1143.0.55.001 - Directory of Culture and Leisure Statistics, 2002  
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Contents >> Introduction


Aims of the directory
Defining culture and leisure
Structure and content of the directory
How to use the directory
To obtain data or further information


Aims of the directory

The Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) gathers culture and leisure data through a variety of collections. Some of these collections focus on culture and leisure and thus the fact that they contain data of relevance to culture and leisure is obvious. However, there are many other collections that do not focus on culture and leisure but, nonetheless, contain data of relevance to these subject areas. In addition, regardless of whether or not the focus of the collection is culture and leisure, users of such data may wish to learn more about the nature of the data set and where the data can be found but may not know how to go about doing this. Finally, while data users are generally aware that the data released in ABS publications does not include all of the data that are available and that alternative cross-tabulations and analyses are possible, many are unaware of the nature of the additional data that are available.

As a result, the ABS has developed this directory of culture and leisure statistics, with financial assistance from both the Cultural Ministers Council and the Sport and Recreation Ministers' Council. The key aims of this directory are to provide a quick and easy reference to sources of culture and leisure data, and provide information about the extent of data available from each data collection. The directory fulfils these aims by listing data collections that contain information of relevance to those in the culture and leisure sectors. A separate entry for each such data collection is provided, and each entry describes the collection and lists the relevant data items. Entries also provide information on the scope, frequency and history of a collection and the major publications that present data from the collection.

In addition to updating this directory on a regular basis, the longer-term aim is to progressively add information about data sources held by organisations other than the ABS. At present, a range of Government departments and agencies, culture and leisure bodies and associations, and other organisations collect data and/or have access to administrative by-product data on culture and leisure in Australia. However, there is a lack of awareness across these organisations of the existence and nature of data sources that exist within Australia, despite the fact that these data sources may significantly contribute to the monitoring and evaluation of this nation's culture and leisure activities, and to the development of related policies and programs.

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Defining culture and leisure

This directory makes use of the Australian Culture and Leisure Classifications (ACLCs) to determine the data items and collections relevant to culture and leisure. The ACLCs adopt an activity-based approach to defining culture and leisure. The culture and leisure activities covered by the classifications are those undertaken for the purpose of:

    enjoyment, relaxation, diversion or recreation;
    artistic expression (e.g. visual, musical, written, kinaesthetic or dramatic);
    using, practising or developing sporting skills;
    generating, developing, preserving or reflecting cultural or spiritual meaning; and
    facilitating any of the above.

The three Australian Culture and Leisure Classifications developed thus far by the ABS cover culture and leisure industries, products and occupations. That is, they cover economic production and employment activity related to culture and leisure, rather than personal activities undertaken for recreation. The ABS Time Use Activity Classification was used to guide the selection of collections and data items related to the latter activities.

It is acknowledged that there are no accepted definitions of the terms 'culture' and 'leisure', that different definitions may be required in different contexts, and that definitions of culture and leisure are constantly changing. For more detail on the classifications, and some discussion about definitional issues, see Australian Culture and Leisure Classifications (ABS Cat. no. 4902.0). For a more detailed discussion of the issues surrounding a definition of culture and leisure, see the Culture and Leisure chapter of Measuring Wellbeing: Frameworks for Australian Social Statistics (ABS cat. no. 4160.0).

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Structure and content of the directory

The directory is organised into two main parts: one for arts and culture and the other for sport and leisure. This division was chosen to correspond as closely as possible with the interests of major users of culture and leisure data. Collections that have data relevant to both areas are linked to both parts. Within each main part, the collections are organised into theme groups, and are ordered alphabetically by collection title within each theme group.

Each directory entry contains the following sections:


Describes the main purpose of the collection. Some collections are aimed specifically at obtaining data on culture and leisure. Others are aimed at obtaining data on other themes, but include related culture and leisure topics. Sometimes culture and leisure data are available simply because data have been coded by classifications that have culture and leisure classes (such as the Australian Standard Classification of Occupations, which contains a number of culture and leisure occupations). In instances where the collection is not focussed specifically on culture and leisure, its relevance to culture and leisure is described in this section of each entry. In addition, where the primary purpose of a collection was to gather data about arts and culture, but it also contains some data of relevance to sport and leisure (or vice versa), the entry is linked to both parts of the directory and the relevance to sport and leisure (or arts and culture) is highlighted in this section of the entry.


Provides information about the collection, including the target population of the collection and technical aspects of the collection (e.g. method of data collection, sample size, etc.).

Geographic coverage

Details the largest geographic area covered by the collection (e.g. Australia, or a particular State or Territory).

Frequency of collection

Provides details on the frequency with which the collection is conducted (e.g. annual, irregular).

Data items

Lists details of the data items collected. In order to assist data users to understand the data set as fully as possible and/or to specify their requirements when contacting the ABS for information about ABS collections, considerable detail is provided on data items of most relevance to culture and leisure.

Historical data

Shows the period(s) for which past data are available. Where there are limits to the comparability of collections over time these are noted briefly. Note that more information about comparability is usually available in the most recent publication for a collection.


The dissemination section is separated into two parts: publications and other.

Publications: lists details of ABS and, in some cases, non-ABS publications that contain data produced from the collection.

Other: includes information on electronic products and the availability of confidentialised unit record files.


Provides contact details for specific enquiries about a collection pertaining to, for example, requests for additional details on methodology, data item definitions and future collection plans. For information about how to obtain data, refer to obtain data or further information.

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How to use the directory

There are two main ways to navigate this directory - by theme or by collection name - as follows:

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To obtain data or further information

The ABS publications listed in the directory can be purchased from the ABS and are also usually held at public and tertiary institution libraries. Main features of most collections are freely available on the ABS Web site. Refer to How to Access ABS Statistics or Contact the ABS on this Web site for more information.

If the required data tabulations are not available from published reports, the ABS can often provide customised tabulations. To determine the feasibility of creating such tabulations and their cost, readers should contact the ABS' National Information and Referral Service - refer to Contact the ABS. Data users should be aware that the need to preserve the confidentiality of data providers, and the constraints imposed by sample sizes, may prevent dissemination of data to a very fine level of detail. Client service consultants will discuss any such constraints with data users and, if so, determine whether a less fine level of detail will be feasible and satisfactory.

For specific or complex enquiries about a collection (for example, for additional explanations of methodology, data item definitions and future collection plans), refer to the contact details in the 'Contact' section of that collection's entry in the directory.

For further information about the ABS' National Centre for Culture and Recreation Statistics, in which this directory was compiled, refer to the Culture and Recreation theme page on this Web site.

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