There are several data collections undertaken by the ABS which measure aspects of employment. Each has a different purpose, with different definitions and different collection methodologies. Data from several of these data sources are presented in this chapter which, taken together, provide a good picture of employment and voluntary work in the cultural sector in Australia. The chapter focuses mainly on the people who have paid work in cultural industries and occupations. Information is also presented on unpaid involvement which includes voluntary work. Different aspects of the cultural sector are selected from the data sources described below.
The Census of Population and Housing collected information on a person’s main job, the one in which they usually worked the most hours, in the week before the Census. A range of demographic information including sex, age, birthplace, income, hours worked and state or territory of usual residence as well as details on occupation and industry are available from the Census. While this chapter gives some data from the Census on cultural employment, it is by no means exhaustive and substantially more can be found in the ABS publication Employment in Culture, Australia, 2001 (cat. no. 6273.0).
The Survey of Work in Selected Culture and Leisure Activities (or 'Work' survey) was conducted in 1993, 1997 and 2001 as part of the Monthly Population Survey. Unlike the Census, the surveys covered all cultural work including second jobs and both paid and unpaid involvement. The surveys asked people aged 15 years and over about their involvement in cultural activity over a 12-month period. Data for 2001 appear in Work in Selected Culture and Leisure Activities, Australia, April 2001 (cat. no. 6281.0).
The 2000 Voluntary Work Survey collected information about volunteering for all kinds of organisations, including those relating to arts and culture. The demographic details of volunteers, their reasons for volunteering, the frequency and duration of their involvement were all collected and are the subject of a report commissioned by the Cultural Ministers Council Statistics Working Group entitled Australia’s Cultural Volunteers, 2000.
While the Census, the 'Work' Survey and the Voluntary Work Survey obtained their data from the general population, the 1999-2000 Service Industries Surveys collected information from employing cultural organisations. These organisations were able to provide information on the number of people they employed and the number of volunteers whose services they used. However, it should be emphasised that many smaller businesses operated by self-employed people with no employees and those organisations which rely on volunteers, were excluded, as the focus was on employing businesses.
The May 2002 Survey of Employee Earnings and Hours provides information on the composition and distribution of the earnings and hours of wage and salary earners. Data from this survey have been published in Employee Earnings and Hours, Australia, May 2002 (cat. no. 6306.0).
Each data source provides a different perspective on employment or voluntary work in the cultural sector. Which source to use is dependent on what one is trying to measure. For example, if seeking a regional breakdown (below state or territory level) or a fine level of detail on the occupation of a person working in a cultural industry, the census is the most appropriate data source although it suffers from only referring to a person's main job. If information on the total number of people involved in culture is required and detailed data on the characteristics of those involved is not important, then the 'Work' Survey data would be the most useful. If trying to compare the number of people who volunteer to work in heritage and arts organisations, with those offering their services elsewhere, the Voluntary Work Survey should be used.
The Service Industry Surveys are the most appropriate source if details of the number of people working in selected industries are required. Unlike the census, these surveys include people working in the industries in second jobs or in an unpaid capacity. However, the Service Industry Surveys only collect information from employing organisations, therefore those organisations which rely solely on the services of volunteers are excluded.
This page last updated 4 December 2007