1406.0.55.003 - Responsible Use of ABS Microdata, User Guide  
Latest ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 01/07/2016   
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Responsible Officer Undertaking
Before access to microdata can be granted by the ABS, a Responsible Officer in an Organisation must submit a signed Undertaking. The Undertaking, and information about who is authorised to sign it can be found in the 'Responsible Officer Undertaking and Responsibilities' section of this guide. Individual users are bound by the Undertaking signed by their organisation’s Responsible Officer, so it is important that you read and understand the Undertaking which your Responsible Officer has agreed to on your behalf.

Individual Undertaking
An Individual Undertaking may also be required, for example, when accessing microdata in the DataLab environment. The ABS will let you know if an Individual Undertaking is a requirement of your microdata access. The Individual Undertaking can be found in the 'Individual Undertaking and Declaration of Compliance' section of this guide.

Access conditions
Important points to remember when accessing and using ABS microdata:

  • keep passwords for ABS systems secure
  • use microdata only for statistical purposes
  • do not attempt to identify persons or organisations to which the information relates
  • do not try to avoid, override or otherwise circumvent the mode of access controls in place by the ABS
  • do not attempt to match the information with any other list, database or repository of persons or organisations
  • do not provide microdata to anyone without the approval of the ABS
  • where access to ABS microdata is provided remotely, you must:
    a) access the microdata in a work or private location
    b) protect the screen from oversight by other people, and
    c) use a secure internet connection
  • talk to the ABS if you any questions or concerns about your responsibilities, the microdata or the systems.

For a complete list of your obligations when accessing microdata, see:
  • this user guide (Responsible Use of ABS Microdata User Guide)
  • the Responsible Officer Undertaking in the Downloads tab of this user guide
  • the Individual Undertaking and Declaration of Compliance in the Downloads tab of this user guide
  • the Terms and conditions you agreed to when registering in the Registration Centre
  • the Remote Access Data Laboratory User Manual
  • any other directions in relation to microdata provided to you by the Australian Bureau of Statistics.

Using microdata for a statistical purpose
ABS legislation requires that microdata is used only for statistical purposes. You must not use microdata for compliance or regulatory purposes. Examples of statistical purposes include:
  • estimation of population characteristics to provide indicators of financial literacy of Australian households
  • statistical modelling of predictors and correlates of employment and work performance among those with carer responsibilities compared to persons without these responsibilities
  • use of data as input to mathematical models to enable analysis of impacts of potential policy changes in the area of health insurance
  • study the relationship between disability and labour market outcomes to target future employment programs
  • provision of statistical training to staff or students.

The ABS reserves the right to seek additional information from applicants regarding their statistical purpose for the use of microdata.

Leaving your organisation
Once you leave an organisation, you must not access microdata for which you were approved under that organisation. You must let your Contact Officer or the ABS know you when you are no longer a member of your organisation so that your access to microdata can be removed. You also need to delete, destroy or return to your Contact Officer any microdata in your possession.

Sharing microdata
Access to microdata can only be granted by the ABS. Microdata must not be shared with other individuals as this is a breach of the Undertaking signed by your organisation. Any person who needs access to microdata or to non-aggregated output produced from microdata must apply and be approved by the ABS before accessing the data. This includes members of your research project team who will see or use microdata or non-aggregated output. Sanctions may be brought against organisations and individuals found to be sharing access to microdata with unapproved individuals or organisations.

Sharing statistical output from microdata
Tables or other aggregated output (for example, averages, model parameters) may be disclosed, published or disseminated by the user. When disseminating aggregated output or reports, you must ensure that you correctly cite the ABS microdata as the source. See below for Licence provisions, copyright and citations.

Unit record data from Basic CURFs or 'Keep Secure' labelled output from the RADL must not be disclosed or disseminated by the user, and must be securely stored.

See also the Secure storage of ABS microdata section of this guide.

Examples of data that do not reveal microdata and are not required to remain in a secure environment include:
    • tabulations containing cells with 3 or more unweighted contributing sample units
    • details of fitted models, such as regression parameters
    • summary and test statistics from estimates
    • linear and non-linear regression coefficients
    • DataLab output cleared by the ABS.

Individuals belonging to more than one organisation
Individuals belonging to multiple organisations can be approved to access microdata in each organisation. Separate approval must be sought from the ABS for product access under each organisation, as access is granted at an organisational level as well as an individual level.

Collaboration on microdata research
Collaboration can occur when consultants conduct work on behalf of an organisation, or when multiple organisations are working together on a research product.

Any party who is working directly with microdata and outputs must have approval from the ABS to access the specific microdata product, both at an organisational level and an individual level. As outlined in the Undertaking signed by the organisation's Responsible Officer, the organisation must not disclose microdata to anyone without the approval from the ABS, and sanctions apply if this condition is breached. Please contact microdata.access@abs.gov.au to ensure the correct approval has been granted to all individuals within your work group.

If individuals are involved in a joint project or collaboration, but do not need to see or share microdata, they do not need to be approved for access. For example, if a consultant provides a report with conclusions drawn from analysis of the microdata to another organisation, then that organisation is not required to have approved access to the microdata.

ABS liability regarding microdata
While the ABS has taken great care to ensure that microdata is as correct and accurate as possible, the ABS does not guarantee, or accept any legal liability arising from, or connected to, the use of any material contained within, or derived from microdata. Except to the extent that liability may not be lawfully excluded, the ABS:
a) makes no warranty as to the suitability or fitness of the microdata for a particular purpose, quality, accuracy or merchantability, and
b) accepts no liability arising from the use of the microdata.

Licence provisions, copyright and citations
Intellectual Property rights in microdata, including copyright, are owned by the Commonwealth of Australia represented by the ABS. Copyright notices appearing on microdata products or on information displayed or printed by the microdata product must not be removed.

Microdata and its output are subject to full copyright terms. Organisations using microdata are granted a non-exclusive, non-transferable licence by the ABS that allows authorised users to use microdata for statistical purposes in accordance with the Undertaking signed by the Responsible Officer of the organisation.

TableBuilder output is licensed under Creative Commons Attribution 2.5 Australia licensing, allowing users to share and transform the material for any purpose.

Publication of data and analysis from microdata or TableBuilder products must cite the Australian Bureau of Statistics as the source of the data and include a prominently displayed notice that the results or views expressed are those of the author, and not necessarily those of the ABS. More information about citing microdata and TableBuilder products in published output is available in the Guide to citing ABS sources.

Researchers have an opportunity to provide a link to their Published research using microdata in the ABS microdata pages. Email a link to your published research to microdata.access@abs.gov.au.