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Newsletters - Age Matters - Issue Number 21, January 2007


Selected ABS Releases
Release of Wave 5 HILDA Data
Confidentialised Unit Record Files (CURFS)
Did You Know?
Upcoming Conferences
Where Can You Find Us
NASU Contact Details


Happy New Year to all of our Age Matters readers!

From an ABS perspective, the year ahead will be an exciting one with the release of the Information Development Plan for improving statistics on Older Persons, as well as the first of the 2006 Census of Population and Housing results.

In this edition, we have highlighted some interesting facts drawn from the 2004-05 National Health Survey, and included some FAQs on confidentialised unit record files (CURFs) in response to varying levels of awareness of this product range. CURFs complement the suite of ABS publications and electronic tables and are available for a wide range of ABS surveys. Details about accessing microdata, particularly those relevant to ageing and older persons research, service provision and policy development are included.

Wishing you all the best for 2007,

David Martyn
Director, Statistical Services & Household Surveys
Qld Regional Office

This edition of Age Matters includes an update on the upcoming ABS Survey of Employment Arrangements, Retirement and Superannuation (SEARS) and a summary from the Review of Strategic Statistical Issues for Future National Health Surveys.


The ABS Survey of Employment Arrangements, Retirement and Superannuation (SEARS) will be conducted in 2007. SEARS will contain information about: people's employment arrangements such as job flexibility; job security; job duration and expected job duration; working patterns; extra paid and unpaid hours worked; people's work preferences; caring responsibilities and working arrangements used to care for someone.

The survey will also present information on retirement and retirement intentions, including plans for transition to retirement; expected age at retirement; expected sources of income at retirement; age at retirement and reasons for retirement.

Information will be available from the survey on how much people are contributing to superannuation (through personal, employer and/or spouse contributions) and their account balances, whether they are receiving a pension or annuity from superannuation, and the characteristics of people with different levels of superannuation coverage.

The survey will include a range of socio-demographic information, including country of birth of parent and proficiency in spoken English.


The National Health Survey (NHS) is a key component of a program of ABS Health related surveys, and also of a broader group of health related population surveys conducted in Australia. It focuses on chronic (long term) condition status, interventions and health risk factors. It also provides a relatively detailed demographic and social context.

The ABS conducted a Review of Strategic Statistical Issues for Future National Health Surveys to determine a strategic approach to managing the scope, content and coverage of future National Health Surveys, and ensure integration with other national and international health surveys. This paper provides details of the review – the context, processes undertaken, feedback received and recommendations made for future health data.

A process of consultation was undertaken from September 2004 to elicit feedback from a broad spectrum of experts and users of health data. Key information needs were identified for policy issues, research questions and decision making in the area of health.

Broad consultation began with two workshops, and continued with the establishment of the Health Statistics Online Discussion Forum and release of fourteen discussion papers on topics of interest which were widely distributed among stakeholders. A number of meetings were also held with government and non-government bodies and committees.

Proposals were discussed at several meetings of the Health Statistics Advisory Group and the final proposals were strongly supported at the most recent meeting in August 2006. The proposals are based on the assumption that the following NHS in 2010-11, which coincides with the National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Survey (NATSIHS), may require a return to content similar to the 2004-05 NHS. Data content for the 2010-11 NHS will be finalised at a later date. The collection of health related data in other surveys, such as the Multi-Purpose Household Survey or Monthly Population Survey, will also need to be discussed further.

The major outcomes from the Review in terms of directions for the 2007-08 NHS are:

  • Increased focus on chronic disease.
  • Maintain comparability of measures over time wherever possible.
  • Exclude recent injury, service use levels, private health insurance, hysterectomy, hormone replacement therapy, breast feeding, food security and immunisation topics with a view to reinstatement in 2010-11.
  • Test possible new topics:
    • self-management, General Practitioner management, consultations and reduced activity related to specific conditions - asthma, cancer, cardiovascular disease, diabetes and musculoskeletal conditions
    • physical measurements of height, weight, hip and waist circumference, and blood pressure
    • changes in lifestyle risk factor behaviour
    • occupational and transport-related physical activity, and amount of sitting time
    • bodily pain, disability status and family stressors
    • alcohol and tobacco use for 15-17 year olds
    • type of vitamins etc. taken, type of pharmaceuticals taken and duration of use, consultations, reduced activity and age of diagnosis for mental disorders.
The full report can be found on the ABS's health statistics online discussion forum.

The NHS development phase has now reached the survey's dress rehearsal stage, with content for the final survey being likely to be further refined following completion of the dress rehearsal.

Since the last edition of Age Matters in September 2006, the ABS have released the following Census products.

Census Community Profile Templates, 2006 (cat. no. 2001.0.55.001)

The following 2006 Census Community Profile Series templates are provided as a guide to the standard tables which will be available when the data is released. Users are encouraged to take maximum advantage of this early release of the templates in preparation for the release of 2006 Census data from mid-2007. Users will be able to determine well in advance which data will be available as standard output and plan requirements from customised tables accordingly.

Please note that release dates vary across the different Community Profile types. Community Profiles are available in Excel format free of charge.
  • Basic Community Profile
    Basic demographic information for an area, including age, ancestry, income, education, family type and more.
  • Indigenous Profile
Key Census characteristics of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander persons, families and dwellings. Includes comparisons with non-Indigenous people.
  • Place of Enumeration Profile
    Key Census characteristics of persons, families and dwellings. The data are based on place of enumeration. It differs from the other Community Profiles in that it provides data on where people were counted on Census Night rather than where they 'usually' live or their 'usual address'.

Census of Population and Housing: Census Guide, 2006 (cat. no. 2914.0.30.001)

A reference CD-ROM designed specifically for use with 2006 Census data. It includes the Census Dictionary, Information and Technical Papers, sample Community Profile structures and an overview to the various hardcopy and electronic products to be released. A simple and intuitive interface presented for users to access the information and web site links also made available.

This product is a CD-ROM and is free. For more information, or to order a copy, please contact the National Information Referral Service on telephone 1300 135 070.

Census Update, Oct 2006 (cat. no. 2902.0)

A periodic newsletter to keep clients informed of developments in Census products and services. Highlights recent and forthcoming releases, provides comments on Census data and advises of user forums.

Other selected ABS releases which may be of interest to readers include:
    Changes in health: A snapshot, 2004-05 (cat. no. 4834.0.55.001)
    This article summarises some key changes in health and related characteristics of the Australian population over the ten years 1995 to 2004-05, as measured by the National Health Survey (NHS). Changes in the prevalence of selected long-term medical conditions, health-related lifestyle behaviours and changes in use of selected health services are discussed for broad age groups and by sex.

    Injury in Australia: A Snapshot, 2004-05 (cat. no. 4825.0.55.001)
    This article provides a brief overview of the prevalence of recent injuries with reference to events which resulted in injuries where medical treatment or some other form of action being taken. Risk factors, long term consequences of injury, hospitalisation, health system costs and mortality information are also discussed.

    Private Health Insurance: A snapshot, 2004-05 (cat. no. 4815.0.55.001)
    This article presents a brief overview of the level and types of private health insurance cover of the Australian population by general population and health characteristics.

    Population by Age and Sex, Australian States and Territories, June 2006 (cat. no. 3201.0)
    This issue contains revised estimates of the resident population of Australian states and territories as at 30 June 2005 and preliminary estimates as at 30 June 2006. These are based on the 2001 Census of Population and Housing.

    Life Tables, Australia, 2003 to 2005 (cat. no. 3302.0.55.001)
    A life table is a statistical model used to represent mortality in a population. Life tables are generated from age-specific death rates and the resulting values are used to measure mortality, survivorship and life expectancy.

    Deaths, Australia, 2005 (cat. no. 3302.0)
    This publication brings together statistics for deaths and mortality in Australia. In the main, data refer to deaths registered during the calendar year shown, unless stated otherwise. Populations used in the calculation of rates for 2005 are revised estimated resident population by age/sex at 30 June 2005, unless states otherwise. State/territory relates to the state/territory of usual residence of the deceased at the time of death, unless stated otherwise. Calculations as shown in the commentary sections are based on unrounded data. Calculations using rounded data may differ from those published.

    Analytical Living Cost Indexes for Selected Australian Household Types: Update to June 2006 (cat. no. 6463.0)
    This article presents analytical living cost indexes for selected Australian households. It updates articles previously published annually in the Australian Economic Indicators (cat. no. 1350.0), last published in September 2005. The indexes now cover the period from June quarter 1998 up to and including the June quarter 2006. These price indexes are designed to measure the impact of changes in prices on the out-of-pocket living costs experienced by four types of Australian households. The four household types for which these indexes have been constructed are: 1) Age pensioner households; 2) Self-funded retiree households; 3) Employee households, and 4) Other government transfer recipient households.


Wave 5 data from HILDA (the Survey of Household, Income and Labour Dynamics in Australia) is scheduled for release in early 2007. The following new topics were included: fertility; personality; school attendance of children; parents' education; leave from employment; benefits of paid employment; initiation of marital separation; household expenditure; carer identification; retirement intentions; and non co-residential relationships.

HILDA is Australia's first nationally representative household-based panel survey. It tracks all members of an initial sample of households over an indefinite life. Interviews are conducted annually, with the first wave occurring in 2001. The data collected includes household structure, family background, marital history, family formation, education, employment history, current employment and job search, income, health and wellbeing, childcare and housing. The longitudinal nature of the survey enables analysis of the changes to families and individuals over time, which is not possible with cross-sectional data.

Enquiries about the HILDA Survey should be directed, in the first instance to the HILDA website,, or to Dr Michael Kortt (Research and Analysis Branch), Telephone (02) 6244 1814, or email


What is a CURF?

A Confidentialised Unit Record File is a file of responses to an ABS survey that has had specific identifying information about a person or organisation confidentialised. Each person's or organisation's response to a survey is called a unit recordor microdata.The ABS ensures the confidentiality of all microdata made available on CURFs. This includes removing all identifying information, including names and addresses. Data items that are most likely to be used for identifying unit records are only released in broad categories. The files are also checked for any records with very unusual responses and these records may be altered slightly to ensure individuals cannot be identified. After the microdata is confidentialised, CURFs are released to authorised clients for approved purposes of statistical analysis and policy research.

Who uses a CURF?

CURF microdata is the most detailed statistical information available from the ABS. CURFs are used widely by universities, government and private sector researchers and analysts. A list of those who currently have access, together with their appointed contact officer, are available on the ABS website, under the Services We Provide heading.

Researchers and analysts are able to run statistical queries on the CURF microdata using SAS, SPSS or Stata software.

What CURF files are relevant to the ageing field?

Almost 80 CURF microdata files are available and come from a wide range of ABS household and labour surveys. Those of significance to older persons and ageing research and policy developers include:

Title (Year of most recent survey) and Level of Detail

  • Australian Housing Survey (1999) Basic*
  • Australians' Employment and Unemployment Patterns (1994-97) Basic* and Expanded
  • Census 2001 - Household Sample File (2001) Basic* and Expanded
  • Disability, Ageing and Carers (2003) Basic*
  • Education and Training (2005) Basic* and Expanded
  • Education and Work (2005) Basic
  • Families in Australia (1992) Basic
  • Family Characteristics Survey (2003) Expanded
  • Forms of Employment (1998) Basic
  • General Social Survey (2002) Basic* and Expanded
  • Household Expenditure Survey (1993-94) Basic*
  • Household Expenditure Survey Second Edition (1998-99) Basic*
  • Household Expenditure Survey and the Survey of Income and Housing (HES/SIH) (2003-04) Basic* and Expanded
  • Income and Housing Survey (1981-82) Basic*
  • Income Distribution Survey (1986) Basic*
  • Income and Housing Costs Survey (2000-01) Basic* and Expanded
  • Income and Housing Survey (2002-03) Basic* and Expanded
  • Income and Housing Survey and the Household Expenditure Survey (HES/SIH) (2003-04) Basic* and Expanded
  • Labour Force Survey and Employee Earnings, Benefits and Trade Union Membership (August 2004) Basic*
  • Labour Mobility (1994) Basic*
  • Mental Health and Wellbeing of Adults, Australia, Second Revised (1997) Basic*
  • Multi Purpose Household Survey (2004-05) Expanded
  • National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Survey (2004-05) Expanded
  • National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Survey (1994) Basic* and Expanded
  • National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social Survey (2002) Expanded
  • National Crime and Safety Survey (2005) Expanded
  • National Health Survey (2004-05) Basic* and Expanded
  • National Health Survey, Indigenous (2001) Expanded
  • National Nutrition Survey (1995) Basic*
  • Personal Safety Survey (2005) Expanded
  • Superannuation and Employment Arrangements Survey (2000) Expanded
  • Time Use Survey (1997) Basic* and Expanded
  • Voluntary Work Survey (2000) Basic
  • Women's Safety Survey (1996) Basic*

Content information including Technical Manual/Information Paper for each CURF is available on the ABS website. All Basic CURF Microdata is available on CD-ROM. Basic CURF Microdata marked with an * is also available via the ABS Remote Access Data Laboratory (RADL) and via the ABS Site Data Laboratory (ABSDL). Expanded CURF Microdata is only available via the ABS Remote Access Data Laboratory (RADL) and the ABS Site Data Laboratory (ABSDL).


In 2004-05;
  • the prevalence of diabetes has increased in all age groups above 44 years, and was the highest in the age group 65-74 years (14%)
  • the number of people aged 65 years and over reporting Type 2 diabetes have more than trebled between 1995 and 2004-05
  • the proportion of men and women who drank any alcohol in the last week increased between 1995 and 2004-05 in all age groups, with the largest increase in the 55-64 year group (from 62% to 73% for males and 40% to 57% for females)
  • increase between 1995 and 2004-05 in the proportions of men and women drinking at risky/high risk levels were recorded across all age groups
  • for men the largest increase was in the 55-64 year age group (from 9% to 18%)
  • for women the largest increases were recorded in age groups from 35-44 years through to 55-64 years (from 6-7% to 13%)
  • proportionally more people in all age groups reported consulting a health professional (other than a doctor or dentist) than they did in 1995, with the biggest increases in the 75 years and over (from 13% to 20%) and 35-64 years (from 10% to 15%) age groups)
  • the likelihood of sustaining an injury within the previous four weeks declines with age to 10% of those aged 65 years and over
  • the common forms of injury for persons aged 65 years and over were that of an open wound (53% of persons) and bruising (24%)
  • the likelihood of having private health insurance increases with income
  • the highest level of private health insurance coverage in 2004-05 was in the 45-54 and 55-64 years age groups (both around 61%), while the lowest (41%) was in the 25-34 and 75 years and over age groups
  • most (91%) people aged 65 years and over reported they had a government health concession card.
ABS data source: National Health Survey: Summary of Results, Australia 2004-05 (cat. no. 4364.0)


21-23 February 2007
9th Annual Health Congress
Sydney Marriott Hotel, Sydney, NSW

The conference theme is 'Examining the future of Australia's healthcare sector'. Covering the industry's most crucial issues, this three-day event provides the platform for discussing strategic direction and initiatives towards healthcare reform. With both Federal, Opposition and State healthcare Minister's addressing the congress, the event will provide insight into the Government;s healthcare policy agenda.

Telephone: (02) 9080 4307
Fax: (02) 9290 38444

8-9 March 2007
Housing Congress 2007
The Rendezvous Hotel, Melbourne, VIC

The conference theme is 'Working Together to Achieve Ground-Breaking Housing Outcomes'. Featuring government and industry speakers. Some of the topics covered over the two days include: Australia's Changing Demographic; The Housing Industry; Examining Trends In The Housing Finance Market; Sustainable Housing; Affordable Housing; Land Issues and Strategies To Deliver Effective Community & Social Housing.

Telephone: (02) 9080 4307
Fax: (02) 9290 38444

15-16 March 2007
Improving the Delivery of Palliative Care for Older People
Sydney Masonic Centre, Sydney, NSW

The theme of this conference is focusing on how best to deliver palliative care to older people. The seminar aims to share information about client/patient focussed systems, strategies, policies etc that have improved access to and the delivery of palliative care for older people in various settings eg acute, community, residential, primary and home care. Another aim of the seminar is to share the lessons learnt through the implementation of innovations programs/projects and in particular, those that are client/carer focussed that have resulted in improvements to the delivery of palliative services.

Telephone: (02) 4963 5150
Fax: (02) 4963 2050

27-28 March 2007
Redesigning Healthcare for the Ageing Population Summit 2007
Crowne Plaza Darling Harbour, Sydney, NSW

The theme of this conference is 'Delivering Aged Care Excellence and Streamlining Patient Flow'. Redesigning Healthcare for the Ageing Population Summit is essential for healthcare professionals to meet with and hear how the leaders in their field have developed and successfully implemented strategies to reduce the impact of aged care on the health system, optimise limited resources and streamline the provision of aged healthcare services hospital, residential and community care.

Telephone: (02) 9223 2600


An Ageing theme page containing ageing-relevant information from the ABS and other Commonwealth Government agencies can be found on the ABS web site. The Ageing theme page highlights the type and range of data available for ageing analyses and will be updated to highlight new data releases as they become available.


David Martyn
Telephone: (07) 3222 6311
Fax: (02) 6252 8107

Mailing address:
National Ageing Statistics Unit (NASU)
Australian Bureau of Statistics
GPO Box 9817

Commonwealth of Australia 2008

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