4906.0.55.003 - Personal Safety Survey, Australia: User Guide, 2012  
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Contents >> Survey Design and Operation >> Sample Design and Selection



The sample size, distribution and method of selection for the 2012 PSS were based on a number of factors:

    • the key estimates required to be produced from the survey;
    • the level of disaggregation and accuracy at which these key survey estimates were required; and
    • the costs and operational constraints of conducting the survey.

The aim of the survey was to produce certain key estimates of interest with an acceptable level of quality. The sample design included the quality requirement that relative standard errors (RSEs) of less than 25% would be obtained for the following key estimates:
    • experience of violence in the last 12 months;
    • experience of partner violence in the last 12 months; and
    • experience of sexual assault in the last 12 months.

Each of these key estimates were then required to be disaggregated for:
    • women: for each State and Territory (& at the national level); and
    • men: at the national level. While the survey was not designed to provide State/Territory level data for men, estimates of acceptable quality were able to be produced for some of the larger States.

The PSS 2012 sample was designed to meet these requirements as close as possible whilst taking into consideration the overall costs and operational constraints of conducting the survey.

The sample for women was allocated roughly equally in each State and Territory in order to provide sufficiently reliable State and Territory and national level estimates for women. The sample for men was allocated to States and Territories roughly in proportion to their respective population size, in order to provide sufficiently reliable national level estimates for men.

In order to target the differential numbers of male and female sample, dwellings were assigned as either male (where an interview with a male aged 18 years and over was required) or female (where an interview with a female aged 18 years and over was required). One in-scope person of the assigned gender was then randomly selected from each dwelling. Where the household did not contain an in scope resident of the assigned gender, no interview was required from that dwelling (for further information refer to Data Collection).

Due to this requirement, the sample design catered for a higher sample loss rate than is usual in ABS household surveys. Sample loss refers to dwellings that are approached but do not yield successful interviews because the dwelling does not contain any persons in scope of the survey (eg. unoccupied dwellings or for the 2012 PSS this also included instances where the dwelling did not contain a person of the required gender). It was known that this requirement would require a larger starting sample to cater for these instances.

Lastly, response rates to the survey were expected to be impacted by a number of operational factors, designed to help ensure the safety of respondents, the safety of interviewers and also to help ensure data integrity. These included:
    • the voluntary nature of the survey;
    • requirement for all interviews to be conducted in a private interview setting;
    • no proxy interviews were allowed; and
    • the overall sensitive nature of the survey content.
Due to these factors, the sample design also catered for lower response rates, expecting to attain around a 70% response rate.

In the 2012 PSS a total sample of 41,345 households were selected, comprising 31,638 female and 9,707 male households. Taking account expected sample loss and an anticipated response rate of 70%, this selected sample was designed to achieve around 20,300 fully responding households (4,600 males and 15,700 females).

Actual numbers of fully responding households are available in the Response Rates section of this chapter.

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