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Newsletters - National Centre for Culture and Recreation Statistics (NCCRS) - January Quarter 2001


Happy new year! At the National Centre for Culture and Recreation Statistics, we are looking forward to an exciting year, with a number of key activities taking place and new publications being released. But before I give you a glimpse into the future from the NCCRS perspective, let me first review some of the highlights of the past year.

The year 2000 has been a year of many changes for NCCRS. First of all, Barry Haydon left NCCRS to work in another section of the ABS. Barry was instrumental in establishing NCCRS in 1991 and in the intervening years, worked tirelessly to transform the Centre into a nationally recognised centre of statistical leadership in the areas of culture, sport and recreation. As the new director, I am working hard to try to fill his shoes!

Also in 2000, the internal review of NCCRS was completed. This review reported very favourably on the work and activities of NCCRS. At the same time, it encouraged us to expand our efforts in a number of areas, with an emphasis on two:
  • develop an information model and follow this up with an information plan. An information model will provide the basis for determining how culture and recreation information could and should be structured, as well as assist in identifying where further data collection and analysis are required. Work on the information model began in late 2000 and will continue throughout 2001. (We plan to provide more details about information models in our next newsletter.)
  • increase our coordination role for culture and recreation statistics. Since its inception, NCCRS has played a key role in terms of coordinating culture and recreation information. NCCRS has now been encouraged to further develop its work in this area (see page 3 for details of our activities in this area).

In addition to our work on the tasks noted above, 2001 will see the publication of a directory of ABS statistics of relevance to culture and leisure (a first for NCCRS); the release of the Australian Culture and Leisure Classifications (a set of three classifications that will become the basis for future collections of culture and leisure data) (another first for NCCRS); the publication of updated statistics on paid and unpaid work in culture and in sporting activities; the release of data from the 1999-2000 Book Publishers Survey; and the creation of a culture and sport/recreation theme page on the ABS web site (another first). Furthermore, yet another first was the release on January 18th of ABS data on activities children undertake during their free time (see page 2).

Finally, as those of you who have read this newsletter in the past may have noticed, NCCRS has changed the look of its newsletter. Not only have we added more colour (for those of you reading the electronic version of this newsletter, just believe me, it is very pretty), we have given ourselves more space in which to keep readers informed of our activities. Our aim is to make this newsletter as useful as possible to you, the reader. In turn, any comments and suggestions that you have about our newsletter are welcome.

Adriana Vanden Heuvel


Virtually all (97%) children aged 5 to 14 years watched TV or videos during their free time, according to figures from the first comprehensive survey by the ABS of the cultural and leisure activities of Australian children. Of those who did watch TV or videos, 52% did so for 20 hours or more in a two-week period during the school term. In addition, 69% of children played electronic or computer games, 64% rode bikes, 44% spent some time on art and craft activities and 31% skateboarded or rollerbladed in the two-week period.

More than half (59%) of children (66% of boys and 52% of girls) participated in organised sport outside of school hours in the 12 months to April 2000. Outdoor soccer was the most popular organised sport for boys and netball was top for girls.

Almost one in three (29%) children were involved in at least one of the four organised cultural activities covered by the survey during their free time in the 12 months ending April 2000: 18% played a musical instrument, 10% danced, 5% sang and 5% were involved in drama activities outside of school hours.

More details on the leisure-time activities of children can be found in Children’s Participation in Cultural and Leisure Activities, Australia, April 2000 (ABS Cat. no. 4901.0; $22.00) which was released on 18 January 2001.


The vast majority (95%) of Australian children aged 5 to 14 years had used a computer and almost half (47%) had accessed the Internet in the previous 12 months, according to findings summarised in a feature article in Use of the Internet by Householders, Australia, August 2000 (ABS Cat. no. 8147.0; $17.50) which was released on 21 November 2000. While older children were more likely than younger children to have used a computer or accessed the Internet, girls and boys were equally likely to have done so. There was also no difference in access by those who lived in the six State capital cities in comparison with those who lived in other areas.

Data for this article were sourced from the Children’s Participation in Cultural and Leisure Activities Survey conducted in April 2000. The remainder of the publication presents data from the quarterly Population Survey Monitor about the extent of computer and Internet access in Australian households. It also presents a profile of adult users at home, work and other locations.


Fewer Australians were participating in sport and physical activities in the 12 months before interview in 1999-2000. Specifically, 55% of adults had participated in sport or physical activities in 1999-2000, down from 59% in 1998-99. Participation declined in every State and Territory except for Western Australia. Furthermore, the decrease in participation was observed for each of the age groups, with the largest decrease occurring in the 45-54 year age group (49% in 1999-2000 compared with 56% in 1998-99).

The two top participation activities were walking (19% of adults) and swimming (14%). For men, golf was most popular (16% participating) while for women, walking (24%) topped the list.

These results were published in the final issue of Participation in Sport and Physical Activities, Australia, 1999-2000 (ABS Cat. no. 4177.0; $19.50) which was released on 24 October 2000. This publication contains information on the characteristics of participants (e.g. age, sex, State/Territory, membership status), whether the sports were organised and the frequency of participation.


Government funding for cultural activities continued to grow in 1998-99. Compared with the previous financial year, total funding for cultural activities by Commonwealth, State, Territory and local governments increased by 6% to $3,721 million. State and Territory governments provided 46% of all government cultural funding in 1998-99 and also increased their contribution by 16% compared with the previous financial year. The Commonwealth contribution rose by 0.6% for the same period while the local government share fell by 3%.

Libraries and archives were the biggest recipients, receiving $756.2 million with nearly 55% coming from local government. Other large recipients of funds included National parks and wildlife services ($709.1 million) and Radio and television broadcasting ($685.4 million).

These details, and more (including a five-year time series), are available in Cultural Funding in Australia- Three Tiers of Government 1998-1999 which was released in October 2000 by the Cultural Ministers Council Statistics Working Group (CMC SWG). Copies can be obtained from the CMC SWG Secretariat at the Department of Communications, Information Technology and the Arts, telephone: (02) 6271 1051.


Exactly how many people are employed in sport and recreation in Australia? The Population Census provides us with part of the answer. But because it only records information on a person’s main job, those employed in second jobs in sport and recreation are not captured in Census data.

Drawing together data from both ABS and non-ABS sources, NCCRS estimated that 275,957 Australians were employed in sport and recreation. This estimate, and further details (including State and Territory estimates), were published in the report Employment in Sport and Recreation, Australia, which was released on 9 November 2000 by the Sport and Recreation Ministers’ Council. Copies of the report are available from the Department of Industry, Science and Resources on (02) 6213 7078.


Operating profit before tax for the 13 casinos in Australia was $452 million during 1999-2000, which represented an operating profit margin of 15%. This profit result was a significant increase from 1998-99 when the operating profit margin was 3%. The $938 million takings from 10,825 poker/gaming machines during 1999-2000 represented $67 per person in the Australian adult population. These statistics can be found in Casinos, Australia (ABS Cat. no. 8683.0; $17.00) which was released on 14 December 2000.


An increasing amount of the work which is being under- taken at NCCRS has been in line with our objectives of:
  • increasing standardisation across all culture and recreation statistical sources by developing (and encouraging the use of) models and standards; and
  • undertaking additional coordination work of all Australian culture and recreation statistics, including both ABS and non-ABS statistics.

These NCCRS objectives are in line with new ABS corporate strategies and build on work undertaken in recent years with the assistance of the Cultural Ministers Council Statistics Working Group (CMC SWG) and the Recreation and Sport Industry Statistics Group (RSISG).

Activities on information modelling and the development of classifications are contributing to these objectives. Here, we describe some of the other NCCRS coordination activities which are underway.

NCCRS has been developing 'Arts and Culture’ and 'Sport and Recreation’ theme pages which will soon be added to the ABS web site. The theme pages will inform readers about: the availability and nature of ABS data related to culture and recreation, relevant ABS reports, and non-ABS reports prepared by NCCRS about culture and recreation. It will also provide links to other organisations which have information about culture and recreation.

In the next few months, an ABS Data Directory of Culture and Recreation Statistics, currently being prepared by NCCRS, will be loaded to the theme pages. This directory will provide details of a wide range of ABS data collections which contain data of relevance to culture and recreation. Each directory entry will include details about data items (some of which have not been published) for which information may be obtained, and which may be able to be cross-classified with other data items to produce information of use to clients.

NCCRS has also begun work on a directory of non-ABS data, which is a longer term project. With funding from both RSISG and CMC SWG, NCCRS has initiated work on an inventory of statistical sources of relevance to culture and sport/recreation that are held by a number of government departments and other organisations. The aim is to produce a directory (that will be updated on an ongoing basis) that provides an easy reference point for those seeking statistical data on the sector.

NCCRS is also preparing a report on sport and physical activity participation statistics on behalf of RSISG. The project aims to present a comprehensive overview of participation statistics in Australia by identifying surveys that collected information from a health-benefit perspective (e.g. relating to energy expenditure over a specified period), as well as surveys that focussed more on participation from an industry perspective (i.e. involvement in particular sports and physical activities). It is hoped that in summarising what kinds of participation data exist at National and State/Territory level, the paper will inform the various persons and groups interested in such data, facilitate more effective coordination between groups collecting such data and assist in the development of standardisation in approach.

Finally, the health benefits of physical activity are well recognised, but less is known about the social impacts. Thus NCCRS is undertaking a project, with a funding contribution from the Standing Committee on Recreation and Sport (SCORS), to identify and collate existing empirical research on the social impacts of sport and leisure time physical activity. An annotated bibliography will be created which will include comments on the methodology used in the research.



The questionnaire for the April 2001 population survey, which will capture information on people’s involvement in culture and leisure activities, has been finalised. In particular, the survey will determine the number of people undertaking paid and unpaid work in organised sport, organised recreational physical activities and selected cultural activities in the 12 months prior to being interviewed. Data from this survey are expected to be available in November 2001.


As part of its Service Industries Survey (SIS) program, the ABS despatched a series of survey forms to organisations in the cultural industries during August. The surveys collect information from selected businesses on topics such as their employment, income and expenditure. Cultural industries targeted include: film and video production and distribution, motion picture exhibition, public libraries, museums, art galleries, botanic gardens, music and theatre production, performing arts venues and festivals. A series of publications based on these surveys will be released from April 2001.


In 2001 the SIS program will collect data on sport and recreation industries. Between July and September 2000, the ABS undertook extensive consultation with peak bodies, clubs and associations aimed at ensuring the data to be collected are available and relevant. Based on these consultations draft survey forms were developed and tested in November. NCCRS is now providing feedback on a second draft of the survey forms, and a further phase of testing is planned in February. Survey forms will be despatched in August 2001.


NCCRS is conducting separate surveys on Book Publishers and Book Retailers. The 1999-2000 Book Publishers Survey is currently being conducted, with data expected to be available by May 2001. Data being collected includes employment, and the value and volume of sales and expenditure. The 1999-2000 survey is the first of five annual surveys of book publishers to be conducted as part of the Federal Government’s Book Industry Assistance Plan. There have been three previous surveys of book publishers, the most recent being in respect of 1997-98.

As well, development of the Book Retailers Survey is currently underway. The survey will collect data in respect of 2000-2001 (with data available in 2002). The 2000-2001 survey is the first of four annual surveys of book retailers to be conducted as part of the Book Industry Plan.


The latest version of the National Sport and Recreation Industry Database and Directory (NSRIDD) was released in December 2000. NSRIDD is a repository of ABS data relating to sport and recreation. It contains thousands of tables of data on topics such as participation, employment, voluntary work, business performance, imports and exports. State and Territory data are available in most cases. The latest release of NSRIDD includes data from: the 1999-2000 survey on Participation in Sport and Physical Activities; the 1998 Disability, Ageing and Carers Survey on attendance at sporting events by disabled persons; and the 1995 National Health Survey on sport injuries. NSRIDD is provided to each member of RSISG, and may be accessed by contacting the RSISG member in each State or Territory Government office responsible for sport and recreation policy. More information and contact details may be found at:



Culture Topics: Chris Giddings on (08) 8237 7326

Sport Topics: Benjamin Smith on (08) 8237 7404

Director: Adriana Vanden Heuvel on (08) 8237 7399

Fax: (08) 8237 7366

National Centre for Culture and Recreation Statistics
Australian Bureau of Statistics
GPO Box 2272

ABS Internet site:

Commonwealth of Australia 2008

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