclusions for this survey were:
    • non-Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander persons;
    • non-Australian diplomats, diplomatic staff and members of their household;
    • members of non-Australian defence forces stationed in Australia and their dependents; and
    • overseas visitors.

12 The survey excluded visitors to private dwellings, except for those that had been resident for six months or longer. Visitors who were a usual resident of another dwelling in scope of the survey had a chance of being selected in the survey at that dwelling, or if not selected, would have been represented by similar persons who were selected in the survey.

13 The 2014–15 NATSISS was conducted in remote and non-remote areas in all states and territories of Australia, including discrete Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities.

14 Coverage exclusions apply to those people who were part of the in-scope population, but who were not included in the sampling frame (based on where Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander households were identified in the 2011 Census of Population and Housing). The coverage exclusions, made to manage enumeration costs, included:
    • Statistical Area Level 1 (SA1s) with no Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander households;
    • some SA1s in remote and very remote areas with a small number of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander households; and
    • some discrete Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities with a small number of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander households.

15 These coverage exclusions result in an estimated undercoverage of approximately 6% of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander persons in Australia. Although these areas were not enumerated, the final sample was weighted to population benchmarks to account for these exclusions. Further information on undercoverage is provided in paragraph 68 and more information on the scope and coverage of the survey will be provided in the Users' Guide, planned for release in May 2016.

16 Population benchmarks, which align with the survey scope, are based on projections of the latest available Estimated Resident Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Population (ERP), which in this case are for 30 June 2011. The ERP data are based on the 2011 Census of Population and Housing, adjusted by the 2011 Post-Enumeration Survey (PES). More information on the methodology used to produce the projected resident Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander population is available from Estimates and Projections, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians, 2001 to 2026 (cat. no. 3238.0).

17 The projected resident Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander population at 31 December 2014, excluding those living in non-private dwellings, was 686,800.

Sample design

18 The 2014–15 NATSISS was designed to produce reliable estimates at the national level and for each state and territory. The sample was allocated to produce estimates with a relative standard error (RSE) of no more than 25% for NSW, Vic, Qld, SA, WA, Tas and NT, for characteristics that at least 3% of these populations would possess. For the ACT and the Torres Strait Area, estimates for characteristics possessed by at least 6% of the population were required to have an RSE no greater than 25%. In addition, for selected states and territories (NSW, Qld, WA and NT) the sample for children aged 0–14 years was allocated to produce estimates that have an RSE of no greater than 25% for characteristics that at least 5% of these populations would possess. The survey was also designed to provide reliable estimates at the national level for children aged 0–3 years and 0–14 years, with the same RSE requirements.

19 As with previous ABS Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander surveys, additional sample was collected in the Torres Strait Area, to ensure data of sufficient quality would be available for the Torres Strait Area and the remainder of Queensland.

20 Funding was received from the Commonwealth Department of Health to enable the continued collection of data on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children aged 0–14 years. Funding was also received from the Department of the Prime Minster and Cabinet to enable the collection of new information relating to 'community strength and leadership'.

21 The survey design incorporated 'community' and 'non-community' samples. The community sample consisted of discrete Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities (including any out-stations associated with them). The non-community sample consisted of dwellings in areas not covered by the community sample. The samples for community and non-community areas were designed separately, with each involving a multistage sampling process. In both samples attempts were made to minimise overlap with previous ABS surveys, to manage respondent burden.

22 The community sample was obtained from a random selection of discrete Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities and out-stations using a specially developed Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Community Frame. This frame was constructed using counts from the 2011 Census of Population and Housing and information collected in the 2012–13 National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Survey (NATSIHS). From this frame, 73 Community Sets (containing one main community and zero or more out-stations) were selected for enumeration. A random selection of dwellings was made within the selected communities and out-stations, with different selection procedures applied to the main communities and out-stations. Within each selected dwelling in remote areas, up to one Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander adult (aged 15 years or over) and up to one Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander child (aged 0–14 years) was randomly selected to participate in the survey. In non-remote areas, up to two adults and up to two children were randomly selected to participate in the survey.

23 In non-community areas, dwellings were selected using a stratified multistage area sample. Mesh Block level information within SA1s was used to assist in targeting Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. A sample of SA1s were randomly selected, with the likelihood of selection based on the number of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander dwellings recorded in the area for the 2011 Census. Some areas with small numbers of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander persons according to Census data were excluded from the frame to improve the sampling efficiency and the number of households screened. This approach significantly reduced screening effort in areas of low Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander density, such as major capital cities. In SA1s with a large expected population of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander persons (based on Census 2011 data), a systematic sample of dwellings (using a skip) was screened rather than every dwelling. For each randomly selected dwelling, one usual resident aged 18 years or over was asked whether anyone in the household was of Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander origin. This screening question was used to identify Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander households, from which the sampling process was undertaken. Within each selected dwelling in remote areas, up to one Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander adult (aged 15 years and over) and up to one Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander child (aged 0–14 years) was randomly selected to participate in the survey. In non-remote areas, up to two adults and up to two children were randomly selected to participate in the survey.

24 After screening and sample loss (due to households with no residents in scope for the survey or where dwellings proved to be vacant, under construction or derelict) a total of 8,235 dwellings were approached for an interview. Of these eligible dwellings, 80% responded fully (or adequately) which yielded a total sample from the survey of 6,611 dwellings. An adequately responding household was defined as a household where at least one of the persons selected for the survey completed their interview.

25 After screening households in remote non-community areas, approximately 13% were identified as having an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander usual resident. Of these households, 77% responded to the survey. This response rate does not take into account approximately 4.4% of households who were unable to be contacted after screening. In non-remote areas, approximately 2.4% of screened households were identified as Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander households, with a response rate of 78% and 5.4% of households unable to be contacted.

26 In remote communities, 89% of in-scope households were fully or adequately responding. This response rate for non-remote communities was 73% of in-scope households.

27 Some survey respondents provided most of the required information, but were unable or unwilling to provide a response to certain data items. The records for these persons were retained in the sample and the missing values were recorded as 'don't know' or 'not stated'. No attempt was made to deduce or impute for these missing values. An exception of this is for household income, refer to paragraphs 105-106 for more information.

28 Further information on sample design will be provided in the Users' Guide, planned for release in May 2016.

Remoteness

29 The Australian Standard Geographical Standard (ASGS) is used by the ABS for the collection and dissemination of geographically classified statistics. For the purposes of the 2014–15 NATSISS, Australia is divided into five remoteness categories:
    • Major cities of Australia;
    • Inner regional Australia;
    • Outer regional Australia;
    • Remote Australia; and
    • Very remote Australia.

30 These categories are based on the Accessibility/Remoteness Index of Australia (ARIA), which measures the remoteness of a point based on the physical road distance to the nearest urban centre.

31 For this release, the remoteness categories are generally presented as:
    • Non-remote (includes major cities, inner and outer regional areas); and
    • Remote (includes remote and very remote areas).

32 More information on the ASGS is available in the Australian Statistical Geography Standard (ASGS), July 2011: Volumes 1 to 5 (cat. no.s 1270.0.55.001 to 1270.0.55.005).

Data Collection

33 Experienced ABS interviewers undertook personal interviews at selected private dwellings. Interviews were predominantly conducted using a Computer-Assisted Interviewing (CAI) questionnaire. CAI involves the use of a notebook computer to record, store, manipulate and transmit the data collected during interviews.

34 Prior to enumeration, ABS interviewers participated in cultural awareness training, which provided information specifically developed for surveys involving Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. The training outlined the ABS protocol for conducting surveys in community areas and described cultural considerations for interviewers.

35 In non-remote areas, questions on substance use were self-enumerated using CAI on the interviewer's notebook computer. In remote areas, questions on substance use were asked by interviewers, as part of the CAI questionnaire.

36 To take account of language and cultural differences in remote areas, the collection method varied for remote and non-remote areas. Some questions were re-worded to enhance respondent understanding of the concepts (eg types of disabilities or long-term health conditions). Additionally, the survey content in remote areas excluded topics for which data quality was considered problematic to collect or not applicable.

37 Since the survey content sometimes differed in remote/non-remote areas, not all data items are available for the total Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander population. In the data item list, data collected only in non-remote, or remote areas, is noted as such. There are also data items which have been adjusted to allow for remote and non-remote comparisons, which are denoted as such. For more information refer to the data item list released in spreadsheet format with this publication via the Downloads tab.

38 In communities, where possible, ABS interviewers were accompanied by local Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander facilitators who assisted in the conduct of the interviews. The facilitators explained the purpose of the survey, introduced the interviewers, assisted in identifying usual residents of a household and in locating residents who were not at home. They may have also assisted respondents to understand the survey questions. A Community Information Form (CIF) was also used to collect general information from the Community Council Office to assist in the conduct of interviews in community areas. This process was used to collect data on facilities available to the community.

39 One person in the household, aged 18 years or over, provided basic household information, including Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander status, age, sex and relationships, for all household members. This person, or an elected household spokesperson, also answered some financial and housing questions, such as income, tenure arrangements, community and household facilities. In discrete Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities, information on community facilities was provided by the Community Council Office.

40 Personal interviews were conducted with selected Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander persons aged 15 years and over. Exceptions occurred where the selected person:
    • was unable to complete the survey due to injury or illness (a proxy interview may have been arranged);
    • was mourning the death of a family member (Sorry Business); or
    • did not have sufficient English skills and an interpreter was unable to be arranged.

41 Where consent for interview was not given by a parent or guardian of an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander person aged 15–17 years, an interview was not conducted.

42 Proxy interviews were used to collect information on selected Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children aged 0–14 years. Where possible, the proxy was a parent or guardian. If no parent or guardian was available, the proxy was a close relative or other household member who had responsibility for the child.

43 More information on data collection will be provided in the Users' Guide, planned for release in May 2016.

44 A copy of the survey questionnaire in PDF format is available via the Downloads tab with this release.

Survey content

45 Broadly, the 2014–15 NATSISS collected information on a range of demographic, social, environmental and economic characteristics of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, including:
personal and household characteristics;
    • geography (eg state/territory and remoteness area);
    • cultural attachment (eg language and participation in cultural activities);
    • family and community experiences (eg social networks, contact and support);
    • health (eg disability or long-term conditions, risk factors, child and maternal health);
    • housing (eg tenure type and available facilities);
    • education;
    • labour force characteristics;
    • income and financial stress;
    • use of technology;
    • transport; and
    • crime and justice.

46 A full list of data items from the survey has been released in spreadsheet format with this publication, and is available via the Downloads tab.

47 The survey was developed in consultation with numerous stakeholders, including representatives from Commonwealth and State/Territory government agencies, welfare and research agencies, peak Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander groups or research bodies, academics and prominent Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander researchers.

Data processing

48 A combination of clerical and computer based systems were used to process data from the 2014–15 NATSISS. The content of the data file was checked to identify unusual values which may have significantly altered estimates and also to assess illogical relationships not previously identified by edits. More information on data processing will be provided in the Users' Guide, planned for release in May 2016.

Weighting, benchmarking and estimation

Weighting

49 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 corresponding to the level at which population statistics are produced. For example, at person or household level. The weight can be considered an indication of how many population units are represented by the sample unit. For the 2014–15 NATSISS, separate person and household weights were developed.

Selection weights

50 The first step in calculating weights for each person or household is to assign an initial weight, which is equal to the inverse of the probability of being selected in the survey. For example, if the probability of being selected in the survey was 1 in 45, then the person would have an initial weight of 45 (that is, they would represent 45 people).

Benchmarking

51 The person and household weights were separately calibrated to 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 distributions of the population rather than to the distribution within the sample itself. Calibration to population benchmarks helps to compensate for over- or under-enumeration of particular categories which may occur due to either the random nature of sampling, non-response, non-identification or various other undercoverage factors. This process can reduce the sampling error of estimates and may reduce the level of undercoverage bias.

52 More information on undercoverage is provided in paragraph 68.

53 A standard approach in ABS household surveys is to calibrate to population benchmarks by state, part of state, age and sex. In terms of the effectiveness of 'correcting' for potential undercoverage bias, it is assumed that the characteristics being measured by the survey for the covered population are similar to the uncovered population within weighting classes, as determined by the benchmarking strategy. Where this assumption does not hold, biased estimates may result.

54 For this survey, person weights were simultaneously calibrated to the following population benchmarks:
    • state by remoteness area;
    • state by sex by age group;
    • remoteness area by sex by age group
    • state by remote community status; and
    • Torres Strait Islander status by Torres Strait Island Region by adult status (where an adult is aged 15 years and over).

55 The survey was benchmarked to the estimated Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander resident population living in private dwellings at 31 December 2014. This estimated population is based on projections of the latest available Estimated Resident Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Population (ERP) data at June 2011. More information on the calculation of projections is provided in Estimates and Projections, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians, 2001 to 2026 (cat. no. 3238.0). As people in non-private dwellings (eg hotels) are excluded from the scope of the survey, they have also been excluded from the survey benchmarks. Therefore, the 2014–15 NATSISS estimates do not (and are not intended to) match estimates for the total resident Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander population obtained from other sources.

56 While estimates shown in this release are generally based on person weights, household weights were also derived by calibrating the household weights to align with the person-level benchmarks, as there are no available Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander household benchmarks. Data at the household level is available on request. See Products and services.

Estimation

57 Estimates of counts of persons are obtained by summing person weights of persons with the characteristic of interest. The estimates presented in this release are based on benchmarked person weights.

58 To minimise the risk of identifying individuals in aggregate statistics, a technique called perturbation is used to randomly adjust cell values. Perturbation involves a small random adjustment of the statistics and is considered the most satisfactory technique for avoiding the release of information that could identify individual survey respondents while maximising the range of information that can be released. These adjustments have a negligible impact on the underlying pattern of the statistics. After perturbation, a given published cell value will be consistent across all tables. However, adding up cell values to derive a total will not necessarily give the same result as published totals. More information on weighting, benchmarking and estimation will be provided in the Users' Guide, planned for release in May 2016.

Reliability of Estimates

59 All sample surveys are subject to error which can be broadly categorised as either:
    • sampling error; or
    • non-sampling error.

60 Sampling error occurs because only a small proportion of the total population is used to produce estimates that represent the whole population. Sampling error can be reliably measured as it is calculated based on the scientific methods used to design surveys.

61 Non-sampling error may occur in any data collection, whether it is based on a sample or a full count (eg Census). Non-sampling error may occur at any stage throughout the survey process. For example, persons selected for the survey may not respond (non-response); survey questions may not be clearly understood by the respondent; responses may be incorrectly recorded by interviewers; or there may be errors in coding or processing survey data.

Sampling error

62 Sampling error is the expected random difference that could occur between the published estimates, derived from using a sample of persons, and the value that would have been produced if all persons in scope of the survey had been enumerated. A measure of the sampling error for a given sample estimate is provided by the standard error, which may be expressed as a percentage of the estimate (relative standard error). For more information refer to the Technical Note.

63 In this release, estimates with relative standard errors (RSEs) of 25–50% and greater than 50% have been annotated. Estimates with RSEs of 25–50% should be used with caution and those with RSEs greater than 50% are considered too unreliable for most purposes.

Non-sampling error

64 Every effort was made to minimise non-sampling error by:
    • careful design and testing of questionnaires;
    • intensive training of interviewers; and
    • extensive editing and quality control procedures at all stages of data processing.

65 An advantage of the Computer-Assisted Interview (CAI) used for this survey is that it potentially reduces non-sampling errors by enabling edits to be applied as the data are being collected. These edits allow the interviewer to query respondents and resolve issues during the interview. Sequencing of questions is also automated so that respondents are asked only relevant questions and only in the appropriate sequence, eliminating interviewer sequencing errors.

66 Analysis was also undertaken to compare the characteristics of respondents to the 2014–15 NATSISS with a number of ABS collections to ascertain data consistency. Sources for comparison included:
    • 2011 Census of Population and Housing;
    • 2012–13 National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Survey; and
    • 2008 National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social Survey.

67 Further information on undercoverage and non-response is provided in the following paragraphs. More detailed information on non-sampling error will be provided in the Users' Guide, planned for release in May 2016.

Undercoverage

68 Undercoverage is one potential source of non-sampling error and is the shortfall between the population represented by the achieved sample and the in-scope population. It can introduce bias into the survey estimates. However, the extent of any bias depends upon the magnitude of the undercoverage and the extent of the difference between the characteristics of those people in the coverage population and those of the in-scope population.

69 Undercoverage rates can be estimated by calculating the difference between the sum of the initial weights of the sample and the population count. If a survey has no undercoverage, then the sum of the initial weights of the sample would equal the population count (ignoring small variations due to sampling error). For more information on weighting refer to paragraph 49.

70 In the 2014–15 NATSISS, there was a relatively large level of undercoverage when compared to other ABS surveys. The level of coverage (approximately 38%) was similar to that of the 2012–13 National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Survey (NATSIHS).

71 The overall undercoverage rate is approximately 62% of the population at the national level, an increase compared to the 2008 NATSISS, which had an undercoverage rate of approximately 53%. The undercoverage rate varies across the states and territories, with a rate of up to 69% in Victoria. Of the national rate, 6% is due to planned frame exclusions where analysis has shown that the impact of any bias is minimal. More information on these exclusions is provided below.

72 Given the high undercoverage rate, the analysis undertaken to ensure that results from the 2014–15 NATSISS were consistent with other data sources was more extensive than usual. Examples of the sources used for consistency checks are outlined in paragraph 66.

73 Potential bias due to undercoverage was addressed by the application of an adjustment to the initial weights. The weights were calibrated to population benchmarks to account for the undercoverage at the various calibration levels.

74 More information on the measures taken to address potential bias will be provided in the Users' Guide planned for release in May 2016.

75 Undercoverage may occur due to a number of factors, including:
    • frame exclusions (areas being removed from the sampling frame);
    • non-response;
    • non-identification as Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander; and
    • issues arising in the field.

76 Each of these factors are outlined in more detail in the following paragraphs. To assist interpretation, a diagrammatical representation of the potential sources of undercoverage is also provided.
Figure 1. Explanatory notes: 2014–15 NATSISS potential sources of undercoverage



Frame exclusions

77 Frame exclusions were incorporated into the 2014–15 NATSISS to manage the cost of enumerating areas with a small number of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander persons. In non-community areas this included mesh blocks and SA1s with small numbers of Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander persons and resulted in approximately 5.9% of Indigenous households excluded from the non-community frame. In the community sample some small communities were excluded. The minimum allowable community size varied by State and Territory and at the national level the undercoverage on the community frame was estimated to be about 2.8% of the community population.

78 At the national level it is estimated that 6.3% of the in-scope population was excluded from the frame due to these exclusion rules.

Non-response

79 Non-response may occur when people cannot or will not cooperate, or cannot be contacted. Unit and item non-response by persons/households selected in the survey can affect both sampling and non-sampling error. The loss of information on persons and/or households (unit non-response) and on particular questions (item non-response) reduces the effective sample and increases both sampling error and the likelihood of incurring response bias.

80 To reduce the level and impact of non-response, the following methods were adopted in this survey:
    • face-to-face interviews with respondents;
    • local Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander facilitators were employed to assist with interviewing in communities;
    • follow-up of respondents if there was initially no response; and
    • ensuring the weighted file is representative of the population by aligning the estimates with population benchmarks.

81 In the 2014–15 NATSISS, non-response accounts for a portion of overall undercoverage. The two components of non-response were:
    • non-response to the screening question; and
    • non-response to the survey after identification of an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander household.

82 Of the households screened in non-community areas, approximately 78% of households responded.

83 Of households in non-community areas who responded to the screening question, approximately 3.0% were identified as having an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander usual resident. Of these identified households, 78% were fully or adequately responding households to the survey.

84 In discrete Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities, 89% of selected in-scope households were fully or adequately responding.

Non-identification as Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander

85 Non-identification of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander households during the screening process may have occurred due to:
    • Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people not identifying themselves as Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander (passive refusals); or
    • the household spokesperson being unaware of (or unwilling to provide) the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander status of other residents.

86 The under-identification of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander persons in non-community areas is estimated to be up to 19% of the estimated Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander population in the selected sample. This estimate is the remaining level of undercoverage before screening when sample loss and screening response rates have been removed.

Issues arising in the field

87 Known undercoverage, due to other issues arising in the field, included sample being excluded due to occupational, health and safety issues.

Seasonal Effects

88 The estimates in this publication are based on information collected from September 2014 to June 2015, and due to seasonal effects they may not be fully representative of other time periods in the year. For example, the 2014–15 NATSISS asked people about face to face contact with family or friends living outside the household in the three months prior to interview. This may require travel for some people, and may be subject to seasonal variation through the year for reasons such as climate in northern Australia. Therefore, the results could have differed if the survey had been conducted over the whole year or in a different part of the year.

Interpretation of results

89 Care has been taken to ensure that the results of this survey are as accurate as possible. All interviews were conducted by trained ABS officers. Extensive reference material was developed for use and intensive training was provided to interviewers. There remain, however, other factors which may have affected the reliability of results, and for which no specific adjustments can be made. The following factors should be considered when interpreting these estimates:
    • information recorded in this survey is 'as reported' by respondents, and therefore may differ from information available from other sources or collected using different methodologies;
    • responses may be affected by imperfect recall or individual interpretation of survey questions; and
    • some respondents may have provided responses that they felt were expected, rather than those that accurately reflected their own situation.

90 Every effort has been made to minimise such bias through the development and use of culturally appropriate survey methodology.

91 For a number of survey data items, some respondents were unwilling or unable to provide the required information. Where responses for a particular data item were missing for a person or household they were recorded in a 'not known', 'not stated' or 'refusal' category for that data item. In some instances, 'not stated' categories have been included in the publication tables, to enable users to determine the suitability of the data for their purposes. In some instances, 'not stated' categories are not explicitly shown in the tables, but are included in the total or are grouped with another output category. These groupings are indicated by footnotes. Tables presenting proportions include 'not known' or 'not stated' categories in the calculation of these proportions.

92 Different data items were collected for different time periods. For example, labour force status is based on the week prior to interview, level of psychological distress relates to the four weeks prior to interview and alcohol consumption refers to the 12 months prior to interview. The reliability and accuracy of data are therefore dependent on the respondent's recall.

93 Results of previous ABS surveys and administrative data collections on use of alcohol and illegal drugs suggest a tendency for respondents to under-report actual consumption levels.

94 The employment component of the 2014–15 NATSISS is based on a reduced set of questions from the ABS monthly Labour Force Survey.

95 Information on the age standardisation technique used in this publication is provided in the Technical Note.

96 Broad information to assist the interpretation of specific topics in this publication is provided in the following paragraphs. Further information will be provided in the Users' Guide planned for release in May 2016.

Household composition and family living arrangements

97 Due to the complexity of living arrangements of some Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander households, the data presented may not entirely reflect all persons' circumstances. For example, households may include several members of 'extended family', for which the relationships in the household may be difficult to ascertain.

Social and emotional wellbeing

98 The 2014–15 NATSISS contains a series of questions on social and emotional wellbeing in the four weeks prior to interview, based on selected items from two well-known survey instruments:
    • the Kessler Psychological Distress Scale (K10); and
    • the Medical Outcome Short-Form (SF-36) Health Survey.

99 The survey also contains questions related to personal stressors, discrimination, social support and cultural identification.

100 The K10 is a widely used screening instrument, which gives a simple measure of psychological distress based on a person's emotional state during the four weeks prior to interview. It is not a diagnostic tool, but is an indicator of psychological distress. This survey collected responses to five of the K10 questions, producing outputs for what will be referred to as a K5.

101 Briefly, respondents were asked a series of five questions and for each item, they provided a five-level response scale, based on the amount of time they reported experiencing a particular feeling. Responses to the five questions were put together, resulting in a minimum possible score of five and a maximum possible score of 25. Low scores indicate low levels of psychological distress and high scores indicate high levels of psychological distress.

102 The SF-36 is an instrument designed to provide information on general health and wellbeing across eight dimensions, including: physical functioning; role limitations due to physical problems; bodily pain; general health perceptions; vitality; social functioning; role limitations due to emotional problems; and mental health. The 2014–15 NATSISS includes four questions on positive aspects of social and emotional wellbeing in the four weeks prior to interview. Data from the SF-36 are not presented in this release, but may be available on request. Refer to Products and services.

Disability

103 In the 2008 NATSISS, the questions used to ascertain disability status and disability type differed for persons living in remote and non-remote areas. These differences resulted in a possible underestimation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander persons with a disability in remote areas. In the 2014–15 NATSISS, persons living in remote areas were asked the full set of questions, with some wording changes to aid comprehension. Time series comparisons should not be made for disability data items for persons living in remote areas.

104 There is a conceptual difference between the 2008 and 2014–15 NATSISS in the way that those who had 'no disability or long term health condition' are derived. The 2008 NATSISS did not include a long term health conditions module, so the category 'has no disability or long term health condition' was derived using only the questions in the disability module. The 2014–15 NATSISS included a long-term health conditions module in addition to the disability module, so the appropriate questions across the two modules have been used to derive this category. Conceptually, this means the category 'has no disability or long term health condition', included in the Disability status data item, should not be compared directly between the 2008 and 2014–15 iterations. Rather, the equivalent population in 2014–15 is the sum of 'has no disability, but has a non-restictive long-term condition' and 'has no disability or long-term health condition'. The sum of this population should be referred to as 'has no disability or (restrictive) long-term condition'.

Household Income

105 Household income is calculated by adding the sum of the individual incomes of all persons in the house aged 15 years and over. For selected persons this is part of the personal interview, and for other non-selected household members this is asked of the household spokesperson.

106 If the household spokesperson reported that a household member receives only Newstart, disability support pension, age pension or a carers payment but reported a 'don't know' or 'refusal' for the income amount, these values were imputed as the maximum allowable fortnightly pension amount based on relationship status using 'A Guide to Australian Government payments' 1 January - 19 March.

Comparability with other ABS data sources

107 To aid comparability with other ABS data sources, where possible, questions from existing surveys were used in the 2014–15 NATSISS questionnaire. However, due to the number of topics included in this survey, it was not always possible to adopt the full question modules used in other surveys. In addition, some modules were further shortened or omitted in remote areas because they were not relevant or not able to be effectively administered for the NATSISS within these areas. Where possible, the 2014–15 NATSISS used standard ABS 'short' question modules, designed to maximise comparability with the full question modules.

108 Results from the 2014–15 NATSISS may differ from other ABS surveys which collect information on the same topics as the information is based on a sample of the population and are subject to sampling variability (or sampling error). For example, results from this survey may differ from the figures that would have been obtained from an enumeration of the entire population (eg Census). More information on sampling error is provided in the Technical Note.

109 Differences may also exist in the scope and/or coverage of this survey compared to other surveys. For example, the 2014–15 NATSISS includes Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people living in private dwellings across Australia, including remote and very remote areas, whereas the 2014 General Social Survey includes people living in private dwellings across Australia, excluding very remote areas and discrete Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander communities. Another example is the monthly Labour Force Survey, which includes people aged 15 years and over who live in private dwellings, but also includes a sample of people resident in non-private dwellings (eg hotels).

110 The collection period for this survey was September 2014 to June 2015. The results may therefore differ to other surveys conducted during different reference periods, due to seasonal effects. See paragraph 88 for more information.

111 Differences in estimates may also occur as a result of different collection methodologies. For example, differences may occur depending on if the information was:
    • collected through a personal interview;
    • self-enumerated by the respondent;
    • provided by the person themselves; or
    • was collected from a proxy.

112 Differences may also result from the context in which questions are asked (eg ordering of the questions or the type of survey being conducted). Additionally, self-identification of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander status may vary, depending on the collection methodology (eg face-to-face interview compared to a self-completed form).

113 Further information on the comparability of the 2014–15 NATSISS to other ABS sources is provided in Appendix 2.

Comparability with previous Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social Surveys

114 The ABS previously conducted the National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social Survey (NATSISS) in 2002 and 2008. A National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Survey (NATSIS) was also conducted in 1994. Extensive information on the differences between the 2008 and 2002 surveys is provided in the Explanatory Notes of the National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social Survey, 2008 (cat. no. 4714.0).

115 This release contains selected data from the 2002 and 2008 NATSISS. Data have been limited to items where there is a sufficient level of comparability between the 2014–15 and previous surveys.

116 Understanding the extent to which data from the NATSISS can be compared is essential in interpreting apparent changes over time. While many key data items in the 2014–15 survey are the same or similar to those in the 2002 or 2008 surveys, there are differences in the sample design and coverage, survey methodology and content, definitions, and classifications, all of which may impact on comparability.

117 The scope of the NATSISS changed between 2002 and 2008, to enable the inclusion of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children aged 0–14 years. The 2014-15 data for this age group can only be compared to the 2008 NATSISS.

118 Detailed information on changes to data items, between the 2008 and 2014–15 iterations of NATSISS is provided in Appendix 1.

119 Further information on the comparability of the 2008 and 2014–15 NATSISS will be provided in the Users' Guide planned for release in May 2016.

Classifications

120 Geography data were classified according to the Australian Statistical Geography Standard (ASGS).

121 Occupation data were classified according to the ANZSCO - Australian and New Zealand Standard Classification of Occupations, 2013, Version 1.2 (cat. no. 1220.0).

122 Industry data were classified according to the Australian and New Zealand Standard Industrial Classification (ANZSIC), 2006 (Revision 2.0) (cat. no. 1269.0).

123 Education data were classified according to the Australian Standard Classification of Education, 2001 (cat. no. 1272.0).

Products and services

124 For users who wish to undertake more detailed analysis of the survey data, a TableBuilder product is expected to be released in May 2016, and an expanded confidentialised unit Record file (CURF) is expected to be released in July 2016. The TableBuilder will be accessible via the ABS website, using a secure log-on portal, and the expanded CURF will be accessible through the ABS Remote Access Data Laboratory (RADL) system. Further information about these products, including how they can be obtained and the conditions of use, is available through the Microdata Entry Page on the ABS website.

125 A list of data items from the 2014–15 NATSISS, along with a copy of the survey questionnaire and prompt cards has been released with this publication via the Downloads tab.

126 Special tabulations based on the data from this survey are available on request. Subject to confidentiality and sampling variability constraints, tabulations can be produced from the survey to meet individual requirements. These can be provided in electronic or printed form.

127 For more information about this survey and associated products contact the National Information and Referral Service on 1300 135 070 or email the National Centre for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Statistics at ncatsis@abs.gov.au.

Acknowledgment

128 The 2014–15 NATSISS was dependent on the high level of cooperation received from Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and their communities. Without their continued cooperation, the wide range of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander 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.

Related publications

129 Current ABS publications and other products available from the ABS website, include: