Confidentialised Unit Record Files
Census products such as CDATA and SEIFA contain a huge amount of data that can be manipulated and analysed. However, the most detailed statistical information available from the ABS is contained in Confidentialised Unit Record Files, or CURFs. CURFs are growing in popularity amongst researchers.
CURFs contain data from ABS collections in the form of unit records which have been made confidential by removing name and address information and restricting the level of detail available. They allow researchers to perform their own analysis and modelling on the data and produce their own output based on their individual research needs.
Among the most popular CURFs is the Household Sample File (HSF), a one per cent random sample of records from the Census of Population and Housing. Household Sample Files from every Census since 1981 are available.
Most of the classificatory detail from the 2001 Census is available on the HSF. However some fields, such as birthplace, industry, occupation and educational qualification are collapsed to less detailed levels in order to meet the ABS’s stringent confidentiality requirements.
The Household Sample File is available on CD-ROM or through the Remote Access Data Laboratory (RADL). The CD-ROM version contains a Basic CURF. An Expanded CURF, with less restriction on the level of detail, is available through RADL.
The RADL is a secure on-line service that allows approved users to access Confidentialised Unit Record Files from their own desktops. Clients can submit queries using software such as SAS and SPSS. Restrictions on the nature of the queries that can be run ensure that the confidentiality of individual respondents is maintained. RADL includes a Discussion Forum to facilitate information exchange between users.
To support academic research and teaching, the ABS currently has an agreement in place with the Australian Vice-Chancellors’ Committee to provide university staff and students with access to CURFs for non-commercial purposes.